Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Cutting Edge of Cognition

Acheulean handaxe

Four views of an Acheulean handaxe created 300,000–500,000 years ago in France. Credit: Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons

By Natalie Rogers

Modern brain scans are revealing whether Stone Age hominins planned to make specific tools or whether their craftsmanship determined the outcome of their endeavours.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

For many decades, people have been fascinated by the archaeology of ancient Stone Age societies – the ancestors to our own species, Homo sapiens. What were these pre-human like? Did they think and behave like us?

Archaeologists, paleoanthropologists and philosophers have long believed that if we can understand their behaviour, particularly their tool-making behaviour, it might open a portal into the minds of these extinct hominins. After all, tool-making – also known as knapping – is a direct product of the mind of the hominin, so it would make sense that we could track the evolution of the human mind by studying how Paleolithic stone tools became increasingly more complex over time.

The Physics of Chipped Windscreens and Knapping

We now know that many stones used in knapping have mechanical properties similar to glass, so they fracture in much the same way. To make a stone tool,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.