The origin of the Acheulean. Techno-functional study of the FLK W lithic record (Olduvai, Tanzania)

The Acheulean materials documented in FLK West dated c. 1.7 Ma. are the focus of the present work. An original techno-functional approach is applied here to analyze the origin of Acheulean tools. According to the results, these tools were employed in different functional contexts in which tasks of different durations that transformed resources with different resistances were carried out. The exploitation of large and resistant resources suggests that the economic mechanism governing the manufacture of these tools was an increase in the demand of the work load. The decision processes underlying the production of these tools have thus an evident functional motivation. However, the presence of a refined handaxe in the studied sample indicates that the design form and production principles of handaxe manufacture were the result of an abrupt emergence rather than a long gradual development. The integration of mechanical and ergonomic investigation in our research has been crucial to explain how a core-and-flake industry gave way to a technology based on the production of large and heavy shaped tools.