Many of the hallmarks of Late Acheulean handaxe technology are demonstrated by this large handaxe, including the symmetrical pear-shaped plan, the taper in cross section from the thick base to a thin tip, and the combination of bold thinning flake scars and smaller trimming scars. The flat profile of some of the scars suggests a soft hammer, such as bone, may have been used to shape and thin the handaxe.
Handaxes are the earliest and longest-used ‘designed’ tool in human history, emerging in the archaeological record in Kenya (Kokiselei) and Ethiopia (Konso) ca. 1.75-1.8 million years ago. In North Africa, handaxes have been dated at Oued Boucherit in Algeria to 1.7 million years ago, and 1.3 million years ago at the Thomas Quarry site on the outskirts of Casablanca, Morocco. The earliest handaxes were likely made by Homo erectus, with the later handaxes in North Africa and Europe made by Homo heidelbergensis (also known as Homo rhodesiensis). Homo heidelbergensis is thought by many palaeoanthropologists to be the most recent common ancestor between modern humans like us and the Neanderthals. Fossils of Homo heidelbergensis have been found in the Sahara Desert region dating from ca. 600,000-700,000 BP, contemporary with North African Acheulean stone technology. The Acheulean period is thought to have ended about 170,000 BP, replaced by prepared core technologies, although handaxe manufacture persisted for longer in some regions.