Relative and numerical dating techniques
The geological period which corresponds to the Palaeolithic is the Pleistocene.Stone tools were not only made by our own species, Homo sapiens.These tools are the first cultural products which have survived.
Now it is realised that stone tools were used much earlier (3.3 million years ago) and that was definitely before the genus Homo had evolved.
It is not known for sure which species actually created and used Oldowan tools. Early Homo erectus appears to inherit Oldowan technology and refines it into the Acheulean industry beginning 1.7 million years ago.
Later forms of early humans also used Acheulean techniques and are described below.
There is considerable time overlap in early prehistoric stone-working industries.
He had found them in prehistoric lake deposits along with the bones of extinct animals and concluded that they were made by people "who had not the use of metals" and that they belonged to a "very ancient period indeed, even beyond the present world".
His ideas were ignored by his contemporaries however, who held a pre-Darwinian view of human evolution.
For a long time it was thought that the Oldowan was the earliest stone tool industry in prehistory, from 2.6 million years ago up until 1.7 million years ago.
It was followed by the more sophisticated Acheulean industry.
They are found in Europe somewhat later, from about 1 mya (0.7mya for Britain).
The Palaeolithic is by far the longest period of humanity's time, about 99% of human history.
The earliest user of Acheulean tools was Homo ergaster who first appeared about 1.8 million years ago.