Radiometric dating is based on the idea that
Oldowan tools were therefore the earliest tools in human history, and mark the beginning of the archaeological record.
The term "Oldowan" is taken from the site of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where the first Oldowan tools were discovered by the archaeologist Louis Leakey in the 1930s.
The earliest user of Acheulean tools was Homo ergaster who first appeared about 1.8 million years ago.
Some researchers prefer to call these users early Homo erectus.
The move towards agriculture started in the Middle East.
In some areas, such as Western Europe, the way that people lived was affected by the Ice age.
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.
John Frere was the first to suggest in writing a very ancient date for Acheulean hand-axes.
In 1797 he sent two examples to the Royal Academy in London from Hoxne in Suffolk.
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.