Radiocarbon dating an archaeological perspective
The move towards agriculture started in the Middle East.
During the Palaeolithic Age humans grouped together in small bands.
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.
More than a million years ago Acheulean tool users left Africa to colonize Eurasia.
Their oval and pear-shaped hand axes have been found over a wide area. Although it developed in Africa, the industry is named after the type site of Saint-Acheul, now a suburb of Amiens in northern France where some of the first examples were found in the 19th century.
There is considerable time overlap in early prehistoric stone-working industries.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.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 age ended when humans began to make small, fine tools (Mesolithic) and finally when plant crops and have other types of agriculture (Neolithic).