Early stone-cutting tools called hand-axes (left) and later more sophisticated tools (right) designed to be attached to a shaft and potentially used as projectile weapons. Others were shaped as scrapers or awls. The National Museums of Kenya loaned the artifacts pictured above to conduct the analyses published in Science. | Human Origins Program, Smithsonian

Environmental Change Forced Early Humans in East Africa to Innovate

New evidence of early human technological advancements dates to a period in eastern Africa when our ancestors faced an unpredictable environment and were evolving into Homo sapiens.

A bird's eye view of the Olorgesailie Basin in southern Kenya, which holds an archaeological record of early human life spanning more than a million years. | Human Origins Program, Smithsonian
Richard Potts surveys an assortment of Early Stone Age hand-axes discovered in the Olorgesailie Basin, Kenya. | Human Origins Program, Smithsonian
Black and red rocks containing manganese and ocher were excavated at the Olorgesailie Basin, along with evidence that the rocks had been processed for use as coloring material. | Human Origins Program, Smithsonian