14. The Origins and Evolution of Technology

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Kathy Schick and
  2. Nicholas Toth

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch14

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Schick, K. and Toth, N. (2013) The Origins and Evolution of Technology, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch14

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • hominin forms;
  • human evolution;
  • human technology;
  • industrial complex;
  • stone age;
  • stone tools


The evolution of human technology has entailed profound yet gradual changes in our technological systems that have essentially co-evolved with changes in ancestral human biological forms. The two-and-a-half million year old Paleolithic archeological record shows a gradual increase in technological, behavioral, and presumably cognitive abilities in the human lineage, spanning from the most rudimentary stone tools of the Oldowan, to the handaxe and cleaver industries of the Acheulean, to the flake tool-dominated industries of the Middle Paleolithic, to the technological and artistic complexity of the Upper Paleolithic. This chapter examines the evolution of human technology, assessing aspects of behavior and adaptation represented in different periods of time, the associated hominin forms, apparent levels or thresholds of cognitive complexity represented, the emergence of possible ethnicity as represented in the technological record, and changes and variability over time and space in prehistoric technologies.