The use of tools by human beings is a practice that stretches back millions of years ago. It was in the Paleolithic period, some 2 to 2.5 million years ago that flints were first used and humans exhibited the ability to manipulate stone. Then the Archaic period (8000 to 1000 B.C.E.) saw changes in food production and with that, increased innovation in tool-making. These developments provide the first roots of technology.


First it is necessary to note that both the Paleo and Archaic periods each had phases and that those periods and phases may have taken slightly different form depending on the region of the globe under consideration. However, there is perhaps one especially important development that took place during the transition from Paleolithic to Archaic: many peoples progressed from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more settled subsistence agricultural one. This progression will necessarily be reflected in the types of tools available in the different periods.


The lower Paleolithic era lasted nearly 200,000 years and saw some of the most rudimentary tool production. Paleo Indians had what are known as simple core tools, which include axes and cleaving instruments. They made their tools by chipping stone into shape. Paleo Indians used more sophisticated flaking techniques but ones which hardly improved the process to any dramatic degree. Paleo Indians also possessed some tools for treating animal hides as well as crude drills, butchering implements and gravers.

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The Archaic period is commonly split into three periods as well: the early, middle and late. By the early Archaic, Indians used knives, shell adzes, perforators, wooden stakes, gouges and scrapers in addition to the hammerstones and flaked tools of the Paleolithic. Polished knives could be used for softening the hides taken from game. The canoe was introduced as a transportation device. Many of the above can be linked to the increasingly settled nature of Archaic Indian society and encouraged horticultural or agricultural practices. Even woven bags were used, probably to collect berries, roots and other edibles from the surrounding environs.

Weapon/ Hunting Technologies

Spears were the principal weapon of the Paleolithic period, some of which were fluted. The fluting in particular exhibits some sophistication in technique and crafting. By the Archaic period, weapon-makers had developed the atlatl, a hook-like device that greatly increased the speed and leverage involved in tossing the projectile. For fishing efforts, the first fishhooks saw service on lakes, rivers and ocean shores during the Archaic.

About the Author

Geoffrey St. Marie began writing professionally in 2010, with his work focusing on topics in history, culture, politics and society. He received his Bachelor of Arts in European history from Central Connecticut State University and his Master of Arts in modern European history from Brown University.