Object Timeline

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2014

2021

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Chopper (Tanzania)

This is a Chopper.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of Natural History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated 1.85 million years old. Its medium is volcanic rock (nephelinite).

Tools crafted and used by our human ancestors appear in the prehistoric record dating back at least 2.6 million years; the earliest tools were made of stone. This simply altered stone, called a "chopper", from the famed archeological site Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, is around 1.85 million years old. The discovery of such artifacts at Olduvai Gorge gave the name to the world’s oldest Stone Age technology, the Oldowan. Choppers were made using a hammerstone to knap, that is, repeatedly striking off sharp, useful flakes along an edge. The stone is a volcanic rock called nephelinite, from a lava flow south of Olduvai. This basic technology, which produced tools for cutting, pounding, and crushing, enabled humans to obtain new foods and increase the amount of meat, tubers, and roots in their diet.

It is credited Department of Archaeology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Control number: 2065648, Field number: I-EgMK.

  • Pestle (USA)
  • carved basalt.
  • Collected by the United States Exploring Expedition, 1840, Department of....
  • 15.2012.46
  • Hand Axe (Tanzania)
  • volcanic rock (trachyte).
  • Department of Archaeology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.59
  • Clovis Point
  • chert from north central ohio.
  • Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.25

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

  • Hand Axe (France)
  • flint.
  • Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.60
  • Stone Pestle (USA)
  • carved stone.
  • Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.47
  • Fluted Point (USA)
  • chert (from edwards chert formation located north of austin, texas).
  • Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.26

Its dimensions are

H x W: 7.6 x 8 x 6 cm (3 in. x 3 1/8 in. x 2 3/8 in.)

We have 1 video that features Chopper (Tanzania).

Stone Tools Informational Video

Learn how to discriminate between ancient stone tools and regular rocks with Paleoanthropologist John Shea.

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35520555/ |title=Chopper (Tanzania) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=21 October 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>