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The earliest user of Acheulean tools was Homo ergaster who first appeared about 1.8 million years ago.Some researchers prefer to call these users early Homo erectus.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.They are first developed out of the more primitive Oldowan technology some 1.8 million years ago, by Homo habilis.It was the dominant technology for most of human history.Later forms of early humans also used Acheulean techniques and are described below.There is considerable time overlap in early prehistoric stone-working industries.

The Palaeolithic is by far the longest period of humanity's time, about 99% of human history.In individual regions, this dating can be considerably refined; in Europe for example, Acheulean methods did not reach the continent until around 400 thousand years ago and in smaller study areas, the date ranges can be much shorter.Numerical dates can be misleading however, and it is common to associate examples of this early human tool industry with one or more glacial or interglacial periods or with a particular early species of human.The geological period which corresponds to the Palaeolithic is the Pleistocene.Stone tools were not only made by our own species, Homo sapiens.

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