The Oldowan pebble tool tradition, named after the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, East Africa where tools were first described, represent stone tools from the earliest primitive humans. By the time early humans made their way into Europe, PEBBLE TOOL technology had already been superseded by the proliferation of Acheulian bifacial handaxes roughly three quarters of a million years later in Africa! These stone tool manufacturing traditions were brought into Europe by Homo erectus moving north up from Africa. Both Pebble and Acheulian traditions existed for a limited time together at the beginning of human existence in Europe with pebble tool technology eventually giving way to more advanced traditions of core and flake tools.
The first hominids in Europe migrated north from Africa some time shortly after 800,000 years ago. Some sites in Spain, Portugal, France, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia suggest that this might have occurred even earlier but evidence is not conclusive. Evidence for existence after 700,000 years is definite with many sites being dated from 700,000 to 400,000 years ago. These first humans were Homo erectus.
Most of these sites were located alongside rivers or lakes where stone tools are found alongside debris and bones of large mammals. The tools of this time were very primitive having been fashioned by striking river cobbles to produce a crude chopping tool. Sometimes, the flakes were used to make scrapers and points. Human fossils and coprolites have also been discovered at sites in Southern France. The coprolites were found to contain pollen which was used to further provide evidence of an exact date of the sites. The primary source of food was the meat of big game hunted in the region.
The early technology of pebble tools coexisted up to 400,000 years ago in Europe with biface axes of the Acheulian tradition. The more advanced bifaces were flaked all over and created a much more portable and defined tool. It is still not fully understood why such a primitive tool technology such as the Oldowan tradition was brought into Europe for the Acheulian bifacial tools proliferated Africa well before the migration of humans northward.
No one can doubt the importance that pebble tools hold in the history of human development. Their very emergence in Africa nearly two million years ago allowed the earliest humans to butcher animals for their meat - the needed nourishment that allowed humans to survive and flourish to one day populate and rule the earth.