Among the earliest evidences of some creature, either human or at least more man-like than any living ape upon earth, are a number of flints and stones very roughly chipped and shaped so as to be held in the hand. These were probably used as hand-axes. These early implements ("Eoliths") are often so crude and simple that there was for a long time a controversy whether they were to be regarded as natural or artificial productions. The date of the earliest of them is put by geologists as Pliocene—that is to say, before the First Glacial Age. They occur also throughout the First Interglacial period. We know of no bones or other remains in Europe or America of the quasi-human beings of half a million years ago, who made and used these implements. They used them to hammer with, perhaps they used them to fight with, and perhaps they used bits of wood for similar purposes.
But at Trinil, in Java, in strata which are said to correspond either to the later Pliocene or to the American and European First Ice Age, there have been found some scattered bones of a creature, such as the makers of these early implements may have been. The top of a skull, some teeth, and a thigh-bone have been found. The skull shows a brain-case about half-way in size between that of the chimpanzee and man, but the thigh-bone is that of a creature as well adapted to standing and running as a man, and as free, therefore, to use its hands. The creature was not a man, nor was it an arboreal ape like the chimpanzee. It was a walking ape. It has been named by naturalists Pithecanthropus erectus (the walking ape-man). We cannot say that it
- Among the earlier pioneers of the latter view was Mr. Harrison, a grocer of Ightham in Kent, one of those modest and devoted observers to whom British geology owes so much. At first his "Eoliths" were flouted and derided by archæologists, but to-day he has the scientific world with him in the recognition of the quasi-human origin of many of his specimens. With him we must honour Mr. W. J. Lewis Abbott, a jeweller of St. Leonards, whose intimate knowledge of stone structure has been of the utmost value in these discussions. See "Occ. Papers," No. 4, of the Royal Anthropl. Inst., for a description by Sir E. R. Lankester of one of the better formed of these early implements.
- Some writers suppose that a Wood and Shell age preceded the earliest Stone Age. South Sea Islanders, Negroes, and Bushmen still make use of wood and the sharp-edged shells of land and water molluscs as implements.