Definition of Oldowan in US English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting an early Lower Paleolithic culture of Africa, dated to about 2.0–1.5 million years ago. It is characterized by primitive stone tools that are associated chiefly with Homo habilis.

    • ‘The Dmanisi people had brains no bigger than the Oldowan hominids found in East Africa and used the same simple ‘pebble-chopper’ tools.’
    • ‘The efficacy of Oldowan tools was practically demonstrated by Kathy and Ray, who used them to butcher an elephant that had died of natural causes (Schick and Toth 1993, pp.166 ff).’
    • ‘One of the hallmarks of this species was a teardropshaped stone tool flaked on both sides, the Acheulian handaxe, which was more specialized than the Oldowan tools of Homo habilis.’
    1. 1.1as noun the Oldowan The Oldowan culture or period.


1930s: from Oldoway, alteration of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, + -an.