The Lower Paleolithic period, also known as the Early Stone Age, is currently believed to have lasted from between about 2.7 million to 200,000 years ago. It is the first archaeology, that is to say, that period when the first evidence of what scientists consider human behaviors occurred. The Lower Paleolithic begins when the first known stone tool manufacture occurred, about 2.7 million years ago, called the Oldowan tradition. The earliest stone tools have been discovered at Gona and Bouri in Ethiopia, and (a little later) Lokalalei in Kenya.
Stone tools of the Paleolithic include Acheulean handaxes and cleavers; these suggest that most humans of the period were scavengers rather than hunters. Lower Paleolithic sites are also characterized by the presence of extinct animal types dated to the Early or Middle Pleistocene. Evidence seems to suggest that the controlled use of fire was figured out sometime during the LP.
The end of the LP is debatable, and some scholars just consider the period one long sequence, and refer to it as the 'Earlier Paleolithic'. I picked 200,000 rather arbitrarily, but it is about the point when Mousterian technologies take over as the tool of choice.
4.4-2.2 million years ago. Australopithecus was small and gracile, with an average brain size of 440 cubic centimeters. They were scavengers, and were the first to walk on two legs.
- Ethiopia: Lucy, Selam, Bouri.
- South Africa: Taung, Makapansgat, Sterkfontein, Sediba
- Tanzania: Laetoli
ca. 1.8 million to 250,000 years ago. First early human to find its way out of Africa. H. erectus was both heavier and taller than Australopithecus, and a more efficient walker, with an average brain size of about 820 cc. They were the first human with a projecting nose, and their skulls were long and low with large brow ridges.
- Africa: Olorgesailie (Kenya), Bodo Cranium (Ethiopia), Bouri (Ethiopia), Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), Kokiselei Complex (Kenya)
- China: Zhoukoudian, Ngandong, Peking Man, Dali Cranium
- Siberia: Diring Yuriakh (still somewhat controversial)
- Indonesia: Sangiran (Java)
- Middle East: Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (Israel, maybe not H. erectus), Kaletepe Deresi 3 (Turkey)
- Europe: Dmanisi (Georgia), Torralba and Ambrona (Spain), Gran Dolina (Spain), Bilzingsleben (Germany), Pakefield (UK), Sima de los Huesos (Spain)