Stone tools have distinctive morphologies that reflect the cognitive abilities and the development of technological skills during the Pleistocene. In Africa, LCTs made from large flakes and handaxes from large flakes and pebbles and chunks became part of Palaeolithic technology during the Early Pleistocene about 1,5 My ago. However, until recently, in Europe this change was not documented at a larger scale until the Middle Pleistocene. This especially holds true for higher latitudes beyond the 45th parallel north.
According to these data some researchers argue for the possibility of an independent invention of the handaxe in northwestern Europe during MIS 13, because the Million year’s gap between African bifaces and those of N/W-Europa cannot be easily overbridged.
Anyhow, Bifaces already appeared in the Middle Loire Basin in the interval between 700 and 600 k.a. , and then continuously from 400 k.a. onwards. Rich ensembles with LCTs were detected in situ at the “La Noira” site in the middle Cher valley. At La Noira eight sediment samples were dated by the electron spin resonance (ESR) method and the weighted average age obtained for the fluvial sands overlying the slope deposits is 665±55 k.a. La Noira is the oldest evidence of Acheulean presence in north-western Europe and attests to the possibility of pioneering phases of Acheulean settlement which would have taken place on a Mode 1-type substratum as early as 700 k.a.
Heading to the South of Europe, sites with even older Handaxes were recently detected:
The Barranc de la Boella site in Spain has yielded a set of LCT lithic assemblages in unit II that suggests that the Acheulian technological tradition was present in S-Europe around 960–781 k.a. ago. Early handaxes also come from Murcia (Southern Spain) and are geochronological dated between 900-780 k.a. BP, synchronous with Mode II industries at Casablanca.
Early Iberian Acheulian findings suggest transit from Africa to Gibraltar though periods of low sea level. This hypothesis is strengthened by the presence of large flake-cleavers on both sides of the Mediterranean. Flake-cleavers in Spain and southwestern France (including the site of Arago, levels P and Q) are considered as African features. Highly probable that the bearers of earlier Mode I industries of Europa entered via another route….