Acheulean Hand Axes

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What was an Ancheulean Hand Axe?

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Total Votes : 11

Acheulean Hand Axes

Post by grendel on Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:10 pm



One of the few things known for sure about an Acheulean Hand Axe is it isn't an axe, beyond that its use still illudes us. There are several theories as to what it was and how it was used. The first hand axes appeared in Africa over 1.5 million years ago and were still being made in Europe 200,000 years ago without a lot of difference. They are mostly associated with Homo Ergaster, Heidelberg and Erectus

The first debate is as to whether it was a tool and deliberately made as one. There are basically three camps on this issue, the first believes it was a carefully crafted tool that the knapper intended to make and produced taking waste flakes off which were discarded as rubbish. The second camp believe it was simply a blade core, the knapper took flakes off, the flakes being the desired tools and the remaining core (hand axe) was discarded as waste. The final position is that it was both of the above, the knapper was both deliberately producing flakes and the axe to be used.

There seems no real answer to this question, tests have shown hand axes may have been used for butchery as test have detected residues animal fat on the sharp edges, however archaeologic finds of hundreds of unused hand axes discarded together don't tie in with that of a uniquely made butchering tool. To further complicate things hand axes are not usually found together with their flakes.

There have been several theories on their usage apart from animal butchering. While tests show they are excellent meat cutting tools, they don't do as good a job as flakes. One theory theory suggests they were actually projectile weapons, which could explain why they were kept in hoards and were thrown at animals legs to bring them down as they ran. A more modern theory sees them as male status symbols to attract females. The fact they are found in hoards similar to later objects which are genrally regards as religious hoards, opens this possibility too, though would Homo Ergaster even have had a religion. Later type of knapping devolve into two types, crudely knapped functional pieces and prestige pieces, beautifully knapped and used as ornaments, grave goods, status symbols, owning these had culteral signicance.

Anyone got any ideas?

I've added a poll, you can vote on as many options as you like............

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Re: Acheulean Hand Axes

Post by Manystones on Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:33 pm

For those with access, the latest volume of the Lithics Studies Society journal includes an interesting paper, including some discussion of ethnographic evidence for biface use in Australia.

Brumm, A. and Rainey, A. The Acheulean Downunder: Modern Human 'Handaxes' from the Barkly Tableland of Northern Australia

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Re: Acheulean Hand Axes

Post by grendel on Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:28 pm

Not a member so unfortuanately can't access the article, however I put a link to their backissues which are free in this post. So in a few months most likely the article will be availble there.

http://uk-knapping.forumotion.co.uk/t58-free-knapping-lithic-studies-books


Also found this article from a guy arguing hand axes are merely discarded blade cores. I personally voted both so can't say I agree with him, but an interesting read, none the less.

http://www.ele.net/acheulean/handaxe.htm

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Re: Acheulean Hand Axes

Post by Manystones on Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:34 am

Tony's website (ele.net) has a wealth of information and I thoroughly recommend visiting it too.

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Re: Acheulean Hand Axes

Post by grendel on Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:31 am

A great webpage dedicated to hand axes.

http://www.aerobiologicalengineering.com/wxk116/StoneAge/Handaxes/

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Re: Acheulean Hand Axes

Post by Lumpendoodle on Sun May 06, 2012 10:42 pm

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see why someone would fling away something that looks so 'handy'.

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