A handaxe is a bifacial Lower and Middle Paleolithic core tool. The term Paleolithic (or Palaeolithic) (from Greek παλαιός palaios, " Old " and λίθος Lithos, "stone" A broader definition of a tool is an entity used to interface between two or more domains that facilitates more effective action of one domain upon the other This kind of axe is typical of the lower (Acheulean) and the middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) and is the longest used tool of human history. The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape split and cut Wood, Harvest timber, as a Weapon Acheulean (also spelled Acheulian,) is the name given to an Archaeological industry of Stone tool manufacture associated with prehistoric Hominins Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly Flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis Prehistory See also Prehistory Paleolithic See also Paleolithic, Recent African Origin, Early Homo sapiens Not to be confused with a Wood Axe. The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape split and cut Wood, Harvest timber, as a Weapon
Handaxes are only found in Africa, Europe and Northern Asia, while South-Asia retained flake-industries (Hoabhinian).
New archaeologic evidence from Baise, China shows that there were also handaxes in eastern Asia. Baise ( Simplified Chinese: 百色 Pinyin: Bósè (old BǎiSè (new is a Prefecture-level city in China 's Guangxi Zhuang China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National 1 2 3
Older handaxes were produced by direct percussion with a stone hammer and can be distinguished by their thickness and a sinous border. Later Mousterian handaxes were produced with a soft billet of antler or wood and are much thinner, more symmetrical and have a straight border. Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly Flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis
An experienced flintknapper needs less than 15 minutes to produce a good quality handaxe, (in fact a simple handaxe can be made from a beach pebble in less than 3 minutes). A knapper is a person who shapes Flint, Chert, Obsidian or other stone through the process of knapping or Lithic reduction to manufacture
Handaxes are mainly made of flint, but rhyolites, phonolites, quartzites and other rather coarse rocks were used as well. Flint (or flintstone) is a hard sedimentary Cryptocrystalline form of the Mineral Quartz, categorized as a variety of Chert This page is about a volcanic rock For the ghost town see Rhyolite Nevada, and for the satellite system see Rhyolite/Aquacade. Phonolite is an evolved lava which is considered as forming in shallow Magma chambers Phonolite is an igneous, volcanic ( Extrusive) rock Quartzite (from German Quarzit) not to be confused with the Mineral Quartz, is a hard Metamorphic rock which was originally In Geology, rock is a naturally occurring aggregate of Minerals and/or Mineraloids The Earth's outer solid layer the ‘ Lithosphere Obsidian was rarely used, as the material shatters easily. Obsidian is a naturally occurring Glass formed as an extrusive Igneous rock.
Several basic shapes, like cordate, oval, triangular etc. have been distinguished, but their chronological significance is not agreed upon.
As most handaxes have a sharp border all around, there is no agreement about their use. Interpretations range from cutting and chopping tools to digging implements, flake cores, the use in traps and a purely ritual significance, maybe in courting behaviour. (The current majority view of their use, is some form of chopping or even digging tool for general purpose use, probably mainly for cutting meat and hacking through bone & muscule fibre).
An interpretation from William H. Calvin maintains that some of the rounder examples could have served as "killer frisbees" meant to be thrown at a herd of animals at a water hole so as to stun one of them. William H Calvin PhD (born 30 April 1939 is a Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. There are few indications of handaxe hafting, and some artifacts are far too large for that. However a thrown hand axe would not usually have penetrated deeply enough to cause very serious injuries. Additionally many handaxes are very small.
Tony Baker presented an argument in favor of the flake core theory. This theory claims that the hand axe was not a tool at all, but was a core from which flakes were removed. The flakes were then used as tools. It is worth noting however that handaxes are often found with retouch (i. e sharpening or shaping), thereby casting doubt on the theory of them being used solely as a flake core (the question remains, why would early man carefully straighten up and retouch something which was just a simple flake core?). Other theories suggest the shape is part tradition and partly a byproduct of the way it is manufactured; When a handaxe is knapped, the resulting shape is to some extent a function of the size and shape of the original flint nodule, (and the methods used to knapp it). Since many early handaxes appear to be made from simple flint pebbles (i. e from river or beach deposits), and because most pebbles are rounded - when making, it is necessary to detach a 'starting flake', which is often much larger than the rest of the flakes will be (due to the oblique angle of a rounded pebble requiring greater force to dettach it), thus creating an asymmetry in the handaxe, when the asymmetry is corrected by removing extra material from the other faces, a trend toward a more pointed (oval) form factor is achieved, (knapping a completely circular handaxe actaully requires considerable correction of the shape to achieve). Studies in the 1990's at Boxgrove in which a Butcher was given a handaxe and told to butcher a carcass revealed that the handaxe was perfect for getting at the bone Marrow which is high in protien and vitamins and was highly prized as a food source. Boxgrove is a Village and Civil parish in the Chichester District of the English county of West Sussex, about five kilometres (3