This quartzite Acheulean handaxe is from Morocco. Handaxes with narrow tips and concave edges are called ‘Ficrons’ by researchers from the UK, and similar examples are called Micoquien handaxes by researchers from France. The Acheulean period dates to between ca. 170,000 BP to 1.7 million BP in the Sahara Desert region of North Africa.
This elongated handaxe was made probably made on a quartzite slab. Cortex remnants are present on one face, and the proximal end is very thick relative to width. The handaxe was made by expert hard-hammer percussion flaking, creating relatively deep, concave flake scars.
Handaxes are the earliest and longest-used ‘designed’ tool in human history, emerging in the archaeological record in Kenya (Kokiselei) and Ethiopia (Konso) ca. 1.75-1.8 million years ago. In North Africa, handaxes have been dated at Oued Boucherit in Algeria to 1.7 million years ago, and 1.3 million years ago at the Thomas Quarry site on the outskirts of Casablanca, Morocco. The earliest handaxes were likely made by Homo erectus, with the later handaxes in North Africa and Europe made by Homo heidelbergensis (also known as Homo rhodesiensis). Homo heidelbergensis is thought by many palaeoanthropologists to be the most recent common ancestor between modern humans like us and the Neanderthals. Fossils of Homo heidelbergensis have been found in the Sahara Desert region dating from ca. 600,000-700,000 BP, contemporary with North African Acheulean stone technology. The Acheulean period is thought to have ended about 170,000 BP, replaced by prepared core technologies, although handaxe manufacture persisted for longer in some regions.