Type:  Stone Axe

Location: Northern Tablelands, New South Wales



MoST ID: 5361

Pedestal Link: https://une.pedestal3d.com/r/HLefimqw12

Model Author:  Emma Watt

This basalt axe is from the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales.  The Anaiwan People rescued the artefact from development (Gostwyck Solar Farm) then returned the artefact back to country after the 3D model was made.

This axe is made from moderately coarse-grained basalt.  The blank was manufactured by a combination of percussion flaking and hammer dressing (pecking), followed by grinding to create the cutting edge.  The lateral edges were also rounded by grinding.  The thick profile, short length, and steep grinding facets suggest that the axe was resharpened many times during its use-life.

The earliest-known edge-ground stone axes in the world are found in archaeological sites in Australia, and are over 40,000 years old.  They were made continuously from the earliest occupation of the continent through to the recent past, and are still made in New Guinea today. Stone axes were made in vast numbers during the Middle and Late Holocene period, from about 10,000 years ago, and Aboriginal people developed extensive trade networks for axes made of particularly prized stones.  The anthropologist W. E. H. Stanner, writing in 1933 about ceremonial trade on the Daly River of the Northern Territory, said that ‘there can be nothing more useless in the native economy than a pile of [stone axes] with nowhere to send them.’  Axes were also symbolically and ritually important, with story sites for axe quarries and mythological figures wielding stone axes as weapons.  For instance, Namarrkon, an Ancestral Being in Arnhem Land in Northern Australia, uses stone axes affixed to his head, elbows, and knees to create the intense lightning in storms that signal the arrival of the monsoon.  Axes were integrated within the cultural system in the historic period, and axe manufacture and use was embedded in various social roles.  Stone axes in the recent past were usually mounted onto thin wood handles and affixed with plant resin or native bees wax.