Type:  Acheulean Handaxe

Location: England



MoST ID: 5744

Pedestal Link: https://une.pedestal3d.com/r/D7iT99CKIC

Model Author:  Mary-Anne Stone

This quartzite Acheulean handaxe is from England.  It dates between ca. 300,000-500,000 BP.

The artefact is curated by the Australian Institute of Archaeology, catalogue no. IA24.174.

This handaxe-like core is made on a river cobble, and was minimally reduced by hard-hammer percussion flaking.  Large flakes were removed from one face and smaller flakes were removed from the opposite face.  The irregular core has a handaxe-like shape, although it is unclear whether the shape was deliberately produced or was a fortuitous result of removing flakes from the cobble.

See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.

By ca. 600,000-700,000, hominins began expanding out of the Iberian peninsula and crossed the Pyrenees Mountains into the region of modern France.  Famous handaxe sites in France include the type site for the Acheulean, St Acheul, in gravel deposits on the Somme River; Terra Amata, in Nice on the French Riviera; and La Noira, on a tributary of the lower Loire River.  By 500,000 BP, Acheulean hominins were living what is now southern Britain (the English Channel did not exist at this time), most notably at Boxgrove in West Sussex, which preserves the best-preserved Late Acheulean handaxe-making localities so far discovered.  Acheulean handaxe are found widely across the southern UK, including the famous finds at Hoxne, and a large modern sculpture of a handaxe commemorates the artefacts found in the Barnfield Pit near Swanscombe.

Thousands of flint handaxes are known from England, but quartzite was also used for toolmaking by early hominins, even in areas where flint was abundantly available.  This discrepancy may be partly due to antiquarian enthusiasm for flint, causing quartzite tools to be largely overlooked by collectors.  However, by 2000 over 400 Acheulean quartzite artefacts had been identified in the Upper Thames and Norfolk regions.  In Norfolk, ca. 480,000 BP glaciers over-rode a major river valley (called the Bytham River), sealing in the Palaeolithic archaeology, including quartzite tools.  The tools were made on brown Bunter quartzite formed during the Triassic period.  The artefacts are moderately to heavily abraded by rolling in the river.