This flint handaxe is part of a collection of Paleolithic artifacts that was acquired in 1929 by James Bell Bullitt during a tour of western Europe and later donated to the University of North Carolina.
The handaxe fits well-within the morphology of ancient handaxes, and is a testament to the skills of anonymous French flintknappers in the early 20th Century. ‘Fake’ is written on the handaxe to discriminate it from ancient artefacts. Breuil is not thought to have been a flintknapper himself, so he is likely to have acquired it from the forgers secondhand. Red soil adheres to the step-terminated flake scars, suggesting an attempt to make the handaxe look old and authentic. See this model for an example of an authentic flint handaxe from France.
The artefact is curated in the North Carolina Archaeological Collection, Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, catalog no 1966a1 (specimen 3). Scale approximate.
The handaxe is one of 16 replicated stone tools collected by Bullitt from the famous Palaeolithic archaeologist, Henri Breuil. Breuil is particularly well-known for his work on rock art in Europe, South Africa, and China, but he also extensively researched the Palaeolithic sequence of stone tools in Europe. The latter work earned him the nickname ‘Pope of Palaeolithic Prehistory’ by one archaeologist. His collaborations with South African lithic analysts helped lay the foundation for the technological approach in French lithic studies.