This flint handaxe is from Europe, probably from the Dordogne region of southern France. The tool likely dates to the Mousterian (Middle Palaeolithic) period, ca. 50,000-70,000 BP.
The artefact is curated by the Australian Institute of Archaeology, catalogue no. IA24.179.
The artefact is a well-made bifacial handaxe, possibly made by soft-hammer percussion using an organic indentor or soft hammerstone. The edges at the distal end were carefully trimmed and shaped by the removal of small flakes to alternate faces on opposite margins. The precise age and provenance of the artefact is not known, although the ‘porcelain patina’ is typical of artefacts from the Mousterian of Acheulean tradition in the Dordogne region, and the nature of the flaking and handaxe shape is characteristic of a Mousterian handaxe.
The Acheulean period ended by about 300,000 BP in Europe, replaced by technologies focussed on prepared cores and made by Neanderthals and modern humans like us, but bifacial handaxes remained a persistent element of later European toolkits. Notable among these are the well-made bifacial handaxes of the ‘Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition’, dating to ca. 50,000-70,000 BP and associated with the Neanderthal occupation of Europe. These handaxes are relatively small, well-made, and are triangular, sub-triangular, or cordate (almond- or heart-shaped).