Type:  Flake Axe

Location: Sjælland (Isle of Zealand), Denmark



MoST ID: 6339

Pedestal Link: https://une.pedestal3d.com/r/mNn8_9HHV3

Model Author:  Mary-Anne Stone

Flint flake axe from Sjælland (Isle of Zealand), Denmark.  The axe dates to the Ertebølle phase of the Mesolithic period, ca. 7300-5950 BP.

The flake axe in this model probably dates to the Late Mesolithic period, Ertebølle phase.  It was made on a large, thick flint flake.  Shaping involved retouching across the proximal and distal ends of the flake blank.  One lateral edge of the blank was left unmodified, and became the cutting edge.  The opposite edge of the blank is a cortical surface, forming the axe’s butt end.  Retouching was very steep, with flakes removed towards the ventral surface of the flake blank.  Given the steep orientation of these scars, anvil support may have been used.  The axe was then flipped over and the retouched edge was used as a platform for striking flakes across the blank’s dorsal surface.  These flake scars overlapped in the middle, effectively thinning it.  The resulting cross-section is roughly rectangular.  The unmodified cutting edge is slightly U-shaped and heavily damaged, perhaps from use-wear.  The flint has partly patinated to a milky-white colour, which is common for flint and chalcedony.  The milky colour is caused by degeneration of the surface through an alkaline chemical reaction, and re-absorption of silica from the soil into the degraded surface.

See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.

During the Mesolithic period in Denmark, stone axes were made on large flakes.  One sharp edge of the flake blank was retained as the unmodified cutting edge for the axe, and the other edges were shaped by steep direct hard-hammer percussion flaking to produce a roughly rectangular section.  The edges were first subjected to very steep unifacial retouch, usually toward’s the blank’s ventral surface.  These scars provided a platform edge for striking flakes invasively across the flake blank’s dorsal surface.  This flaking often gave flake axes a roughly rectangular cross section.  Flake axes continued to be made in the Neolithic.

In the Mesolithic Kongemose phase (ca. 7300-8000 BP), bifacial axes were produced from cobbles rather than flake blanks.  These are called ‘core axes’ because the core was shaped into the final tool, as opposed to a flake struck from a core.  Flaking was similar to that seen on the lateral edges of flake axes, but flaking tended to be more invasive, creating a sub-rectangular or roughly lenticular cross-section.  The cutting edge of core axes was made by striking a flake from a lateral margin so that it propagated transversely across the bifacial edge at the axe’s proximal end.  This removed the bifacial edge as a ‘tranchet flake’, and the scar left behind was exceptionally sharp.  This sharp edge was the working end of the axe, and it was resharpened by striking additional tranchet flakes.  Core axes continued to be made in the Mesolithic Ertebølle phase (ca. 5950-7300 BP), with some axes trimmed by invasive bifacial flaking at the proximal end, which served as the cutting edge of the tool.  Sometimes this edge was ground to create the finished edge, but more frequently it was left unmodified.