Handaxes

Handaxes are the iconic tool associated with our hominin ancestors. They are flaked bifacially—on two faces—with a sharp, knife-like edge between them.

Handaxes are relatively large, oval- or teardrop-shaped tools, and the elegance and simplicity of the best-made examples has intrigued archaeologists and artists alike. The British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects begins with a homage to a bifacial handaxe.

Handaxes were made by our early hominin ancestors from about 1.75 million years ago. Homo erectus made vast numbers of handaxes prior to going extinct ca. 108,000 years ago, but other archaic hominins made them too, including Neanderthals. Our own species—Homo sapiens—made handaxes during our early evolution in Africa, and in parts of North America and Australia handaxes were made and used in the recent past. Handaxes served as heavy cutting tools that could be held in the hand, and the flakes struck from them could serve as knives or scraping tools.

Biface handaxe Camooweal

Handaxe

Handaxe, Boulia

Handaxe

Handaxe UAE

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe, UAE

Acheulean Handaxe

Cleaver, Sudan

Acheulean Cleaver

Handaxe, Tanzania

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe, Algeria

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe, Western Sahara

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe Morocco

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe, Morocco

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe on a flake

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe France

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe, Broom, England

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe, Swanscombe

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe with shell fossil

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe St Acheul

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe AIA ambiguous label

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe UK, giant ficron 2023

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe Quartzite England AIA

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe UK, Iver AIA

Acheulean Handaxe

Handaxe twisted cordate Manchester uni

Acheulean Handaxe, ‘s-twist’

Handaxe Mousterian UK 1

Mousterian Handaxe

Handaxe mousterian from france 1

Mousterian Handaxe