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Archaeologists Excited By 500,000-Year-Old Axe Find In Quarry
24hourmuseum.org.uk ^ | 12-16-2004 | David Prudames

Posted on 12/17/2004 11:37:14 AM PST by blam

ARCHAEOLOGISTS EXCITED BY 500,000-YEAR-OLD AXE FIND IN QUARRY

By David Prudames 16/12/2004

This image shows the axe head from different angles. Photo: Graham Norrie, University of Birmingham Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity.

A Stone Age hand axe dating back 500,000 years has been discovered at a quarry in Warwickshire.

The tool was found at the Smiths Concrete Bubbenhall Quarry at Waverley Wood Farm, near Coventry, which has already produced evidence of some of the earliest known human occupants of the UK.

It was uncovered in gravel by quarry manager John Green who took it to be identified by archaeologists at the University of Birmingham.

"We are very excited about this discovery," enthused Professor David Keen of the university's Archaeology Field Unit.

"Lower Palaeolithic artefacts are comparatively rare in the West Midlands compared to the south and east of England so this is a real find for us."

Despite being half and million years old the tool is very well-preserved and will eventually go on show at Warwickshire Museum.

Amongst other things, the hand axe would have been used for butchering animals, but what is perhaps most intriguing about it is that it is made of a type of volcanic rock called andesite.

Photo: Graham Norrie, University of Birmingham Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity.,

Andesite bedrock only occurs in the Lake District or North Wales and this is only the ninth andesite hand axe to be found in the midlands in over a century. Archaeologists are now trying to figure out how the tool might have got there.

Although it is possible the rock was transported to the midlands by glacial ice from the north west there is as yet no evidence for it, which suggests humans might have brought it into the area.

The lack of material for good quality hand axes in the midlands would probably have been known to our ancestors, therefore these tools could have been brought in ready made.

It may also be significant that all previous andesite hand axe finds have been made in deposits of the Bytham River, a now lost river system that crossed England from the Cotswolds via the West Midlands and Leicester to the North Sea.

This valley was destroyed in a later glaciation and seems to have provided a route into the midlands for Palaeolithic hunters.

Half a million years ago the area was at the edge of the human world, linked to Europe along the Bytham valley and across a land-bridge existing before the cutting of the Straits of Dover.

In addition to the hand axe the Smiths Concrete Bubbenhall Quarry has produced 18 other Palaeolithic tools, currently under investigation by the team at Birmingham Archaeology.

Other finds in the area include bones and teeth from a straight-tusked elephant, which are also set to be displayed at Warwickshire Museum.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 500000; archaeologists; archaeology; artifacts; axe; doggerland; excited; find; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; old; quarry; toolmaking; tools; tooltime; year
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1 posted on 12/17/2004 11:37:15 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.
2 posted on 12/17/2004 11:38:05 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.
3 posted on 12/17/2004 11:38:36 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

I wonder how much money I could make if I let 'ARCHAEOLOGISTS' poke around in my garage?

::smiles::


4 posted on 12/17/2004 11:40:55 AM PST by Calpernia (Breederville.com)
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To: blam
500,000-Year-Old Axe

I stopped by just to see if anyone had posted a Helen Thomas picture, yet.

5 posted on 12/17/2004 11:41:02 AM PST by newgeezer (Sarcasm content: 0.0000000%)
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To: Peach; Howlin

They found the axe the "RINO"-bashers have been grinding!


6 posted on 12/17/2004 11:42:17 AM PST by My2Cents (To those inclined to receive it, "Merry Christmas!" To those NOT so inclined, "Bah Humbug!")
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To: blam

What's to be excited about? It likely simply evolved from bigger pieces of rock as it was simply roughed up vs. bigger pieces of rock by natural forces...given enough time.


7 posted on 12/17/2004 11:42:45 AM PST by Colofornian
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To: blam

Ugh, andesite is tough as nail to flake. Real sturdy edge though.


8 posted on 12/17/2004 11:43:15 AM PST by Betis70 (I'm only Left Wing when I play hockey)
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To: newgeezer
I stopped by just to see if anyone had posted a Helen Thomas picture, yet.

That was "500,000 year-old axe," not "500,000 year-old battle-axe"

9 posted on 12/17/2004 11:43:32 AM PST by My2Cents (To those inclined to receive it, "Merry Christmas!" To those NOT so inclined, "Bah Humbug!")
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To: blam

"Stone Age British Isles" bump.


10 posted on 12/17/2004 11:44:42 AM PST by Ciexyz (I use the term Blue Cities, not Blue States. PA is red except for Philly, Pgh & Erie)
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To: blam

I'd like to know how one could possibly get an accurate date on an inorganic rock. Surely this has to be an estimate...since the rock itself is surely much older. Based on the layer it was found?

Anyway, 500,000 years sounds like bunk.


11 posted on 12/17/2004 11:45:35 AM PST by AnalogReigns
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To: blam

And I suppose the owner's descendents still work the same quarry. "It's been in the family for years."


12 posted on 12/17/2004 11:47:30 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: My2Cents; Miss Marple; deport; nutmeg; McGavin999; ohioWfan; Poohbah; Diddle E. Squat; ...

ROFLMAO!

See #6, you all.


13 posted on 12/17/2004 11:47:49 AM PST by Howlin (W, Still the President)
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To: My2Cents
Why are they so sure it's half a million years old? Scientists are the most gullible people on earth according to the Amazing Randi.

Despite being half and million years old the tool is very well-preserved and will eventually go on show at Warwickshire Museum.

14 posted on 12/17/2004 11:48:22 AM PST by DManA
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To: AnalogReigns
Half a million years old...it's such a nice round number.

The axe looks identical to those found round California, chiselled by Indians...er, Indigenous Peoples...about 250 years ago. I guess human technology didn't change much over 499,750 years.

15 posted on 12/17/2004 11:53:16 AM PST by My2Cents (To those inclined to receive it, "Merry Christmas!" To those NOT so inclined, "Bah Humbug!")
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To: My2Cents

Gee, another Piltdown find.


16 posted on 12/17/2004 11:53:59 AM PST by gaspar
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To: gaspar

LOL...Piltdown Man's axe.


17 posted on 12/17/2004 11:54:27 AM PST by My2Cents (To those inclined to receive it, "Merry Christmas!" To those NOT so inclined, "Bah Humbug!")
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To: blam

Prolly used by the first English football hooligan against a poor Belgiae...but seriously, thanks for posting.


18 posted on 12/17/2004 11:55:13 AM PST by Pharmboy (Listen...you can still hear the old media sobbing.)
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To: AnalogReigns

They probably just used hand-axe typology to date it--lots of other securely dated handaxes with similar design cluster in dates around 500K, so they assign this one a date of 500K. Of course this is an article for the public so they don't talk about how it was dated since most people don't really care about such esoteric info.

Most dating techniques are estimates, even dendrochronoloy (tree-ring dating), which is why in most professional publications you will see a +/- associated with a date and often a lot time spent talking about how a particular site is dated.


19 posted on 12/17/2004 11:55:24 AM PST by Betis70 (I'm only Left Wing when I play hockey)
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To: AnalogReigns
I have a problem with that age also. Something fishy here.
20 posted on 12/17/2004 11:55:33 AM PST by crazyhorse691 (We won. We don't need to be forgiving. Let the heads roll!!!!!!!!!)
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To: AnalogReigns

Maybe from the strat in which it was found, ant other or ganic "stuff".

And quit calling me shirley! </airplane reference


21 posted on 12/17/2004 11:55:34 AM PST by Fierce Allegiance (Stay safe in the "sandbox" Greg!)
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To: blam
How did they date it if it's not local stone?

If I drill a 500-foot deep hole, keep track of the material that comes out, place a cell phone in the hole and replace the dirt in reverse order...

Will the cell phone be dated to 200,000,000 BC when it's found?
Just wondering...

22 posted on 12/17/2004 11:55:38 AM PST by Publius6961 (The most abundant things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.)
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To: AnalogReigns

It was dated by a contemporaneous voicemail Dan Rather located regarding the date of manufacture.

Plus, it had the ingraving "To F.F. from W.F. Love! 500,000 B.C." on one side.

Seriously, I believe the dating came from its position in relation to the now non-existant river system that had been previously dated.


23 posted on 12/17/2004 11:57:08 AM PST by MeanWestTexan
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To: blam
I have serious skepticism about this find... 500,000 years old? How the heck can they be so sure?

They didn't even discover it in it's original spot or under any type of controlled conditions - a guy simply brought it to them after finding it in the quarry. How do they know he didn't carve it a few days before out of a big chunk of 500,000 year-old rock?
24 posted on 12/17/2004 11:57:14 AM PST by LibertyRocks
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To: AnalogReigns
How does one determine the age of the rock itself vs. when the rock was chipped down into an axe?
25 posted on 12/17/2004 11:58:29 AM PST by pigsmith
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To: Fierce Allegiance
WilMAAAAA!!!

Now where did I put that ax?!


26 posted on 12/17/2004 11:58:30 AM PST by AmericanInTokyo (FR: Will be mature & independent when we can "Freep" either a GOP or Dem White House on any issue.)
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To: AmericanInTokyo

Lol!


27 posted on 12/17/2004 12:00:54 PM PST by Fierce Allegiance (Stay safe in the "sandbox" Greg!)
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To: Colofornian; blam
No way- that's a deliberate pattern of percussion flaking you see there and is wholly reproduceable by modern flintknappers- but the odds of getting that lucky via Momma Nature are very very slim. If it was ever used there would be obvious and undeniable use wear on the bit end as well, and this one likely has it unless it was a cache item stored for later use that got lost, or had been reserved as "sacrifices" as sometimes happened to tools used by Great lakes indians who thought they could placate lake spirits with gifts.

More modern North American celts / axes are found on the web site below ae made in a combination of ways, most made entirely or finished by a pecking and grinding method as opposed to just being made exclusively via percussion- but it's interesting and informative:

AXE ME NO QUESTIONS

28 posted on 12/17/2004 12:01:20 PM PST by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
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To: Fierce Allegiance

I promise to proofread better in the future!


29 posted on 12/17/2004 12:02:09 PM PST by Fierce Allegiance (Stay safe in the "sandbox" Greg!)
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To: blam
Andesite bedrock only occurs in the Lake District or North Wales and this is only the ninth andesite hand axe to be found in the midlands in over a century. Archaeologists are now trying to figure out how the tool might have got there.

Trade and commerce are as old as the human race. It's in our nature. That's why all efforts to significantly limit trade fail.

30 posted on 12/17/2004 12:02:41 PM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
Thanks Blam.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

31 posted on 12/17/2004 12:04:15 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: piasa

And percussion flaking andesite is not easy as most posters on here seem to think. I could probably bang a similar one out in 30-60 minutes, given the right hammer stone, but most people wouldn't have a clue how to even start.


32 posted on 12/17/2004 12:06:03 PM PST by Betis70 (I'm only Left Wing when I play hockey)
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To: pigsmith

Dating is done usually by dating organic material found with a site. If you find flint tools next to a butchered animal carcass, for example, you can do isochron dating on the carcass to date it, and thusly the tools by association. Since most tools from a given era look similar, you can date other tools from the originals, given that all of the tools are found in the same geographic area.


33 posted on 12/17/2004 12:10:27 PM PST by ThinkPlease (Fortune Favors the Bold!)
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To: My2Cents; Howlin



GOOD ONE!

Thanks for ping to M2C's hilarity.


34 posted on 12/17/2004 12:11:09 PM PST by onyx (A BLESSED & MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.)
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To: blam

Amazingly, they also found some more votes for Digregoire.


35 posted on 12/17/2004 12:12:53 PM PST by CaptRon (Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead)
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To: AmericanInTokyo

That Barney Rubble probably borrowed it ya know, some 496,992 years ago.


36 posted on 12/17/2004 12:13:57 PM PST by Esther Ruth
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To: Esther Ruth

Nobody ever forgets where they buried the hatchet.


37 posted on 12/17/2004 12:21:46 PM PST by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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To: My2Cents

LOLOL! Very good.


38 posted on 12/17/2004 12:22:05 PM PST by Peach (The Clintons pardoned more terrorists and international criminals than they ever captured or killed)
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To: blam
[A Stone Age hand axe dating back 500,000 years has been discovered at a quarry in Warwickshire.]

"Smiths Concrete Bubbenhall Quarry, Est. 500,000 years BC"

39 posted on 12/17/2004 12:23:47 PM PST by Mad_Tom_Rackham (Time to let slip the dogs...)
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To: Publius6961
No, it would be rather obvious by the different fill color, soil density and organic traces in the material used as fill that the cell phone was merely set in fill and was not in context with the surrounding strata. Getting the sequence right in the backfilling process is insufficient.

It's not usually hard to see the outlines of past soil disturbances at archaeological sites. In Indian mounds a cross section even reveals the individual basket loads of earth with remarkable clarity. Old fire pits alter the color and other characteristics of soils as well, burnt posts leave their own distinct marks, layers of burnt thatch still others, groundhog and other rodent tunnels show themselves clearly, trash pits are distinguishable, cooking pits leave the soil with a peculiar odor and greasiness even after hundreds of years or more, rotted wood also changes soil color in the space it occupied long af the wood is gone, etc. No matter how careful you are you cannot replace what has been dug out perfectly and maintain all the different factors to hide what you did.

Also, how reasonable is it to think that someone made an axe or found a more recent one and decided to risk losing that hard work or losing that artifact- surely even a more recent one has some value- for the sake of a prank? How reasonable is it to assume someone randomly chose a spot in the ground in which to set up a trick in the hopes there would be an archaeological dig there some day, and some archaeologists would come along and just happen to pick the vary same spot to dig, and just happen to dig to the very same same depth, and just happen to find what the prankster left and not be deterred by the lack of other finds or clues yet keep digging to the neccessary level, and not be curious that nothing else was found there but an odd, long backfilled hole containing the axe? In this theory that it could be planted, did the prankster have the foresight to decide to play the trick a thousand years ago, a hundred years ago, or the day before the archaeologists started to dig? For what reason would anyone go through the trouble? You can have more fun with archaeologists if you just get them drunk.

40 posted on 12/17/2004 12:25:19 PM PST by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
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To: AnalogReigns
Anyway, 500,000 years sounds like bunk.

That's what I was thinking. You'd expect the housing industry would be much further ahead if it were 500,000 years old.

41 posted on 12/17/2004 12:28:50 PM PST by weenie (Islam is as "dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog." -- Churchill)
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To: My2Cents
No, that's not Piltdown Man's axe...here's Piltdown Man's axe (and that's his squeeze playing it):


42 posted on 12/17/2004 12:30:26 PM PST by snarks_when_bored
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To: piasa
the odds of getting that lucky via Momma Nature are very very slim.

very, very slim, which is still astronomically higher than the odds of say, the sophistication of my DNA or my eyeball alone, evolving, eh?

43 posted on 12/17/2004 12:32:23 PM PST by Colofornian
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To: blam

Can you ask this guy to also dig around and see if he finds any ballots from Washington State?

Thanks!


44 posted on 12/17/2004 12:33:06 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (Go Ahead. Mace just makes me even more excited.)
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To: Colofornian

LOLOLOL.....that's true. So, according to science, maybe the axe just chanced into being there. How do they KNOW someone made the axe?


45 posted on 12/17/2004 12:40:01 PM PST by micheknows
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To: Betis70; piasa; Colofornian; blam
And percussion flaking andesite is not easy as most posters on here seem to think.>

I agree. It all appears to be hard-hammer (hammerstone) percussion flaking. For working andesite, that must have been one tough hammerstone! Looks to me like they started with a near-net-shape thin, ovoid andesite cobble -- and basically just edged it. I see no evidence of biface thinning (no flakes crossing the midline...)

Given the right materials (core-cobble and hammerstone) I could make a replica in a few minutes -- but I'd thicken up the padding I use on my "anvil leg" considerably over what I normaly use for chert...

TXnMA
Texas Archeological Steward

(...and, based on prior experience knapping tough materials, I'd probably still be sore the next day...)

46 posted on 12/17/2004 12:40:35 PM PST by TXnMA (Attention, ACLU: There is no constitutionally protected right to NOT be offended -- Shove It!)
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To: AnalogReigns
Anyway, 500,000 years sounds like bunk.

I suspect that it is a typo...one too many zeroes. Most anthropologists put the start of homo sapiens at between 120,000 to 500,000 years ago (I know, big window). So either this axe belonged to an earlier hominid or those sapiens characters jumped from East Africa to the midlands much more promptly than anyone has guessed before. If I am right that there is one too many zeroes, that puts it at 50,000 years old, which coincides nicely with the begining of the early upper paleolithic era...which certainly seems to fit the design of the axe...and it would fit the migratory models.

47 posted on 12/17/2004 12:43:24 PM PST by blanknoone (The two big battles left in the War on Terror are against our State dept and our media.)
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To: piasa
deliberate pattern of percussion flaking

If science can talk about "codes" within parts of our bodies and within nature minus acknowledging a code-maker, then I think we can start talking about a lot of archaelogical discoveries across the board that may appear to have been of human origin, but were simply of natural origin.

Increasing complexity, after all, is the standard earmark of scientific discovery. That is the condeded pattern.

So, mark this equation: Any rudimentary object is the potential ancestor/parent of increasingly complex objects. The totally unsophisticated can morph into the sophisticated, as long as your recipe has "enough" time (whatever that is).

So, 500,000 years for nature to work on an axe head? Oh, a few scratchings are a piece of cake in comparison to the wonder and awe of the worksmanship of our own bodies!

What? You don't believe my description about your unsophisticated, multiple great-grandthing as your original ancestor? All ya need to do is take a leap of faith like most normal scientific evolutionists, preaching at a university pulpit near you!

48 posted on 12/17/2004 12:43:34 PM PST by Colofornian
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To: blam
I am having a hard time with the 500,000 years. Humans did not exist 500,000 years ago. In fact that is kinda earily for even Neanderthals. Who was making tools as complex as axes 500,000 years ago?
49 posted on 12/17/2004 12:45:40 PM PST by jpsb
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To: blam

How do they know it is 500k years old?


50 posted on 12/17/2004 12:45:57 PM PST by RobRoy (Science is about "how." Christianity is about "why.")
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