Skip to comments.Discovery of ancient axes delights experts[UK][400K BC]
Posted on 09/18/2008 7:30:37 AM PDT by BGHater
They may only look like a couple of sharp rocks, but 400,000 years ago these stones may well have been used as axes to butcher woolly rhinos.
Archaeologists were celebrating the find of the two rare huge hand axes found in a gravel pit at a Somerset quarry.
Dr Laura Basell, Professor Tony Brown and Dr Phil Toms could not believe their luck when they spotted the pair at Bardon Aggregates' quarry at Chard Junction.
And it is thought that the quality of the workmanship indicates it was not our own species wielding the deadly hand axes back in the paleolithic period but Heidelberg Man, a type of early human skilled in the art of hunting.
With his large brow ridges and strong jaw Heidelberg Man named after remains found in Germany was very different in appearance from modern man, but could produce effective and beautiful tools.
Dr Basell, of Oxford University, Professor Brown, of Southampton University, and Dr Toms, of Gloucestershire University, were monitoring the lowest phase of the gravel workings 15-18 metres down in a quarry in the Axe Valley on the Somerset-Dorset border, when they made the finds.
One axe lay on the ground while the other had been lifted onto a nearby spoil heap by a mechanical digger. Their position together and in the lowest level suggests they have not moved since they were carried to their point of discovery among river gravels around 370,000 years ago.
And that makes their discovery even more exciting, helping to identify areas within the quarry where more finds are possible.
Professor Brown said: "They were quite close together and that is important to us. These are river gravels so they have been transported, but they haven't been transported far.
"The material from which the axes are made is chirt, which is found in the Blackdown Hills and there would have been quite a lot of it available on the tops of the hills around here and there would have been boulders of it in the valleys."
Only one other archaeological site has been identified, in the West, as potentially being older than the Chard Junction site, and that is the famous site at Kents Cavern near Torquay. The late John Wymer, the famed "grandfather of paleolithic archaeology in Britain" discovered two similar had axes in the Chard Junction quarry in 1959 and in the 1970s.
The archaeologists are now awaiting dating of a sample of sediment from the level at which the axes were found. Dr Basell believes that it could show the tools are 400,000 years old.
Bardon Aggregates, which runs the quarry, and Forde Abbey estate which owns some of the land welcome researchers.
Richard Page, Bardon's operations manger for Devon and Dorset, said: "It is a fantastic find and we are very happy to be working with Southampton University and Forde Abbey. Our aggregates go into construction and everything that makes a modern society.
"It is unusual for an industry to have such a link with the past and to be able to learn about it and also to be able to build a better future."
Professor Brown said: "Without the cooperation of Bardon Aggregates and the process of mineral extraction, geoscientists and archaeologists like ourselves wouldn't be able to conduct our research."
The Craftsman Warranty is still good. Just take it to Sears.
They still can. We gots plenty............
We have come to expect that from German engineering.
You guys are great! Thanks for the morning chuckles.
“Shamwow. Made by the Germans. You know they always make great stuff.”
They’ll need ‘em trying to beat back the consequences of caving to Sharia law. Better sharpen them up, guys!
The Gang of 10? 20?
I found a round rock in my back yard. I think it was used to bludgeon it to death first before using the other to butcher it.
Thanks BGHater. The Heidelbergensis Uncertainty Principle rears its fairly nice lookin' head. ;')
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Looks like Black & Decker to me.