Saturday, February 14, 2009
"Swiss Army Knife" of the Stone Age
The handaxe, a hand-sized tear drop-shaped stone tool, had been utilized for tens of thousands of years. First making its appearance in Africa, it was the first deliberately stylized form of stone tool working. Some considered it be the "swiss army knife" of the stone age because of its diverse uses. You carried everything you owned, so you only carried what was important. A multi-functional tool, like the handaxe, could be used for a variety of tasks. The tip was good for digging and piercing, for getting to buried bulbs and tubers or making the incision on a fresh kill. The upper edges near the tip were thinned, like a knife, for cutting and butchering purposes. The deep flake scars in the middle range work well for scraping shafts...also for producing shavings for tinder in wet weather. Edges closer to the base were suitable for chopping and hacking functions. The thick butt made a good hand hold as well serving as a good tool for pounding and smashing. If needed, the handaxe was also a core that sharp flakes could be removed from. Basically, you had a knife, hammer, axe, scraper, pick, blade core, and more - all in one.
(Scraping a spear shaft)