Case 4 - Handaxes

Case 4 - Handaxes

When archaeologists find miniature artefacts, the temptation is to explain away their small size. In the case of a tiny handaxe, such as the one below, the usual interpretation is that it was originally much larger but was worn down by use and re-sharpening. But this would result in an irregularly shaped handaxe, whilst this example is symmetrical.

The explanation could be much simpler. Handaxes were multipurpose tools and learning to use them was a critical skill for children to acquire. This miniature version would have fitted into a child’s hand, and allowed them to learn through play.

University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
Lower Palaeolithic (500,000 – 150,000 years ago)

Handaxe made of flint.

Ipswich Borough Council (Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service)
Lower Palaeolithic, c. 425,000 years ago

Miniature handaxe made of flint.


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