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.

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

Miniature handaxe made of flint.

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

Handaxe made of flint.


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