Four British Paleolithic handaxes

Four British Paleolithic handaxes

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Four pointed British paleolithic (Mode 2 acheulian) handaxes. These were made from flint (silex) by Homo heidelbergensis between approximately 400, 000 and 100, 000 years ago. The handaxes exhibit some of the different patinas that burial can impart on flint (iron stains orange). In places the orignal cortex of the worked flint nodule is still evident. From the left, the smallest handaxe is 11cm long and found in rolled transported glacial material, the second handaxe is a finely pointed micoqiuan handaxe from Swanscombe found at Milton Pitt by Smith and Dewey in situ before WWII. The third handaxe is a trapezoid Thames terrace handaxe, contrasting in shape with the fourth handaxe (unprovenanced) which shows a triangular form approaching the 'ficron" and which is 18cm long. Until John Frere (1797), handaxes were thought to be either 'atifices of nature' or the work of pre-roman brittons.

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Keywords: acheulian, biface, british, evolution, ficron, flint, glacial, handaxe, heidelbergensis, homo, human ancestor, human antiquity, ice age, john frere, patina, sapiens, sexual selection, silex, swanscombe, thames, tool

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