1697 Grays Inn first British handaxe

1697 Grays Inn first British handaxe

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Steel plate engraving with later tinting of a handaxe discovered near the bones of an elephant by John Conyers in London 1697. The illustration comes from John Evans' seminal (1859) paper "On the occurrence of Flint Implements in undisturbed beds of Gravel, Sand and Clay: read June 2, 1859", Plate XVI, Archaeologia, Vol 38, 280-307 (1860). Conyers' discovery was first published by John Bagford who thought the axe to be a weapon of the ancient Britons used to kill an invading Roman War Elephant. Evans used it in this paper as part of his first confirmation (with Joseph Prestwich) of a long human history stretching back to the time of the extinct megafauna (using Boucher De Perthes' finds in France as principle evidence). We now know the axe is about 350, 000 years old, from an interglacial period when there were elephants present around the Thames valley as well as Homo heidelbergensis.

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Keywords: artwork, biface, british museum, discovery, drift, flint, flint implement, fossil, fossil elephant, gray's inn, greys inn, handaxe, heidelbergensis, homo, human antiquity, illustration, implement, john evans, london, pleistocene, prestwich, tool

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