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1797 First Handaxe John Frere of Hoxne 1

1797 First Handaxe John Frere of Hoxne 1

C011/0878

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Engraving (later tinting) XV from article by John Frere in Archeologia 13, 1800. In June of 1797 Frere wrote to the Society of Antiquaries describing that, in the same month, he had observed men digging clearly man-made implements from a Hoxne brick-clay pit. They were found, he reported, below a stratum containing "some extraordinary bones, particularly a jaw bone of enormous size, of some unknown animal". It led him to conjecture that these "weapons of war, fabricated by a people who had not use of metals" belonged to "a very remote period indeed; even beyond that of the present world". His observations were published in the society's journal (this image). They were forgotten until 1859 when the archaeologist John Evans rediscovered the handaxes while making the case for the antiquity of man based on findings in France. The axes are in the British Museum today.

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