Early Neolithic Stone 5.71" Handaxe/Biface
Early Neolithic Stone 5.71" Handaxe/Biface
The oldest knowledge of humankind we have doesn’t come from stories or recorded histories, but the stones our ancient ancestors left behind.
Commonly known as handaxes, the true span of their use went far beyond that. Choppers, blades, scrapers, points, and crushing tools have all been discovered and many tools may have been reshaped over time to be used for new purposes. This specimen is a 5.71" handaxe/biface from North Africa and is dated to roughly 12,000 years old.
📸 A complete Neolithic Era Biface
An Incredible Piece of Human History
For most of history, the stone tool was one of the most important pieces of technology our species had. Stone tools like this one were used to chop, slash, crush, grind, dig, build, and more — they were truly a ubiquitous object.
Though they might seem simple, the work that went into creating a stone tool could be quite complex. By striking a piece of flint or chert at the right location, chips could be cleaved off in a process known as "knapping." The end result of this was two fold: a sharpened biface or handaxe and many flint chips which could be used as scrapers, arrowheads, or small tools.
This was the primary method of tool construction for hundreds of thousands of years, though in the later Neolithic other techniques were developed such as grinding and polishing to create more specific tools.
📸 See the ancient craftsmanship present in each tool
This particular tool comes from North Africa and is dated to roughly 12,000 years old. This time was a transition point into the Neolithic and the end of a tool-making tradition that stretched tens of thousands of years into the past.
Each tool ships in a sturdy cardboard carton and a certificate of authenticity is included with every specimen. Every Neolithic tool is a unique, one-of-a-kind artifact and is priced by size. You can see all our available tools in the collection below.
Earliest construction: ROUGHLY 2,600,000 years ago
MORE ABOUT Stone Tools
📸 Neolithic Paintings from Tassili N'Ajjer, Algeria
📸 A smaller, scraper sized tool
The First Technology
Stone tools are among the oldest human artifacts on the planet and they are the most abundant source of information about how ancient cultures lived. Clothing, wood, and even bones are decayed by the passage of time, but the resilience of stone tells us how truly ancient we are as a species.
The earliest known tools date back 2,600,000 million years, deep into the Paleolithic and far older than any known human civilization. For the vast majority of human history, the stone tool was the presiding technology of its time. Though styles varied over time, the core method of creating a knapped stone tool remained relatively consistent through the Paleolithic. A starting rock of flint would have one side knapped to a sharp point by beating the edges with a hammerstone or antler. The other half was rounded out, giving the tool an almond look. This allowed it to fit snugly into one’s hand for both comfort and grip.
These tools are commonly known as handaxes, though the true span of their use went far beyond that. Choppers, blades, scrapers, points, and crushing tools have all been discovered and many tools may have been reshaped over time to be used for new purposes. Because of their wide versatility, the name "biface" has become the accepted terminology in the field.
Reading the stones
It is most common to find tools with some form of symmetry present in their design. Some archaeologists posit that this shows a stylistic intent in their crafting, as well as a functional one. Perhaps these ancient craftsmen were quite similar to us, taking pride in creating a fine-looking tool.
12,000 years ago, as agricultural revolutions began in societies around the world, the tools humans used changed to meet the needs of farming. Some of these Neolithic era tools still consisted of the original flint knapping techniques, while others were made from ground and polished rocks like basalts and jade. These ground stone tools allowed for finer detail, with sickles, mortar and pestles, and beads appearing alongside improved scrapers and blades.
Through the forms of these ancient tools, we can discover what the day-to-day lives of early humans would have been. A large amount of scrapers and points from the Paleolithic period tells us that survival relied on foraging and hunting. As the Neolithic period progressed, the shift in tool use to grinding flour and cultivation of crops shows the progression to an agrarian lifestyle, long before any recorded history notes it.
Wright, Katherine I. “Ground-Stone Tools and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence in Southwest Asia: Implications for the Transition to Farming.” American Antiquity, vol. 59, no. 2, Society for American Archaeology, 1994, pp. 238–63.
Keeley, Lawrence H. “The Functions of Paleolithic Flint Tools.” Scientific American, vol. 237, no. 5, Scientific American, a division of Nature America, Inc., 1977, pp. 108–27.
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