Lower Palaeolithic Biface. Acheulean Industry.
Kent. Southern United Kingdom Approx. 300,000BP
This Acheulean biface found in Kent, is a classic Mode 2 implement fashioned from flint that has deeply yellowed through mineral absorption after deposition.
The Acheulean or Mode 2 industry from the lower Palaeolithic spans a time of roughly 500,000 – 200,000 BP and represents an advancement over the overlapping more primitive Mode 1 Clactonian tool type production as fashioned by Homo heidelbergensis in Britain some 400,000 years ago. Examples of the Acheulean industry can be found from southern Africa to Northern Europe and Asia, with the biface or ‘hand axe’ being the characteristic multipurpose tool of that period.
This example originates from deposits approximately 300,000 years old and is considered to have been the work of Homo heidelbergensis, a forefather to both Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens.
At the time that heidelbergensis sat chipping this biface, in the lower Palaeolithic period, global sea levels were much lower than they are today and Britain was still a peninsula jutting out from North West Europe, with warmer more Mediterranean-like climate. Lions, Hyena, Rhino, Hippopotamus and Elephant shared the Pleistocene landscape and at several Lower Palaeolithic sites in the United Kingdom, most notably Boxgrove and Swanscombe, flint bifaces and associated manufacturing ‘scatter’ have been found in large quantities, the tools being produced in situ presumably for despatching animals and butchering meat.
Stippled ink drawings
Throughout the entire evolution of humankind, from the first instance of tool use some 1.8 million years ago, stone has been by far the most widely utilised material fashioned by man. It was only with the ability to extract copper, as recently as 7,000 years ago, that the slow transition from the use of stone implements to those of metal began, a transition that may well have witnessed the continued use of lithic tools contemporaneously throughout the Bronze age and possibly even into the early Iron age, around 500BC.
The Neolithic, or new stone age, was the shortest and final phase of the stone age and bore witness to perhaps the greatest revolution in human history, that of farming and permanent settlement on the land.
It is during the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age periods that we see the first field boundaries appear, and more significantly the raising of impressive megalithic structures across Briton and Europe such as the enigmatic stones at Callanish on Lewis, the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, Avebury in Wiltshire and of course Stonehenge, considered by some scholars as amongst other things, a manifestation of the community and the ability of tribal leaders to gather considerable manpower and resources.
Tools such as this semi-polished flint
axe head would have been important daily implements for the felling
of trees and the clearing of land, and with man’s propensity to
make war, augmented by his increasingly sedentary lifestyle, hafted
with a long wooden handle, a flint axe such as this, could also have
made a dangerous and functional weapon.
Stippled ink drawing
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