Archaeologists in the southeast of England have discovered prehistoric ax so big it would be almost impossible to use it as a cutting tool. This hand ax is about 300,000 years old and is the third largest ever found in Britain.
A team from Archeology South-East of the UCL Institute of Archeology excavated Manor Farm in Kent before building a new school (the Naval Academy, which gave the finds its name). The team unearthed over 800 Paleolithic stone artifacts in fluvial deposits of a prehistoric tributary of the Medway River. Some of these were hand axes, and two of them were giants of the form known as fikron, characterized by a rounded, thick base tapering to a long, finely worked tip. One is 23 cm (nine inches) long, but without a tip. The other is 29.6 cm (11.6 in) long and undamaged. Its width at its widest point is 11.3 cm (4.4 in).
Senior archaeologist Letty Ingrey (UCL London Institute of Archeology) said: “We call these instruments ‘giants’ when they are over 22 cm long, and we have two instruments of that size. The largest, a whopping 29.5cm long, is one of the longest ever found in the UK. These “giant axes” are commonly found in the Thames and Medway regions and have been dated to be over 300,000 years old.
“These axes are so big that it’s hard to imagine how they could be easily held and used. Perhaps they served a less practical or more symbolic function than other instruments, a clear demonstration of power and skill. While right now we’re not sure why such large tools were made, or what kinds of ancient people made them, this site offers an opportunity to answer those exciting questions.”
The foot-long Fikron of the Naval Academy is in excellent condition with minimal wear and tear and is larger than any other stone artifact found in its bed of river sand and gravel. Given these features, archaeologists believe it was found largely where it was deposited rather than damaged during the long river journey. Side 2 was slightly more worn and stained than Side 1, indicating that the ax likely spent a considerable amount of time side 2 up.
Although archeological finds from this century, including another impressive “giant” axe, have already been found in the Medway Valley, they were first discovered during large-scale excavations, which provides an opportunity to learn more about the life of their creators.
Dr Matt Pope (UCL Institute of Archaeology) said: “The Naval Academy excavations have given us an incredibly valuable opportunity to study how the entire Ice Age landscape developed over a quarter of a million years ago. A scientific analysis program involving specialists from UCL and other UK institutions will now help us understand why this site was important to ancient people and how stone artifacts, including “giant axes”, helped them adapt to the challenges of the Ice Age. Wednesday.”
The discovery was published in a magazine Internet archeology. Other famous finds of the Naval Academy will be published in subsequent articles.