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World's Oldest Hatchet in Australia a Cutting-Edge Find

Image: World's Oldest Hatchet in Australia a Cutting-Edge Find
 (Youtube/The University of Sydney)

By    |   Thursday, 12 May 2016 06:39 AM

Fragments of the world's oldest-known hatchet have been discovered in Australia, dating back from 46,000 to 49,000 years, and a study says whoever used it was on the cutting edge. 

The fragments were found in an excavation at a large rock shelter in Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in the early 1990s, but a new analysis revealed that they came from an axe made from basalt "that had been shaped and polished by grinding it against a softer rock like sandstone," according to an Australian National University news release.

Details of the research were first published in the journal Australian Archaeology on Monday.

"Ground/polished axes are not associated with the eastward dispersal of Homo sapiens across Eurasia and the discovery of axes in Australia at the point of colonization exemplifies a diversification of technological practices that occurred as modern humans dispersed from Africa," the study said.

"Ground-edge axes are now known from two different colonized lands at the time humans arrived and hence we argue that these technological strategies are associated with the adaptation of economies and social practices to new environmental contexts." 

Lead archeologist Professor Sue O'Connor wrote that humans first arrived in Australia about 50,000 years ago.

"This is the earliest evidence of hafted axes in the world," saod O'Connor, a professor from the university's School of Culture, History and Language. "Nowhere else in the world do you get axes at this date. In Japan such axes appear about 35,000 years ago. But in most countries in the world they arrive with agriculture after 10,000 years ago."

Peter Hiscock, from the University of Sydney, analyzed the axe fragments. He theorized that the humans started developing new technology once they arrived in Australia since there was no knowledge of axes being used in Southeast Asia during the Ice Age.

"Early humans moving out of Africa were being very inventive and developing new technologies to help them with new environments," Hiscock told the Washington Post. "This was probably a significant advantage to the migrating humans."

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Fragments of the world's oldest-known hatchet have been discovered in Australia, dating back from 46,000 to 49,000 years, and a study says whoever used it was on the cutting edge.
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2016-39-12
Thursday, 12 May 2016 06:39 AM
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