Two giant prehistoric hand axes, one of which is about a foot long, have been uncovered in deep Ice Age sediments in the south of England.
The 300,000-year-old tools, slabs of flint chipped on both sides to create jagged edges, were found among than 800 artifacts buried on a hillside above the Medway Valley in Kent.
“We describe these tools as ‘giants’ when they are over 22cm long and we have two in this size range,” senior archaeologist Letty Ingrey of the UCL Institute of Archeology said in a press release.
The two largest hand axes are about 12 inch long. According to Ingrey who was involved in the dig, this is one of the biggest ever discovered in Britain.
Archaeologists think these types of tools were typically used to butcher or skin animals.
But these particular hand axes “are so big it’s difficult to imagine how they could have been easily held and used,” Ingrey said.
“Perhaps they fulfilled a less practical or more symbolic function than other tools, a clear demonstration of strength and skill,” she said.
According to the press release, at the time the Medway Valley was a premier hunting area for deer and horses as well as the now extinct straight-tusked lions, elephants, and straight-tusked tusked elephants who lived there.
Early humans would have shared the landscape with Neanderthals whose peoples and cultures were just beginning to emerge in the area, per the press release.
“We don’t know why these large tools were made, or what species of early humans were responsible for making them.
” This site gives us a chance at answering these fascinating questions.