World's oldest axe found in Australia

Nov 05, 2010
An ancient Aboriginal rock carving is seen in this photo taken on the Burrup Peninsula in the north of Western Australia. Archaeologists have found a piece of a stone axe dated as 35,500 years old on sacred Aboriginal land in Australia, the oldest object of its type ever found.

Archaeologists revealed they have found a piece of a stone axe dated as 35,500 years old on sacred Aboriginal land in Australia, the oldest object of its type ever found.

The shard of stone, found in Australia's lush and remote far northern reaches in May, has marks that prove it comes from a ground-edge stone axe, Monash University's Bruno David said on Friday.

"We could see with the angled light that the rock itself has all these marks on it from people having rubbed it in order to create the ground-edge axe," he told the ABC.

"The person who was using the was grinding it against a sandstone surface in order to make it a smoother surface."

David said the previous oldest ground-edge axes were 20,000 to 30,000 years old, and the conventional belief was that the tool first emerged in Europe when populations grew and forests flourished at the end of the last Ice Age.

"What we've got in Australia, however, is evidence of ground-edge axes going back 35,000 years ago," he said.

"What this all means is that we know that the conventional story that comes from Europe does not explain the origin of axes globally. So we've got to think of it in a very different way."

David said the discovery is evidence that Aboriginal Jawoyn people from Arnhem Land could have been the first to grind axes to sharpen their edges.

Nawarla Gabarnmang is the archaeological site in Jawoyn country from which the 35,000 year old piece of ground-edge axe was found. Credit: Bruno David

"It means that you're creating a tool that is far more efficient than what you had before, and that you also have to create a tool not just through a simple series of actions of hitting against it," he said.

The piece of stone was found in a remote patch of the Northern Territory amid traditional Aboriginal rock art paintings believed to date back thousands of years.

"It's a very remote location, it's quite a spectacular site that is covered in rock art," David said, adding that the cave where the stone was found was well protected from the elements.

Jawoyn Aboriginal people, who had invited the archaeologists to their land to examine the site, said the find was a meaningful connection to their ancestors.

"They (the ) study about rocks and bone and everything and I wanted to know the truth," landowner Margaret Katherine told the ABC.

"Now that I know the truth I am very happy deep inside."

Arnhem Land, a 97,000 square kilometre (38,800 square mile) patch of forests, rivers and gorges east of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin, is sacred to Aboriginal people.

Explore further: Woolly mammoth skeleton sold at UK auction

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Evolution axe goes on display

Oct 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A flint hand axe that helped reveal the very ancient age of humankind goes on display at the Natural History Museum October 2009.

The Thunderstone Mystery

Jun 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- What's a Stone Age axe doing in an Iron Age tomb? The archaeologists Olle Hemdorff at the University of Stavanger's Museum of Archaeology, Norway, and Eva Thate are researching older objects ...

Recommended for you

Woolly mammoth skeleton sold at UK auction

Nov 26, 2014

The skeleton of an Ice Age woolly mammoth fetched £189,000 ($300,000, 239.000 euros) at auction Wednesday as it went under the hammer in Britain with a host of other rare or extinct species.

User comments : 9

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
1.3 / 5 (14) Nov 05, 2010
First off, why no image of the stone axe part/head in the article?
Secondly, isn't it amazing that people can see a piece of rock and recognize that it's the work of some intelligent being, yet when faced with technology which they recognize exceeds even their wildest dreams, they attribute that technology to random chance and accident? Strange, isn't it?
"They (the archaeologists) study about rocks and bone and everything and I wanted to know the truth," landowner Margaret Katherine told the ABC.

"Now that I know the truth I am very happy deep inside."

What is truth? The truth spoken today can change in the blink of an eye when someone else discovers another dating technique to use or that the stone which was discovered does not really belong to those supposed people etc. This person who has now found 'the truth' is bound to be confused later on.
There is no truth in evolution. It is as pliable as the water in a bucket, changing with every dip of the hand. Ungraspable.
Doug_Huffman
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 05, 2010
Truth is falsifiable else it allows anything and excepts nothing, the criterion of demarcation.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (10) Nov 05, 2010
Evolution only lacks truth if you're a first class moron. Evolution has clearly stated boundaries and methods which even children can understand. Your assertion that evolution is "ungraspable" is only due to your refusal to accept it, not your ability.

Furthermore, we have an idea of when something is created when it seems unnatural. If I find a tool, sharpened and bound with leather straps, I know of no natural process that can do this. We have however, observed the earth creating the very structures present in it today. By the way, 35,000 year old axe? That's 3.5 times older than the earth?!!! Right Kev? How can this be!? The devil must have confused the dating results to test our faith. The damn clever foe that he is!!!
PieRSquare
4.6 / 5 (5) Nov 05, 2010
We really have to stop responding to Kev's inane posts, he clearly has no genuine interest in science and he might lose interest if we stop playing flamewar with him. Back to the issue at hand...
What this all means is that we know that the conventional story that comes from Europe does not explain the origin of axes globally. So we've got to think of it in a very different way.
This may be true but there is also the possibility that each culture independently developed the ground-edge hand axe. There are a number of examples of technologies being invented more than once when the conditions for their invention are present.
ricarguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2010
As for the axe, it can only be concluded that we have a new example of a very old man-made tool. When and who made the first such examples will never be known with any certainty. Really one doesn't have to be that clever to rub two rocks together to create a desired shape or feature. Nor is it difficult to determine that a sharp rock might be useful for something.

As for evolution vs. "intelligent design" or what ever the latest label is, it is silly to say that the two concepts are mutually exclusive. Evolution doesn't necessary imply there is no God. It only goes against certain interpretations of an ancient, and to many, a sacred text. The Bible says that God made Adam out of clay or of Earth. That is quite believable. Years from now when we're all "pushing up daisies", what are we if not back to that Earth? Don't waste time quibbling over silly things.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (8) Nov 05, 2010
When are people going to accept that we're the GMO's of E.T.'s? Enough already with the mythology from both camps.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (4) Nov 05, 2010
The Bible says that God made Adam out of clay or of Earth. That is quite believable.


No, it isn't, not at all, not anywhere. Stop trying to appease both sides. Belief in evolution or gods is not mutually exclusive, in that you are correct. You could believe that god set evolution into motion, but it seems useless to do so. However, when you start claiming that all animals were made simultaneously or that the earth is 10k years old, there is no longer room for that belief anywhere in the year 2010 or beyond. Discussions of our origins and possibly the origins of all life is not a waste of your time and quibbling will always be good use of time.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Nov 06, 2010
Secondly, isn't it amazing that people can see a piece of rock and recognize that it's the work of some intelligent being, yet when faced with technology which they recognize exceeds even their wildest dreams, they attribute that technology to random chance and accident? Strange, isn't it?
Dropping the Jesus thing and going with ET now? Silly boy.
Telekinetic
1.4 / 5 (11) Nov 06, 2010
Recently, a group of retired air force personnel with top secret clearance witnessed (about 120 personnel) hovering UFO's over nuclear silos under their watch. The missiles were deactivated not with some sloppy EMF, but whose electronic controls were selectively infiltrated. They published a book about it a few weeks ago. Since the beings are light years ahead of the human race, it's plausible that they're our progenitors.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.