Monday, November 08, 2010

OLDEST STONE AGE AX FOUND IN AUSTRALIA

Archaeologists revealed they have found a piece of a stone ax 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 ax, 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 ax. The person who was using the ax was grinding it against a sandstone surface in order to make it a smoother surface," continued David.

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.

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. "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.

"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.

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