World's oldest axe discovered in Australia

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Archaeologists in Australia have discovered a fragment of the world’s oldest known ground edge axe, created up to 49,000 years ago, the period coincides with the arrival of people in Australia.

The discovery of the axe that is about the size of a thumbnail and looks like any old piece of rock , was made by Archaeologists of Australian National University (ANU) in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region.

The axe fragment was initially excavated in the early 1990s by Professor O’Connor  from a cave in the Windjana Gorge national park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, but only examined recently. 

Analysis and dating by archaeologists suggests that it is a fragment of the cutting edge of an axe that would have had a handle. The axe would have been used around 46,000 and 49,000 years ago. Humans entered Australia around 50,000 to 55,000 years ago.

Shaped and PolishedStudy conducted by the archaeologists have provided that it comes from an axe made of basalt that had been shaped and polished by grinding it against a softer rock like sandstone.

This type of axe would have been very useful for a variety of tasks including making spears and chopping down or taking the bark off trees.

Hafted axe : A hafted axe is an axe with a handle attached.

Earliest evidence of hafted axesThis is the earliest evidence of hafted axes in the world. Nowhere else in the world do we 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 10,000 years ago. 

Suggests an innovation

The researchers say the axe was probably invented in Australia as there is no evidence of similar tools in south-east Asia, from where the migrants came in Australia. 

Humans colonised the world not because they were equipped with some particular skill they could apply everywhere but because they were creative and could innovate. 

The reserch and findings suggest that technology was developed in Australia after people arrived around 50,000 years ago.

Background : Historians say that people from south-east Asia came and settled in  Australia. In south-east Asia there was abundant of bamboos which is sharp and hard and can be used as a tool but when they came to Australia as migrants there were no bamboos there so they invented new tools which could help them adapt to the exploitation of this new landscape.

Inversion of Europeans superiority : European scholars had presumption that all major  innovations happened in Europe while far-flung places like Australia had little innovation but the discovery of world's oldest axe in Australia has shown that Australia is the place where the technology of making axes was invented and it reached Europe later.

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