April 11, 2014

Polished axes in Australia are 35-30,000 years old

There was a time when "Neolithic" meant age of the polished stone. Not anymore thankfully. Otherwise we would have to write here that "Neolithic" began in Australia 25,000 years before anywhere else. But of course what began so early was the art of making polished stone tools, not farming.

Windjana polished axe fragment

From Science Network (excerpts):
Purposely sharpened or ‘retouched’ stone axes evolved in Australia thousands of years before they appeared in Europe according to researchers studying the south-east Asian archaeological record.

They found 30,000-year-old flakes from ground-edged axes at a site near Windjana Gorge in the central Kimberley.

“The suggestion that all innovation has to come from the Old World is not true because clearly ground-stone axes were created here,” Prof Balme says.

She notes that they were also made in Japan at a slightly later date, by people who would have had no contact with either Australian Aborigines or people in Africa and Europe.

Actually as, David at Prehistoria al Día[es] explains, the Japanese dates are not really more recent, ranging between 34,000 and 38,500 years BP.

Semi-polished edges at tool (scrapper?) from Arnhem Land

Japanese polished axes/adzes

He also includes a most interesting documentary in two videos on how modern Papuans make and use their polished axes (narration in French):


  1. Thanks for linked spanish post Maju, it is very interesting and nice video. Very complicated and long work all the process.

    1. How I'm not going to link if your blog entry is my main source of info?! Thanks to you.

      Yes the video is very interesting to watch, even if you don't understand any French, because all the process is captured in great detail by the camera (and ambient sound).


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