Evidence for stone tool-use among our earliest hominid ancestors dates to 3.4 million years ago, however, the first use of grinding to sharpen stone tool edges such as axes is clearly associated with modern humans, otherwise known as Homo sapiens sapiens.
Monash University archaeologist and member of the team who made the discovery, Dr Bruno David said while there have been reports of much older axes being found in New Guinea, the implements were not ground.
"This suggests that axe technology evolved into the later use of grinding for the sharper, more symmetrical and maintainable edges this generates," said Dr David.
"The ground-axe fragment is dated to 35,000 years ago, which pre-dates the oldest examples of ground-edge implements dated to 22,000-30,000 years ago from Japan and Northern Australia."
Archaeological excavations undertaken in May 2010 at Nawarla Gabarnmang in Northern Australia uncovered the artefact.
Nawarla Gabarnmang is a large rock-shelter in Jawoyn Aboriginal country in southwestern Arnhem Land. The discovery of the rock-shelter was made by Ray Whear and Chris Morgan from the Jawoyn Association while flying by helicopter on 15 June 2006.
The discovery of the axe was made by a team of researchers including Jean-Michel Geneste from the Centre National de Prehistoire of the Ministry of Culture in France, Hugues Plisson from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at the University of Bordeaux in France, Christopher Clarkson from the University of Queensland, Jean-Jacques Delannoy from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at the University de Savoie in France and Fiona Petchey from the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
"Axes fulfilled a unique position within the Aboriginal toolkit as long use-life chopping tools, were labour intensive to manufacture and highly valued," said Dr David.
"During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, axes were understood by local Aboriginal communities to carry with them the ancestral forces which characterised the particular quarry from which they came,"
"Their trade across the landscape moved not just the tool itself, but more importantly the symbolic and ancestral forces of their point of origin. The Nawarla Gabarnmang axe, found some 40km from its source, is evidence of 35,000 years of the movement of tools, technologies and ideas across the northern Australian landscape,"
"This new evidence for the earliest securely dated ground-edge implement in the world indicates that Australia was an important locale of technological innovation 35,000 years ago."
"This discovery will assist researchers in Australia and around the world as we examine the evolution of human behaviour and the earliest technological advancements," said Dr David.
The find is reported in the December issue of Australian Archaeology, the official journal of the Australian Archaeological Association Inc. The project was funded by the Australian Government's Indigenous Heritage Program administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
For more information contact Megan Gidley, Media and Communications + 61 3 9903 4843 or 0448 574 148.
NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds
24.09.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
558 million-year-old fat reveals earliest known animal
21.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...
21.09.2018 | Event News
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
24.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
24.09.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.09.2018 | Health and Medicine