Collecting Pre-Historic Axe HeadsWe all have an idea of what prehistoric man was like and how he lived - most of us of a certain age think of the traditional caveman who went around wearing animal skins and carried rough-hewn tools. Well, those tools actually existed - and collecting these rare and unbelievably ancient items can be a fun and exciting challenge.
The Paleolithic age began about 2 million years ago - beginning with mans first use of stone tools - and lasted until the introduction of agriculture with the Neolithic people 8000 years ago. The Paleolithic were primarily hunter-gatherers centered around a clan leadership system. The era can be divided into three sections - the upper, middle and lower. The lower is the oldest at 120,000 to 2 million years ago - the time of Homo Erectus and the hand-axe. The middle is 30,000 to 300,000 years - the time of Neanderthal man and when prepared core flake tools first appeared - and the upper is 10,000 to 30,000 years ago when Cro-Magnon man appeared. This is when language and cave-art first made an appearance.
Survival and technological skills during this period were high. As well as huge hand-axes there are also knives, arrows, spears, clubs as well as tools such as awls and needles. Most were made from stone with the occasional animal bone, wood and clay artefact appearing.
They were also skilled in the use of poisons and were capable of freezing or preserving foods.
The Neolithic age was the latter part of the Stone-Age, and began when man ceased the nomadic way of life and began settling in agricultural communities. As well as hunting, they started keeping livestock and growing crops in annual cycles. It lasted until the first metal-tools were introduced 4000 - 4500 years ago with the Iron and Bronze Ages.
Both periods provide a plethora of collectable pieces, each unique and hand-made thousands of years ago. To hold a handaxe knowing it was used in the basic, everyday survival by our earliest ancestors is a wonderful experience. The smaller blades and celts can show worn sections where ancient fingers have gripped and come in a variety of sizes.
Arrowheads are varied too, each having a unique purpose. Those from fishing communities differ from those used in deserts and so on.
Unfortunately, with these items being popular collectables there are numerous fakes on the market. It is a cottage industry in North and Western Africa mass producing these items (its usually the village kids) so be wary of bulk lots of arrowheads etc. We have previously sourced a bag of 1000 of these fakes and sell them as replicas to schools and students as replicas for use as teaching and study aids. Our genuine pieces come from respected dealers we know and trust and quite simply breathe history. The feel and texture is noticeably different from the newer item.
These ancient tools are discovered in ancient streambeds, mountains and what is now desert - (The Sahara was grassland 4000 years ago). Shifting sands and winds expose these items frequently (but never in bulk lots!) and they usually have a nice soapy texture to them with a desert patina. Quite often one side will be darker than the other as it has been exposed to the dry heat and wind. The reverse side would have been dirtside-down and not as exposed as much.