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Great Handaxe from Furze Platt

Great Handaxe from Furze Platt - Natural History Museum, London - Joy of Museums

Great Handaxe from Furze Platt

This large handaxe was produced by the Acheulian culture of 400,000 years ago, during the Lower Palaeolithic period.  It was found in Furze Platt, Berkshire, Britain in 1919.

It is one of the largest Handaxes ever found in Europe and considered too bulky to be useful, and therefore considered to have been a Neanderthal status symbol.


A handaxe is a prehistoric stone tool with two faces that is the longest-used tool in human history. It is characteristic of the lower Acheulean and middle Palaeolithic periods.

The most common hand axes have a pointed end and rounded base, which gives them their distinctive shape, and both faces have been knapped to remove the natural cortex, at least partly. 

Hand axes were the first prehistoric tools to be recognized as such and were used to butcher animals, to dig, to chop wood, to hunt and to defend or attack.


Acheulean culture describes the archaeological period of stone tool manufacture characterized by distinctive oval and pear-shaped “hand-axes” associated with Homo erectus and derived species.

Acheulean tools were produced during the Lower Palaeolithic era across Africa and much of West Asia, South Asia, and Europe, and are typically found with Homo erectus remains.

In Europe and Western Asia, early Neanderthals adopted Acheulean technology.

Great Handaxe from Furze Platt

  • Title:             Great Handaxe from Furze Platt
  • Date:             400,000 years ago
  • Culture:        Acheulean
  • Found:          1919 – Furze Platt, Berkshire, Britain
  • Dimensions: L: 30.6 cm; W:  2.8 kg
  • Museum:     Natural History Museum, London

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM

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