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Aborigine Technology

6 November 2010

At www.theage.com.au/national/3500yearold-axe-head-places-aborigine-ancestors-at-the-cutting-edge-of-technology/ November 6th … a 35,000 year old axe fragment found in Arnhem Land in Australia is thought to be the oldest (so far) ground edge tool in the world and it is making scientists reconsider when the technique of grinding to sharpen tools first began. Ground edge tools have been found elsewhere in Australia (30,000 years ago) and Japan (22,000 years ago) and no such evidence for grinding has been found in other parts of the world. This may be as a result of flint knapping when sharp edges were produced by chipping and flaking and grinding would not have been necessarily advantageous. However, the impetus of the article is that Aborigines were in possession of state of the art technology when European hunters used spears to hunt their prey so there is a touch of modern politics in the press release – if not the findings. It was found in charcoal C14 dated to 35,000 years ago, in a cave and in a layered context. However, it should not be as much a surprise as is expressed in the press release as there is evidence of grinding in the process of making beads – and they go back long before 35,000 years ago.

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