added by archaeologs One of the most typical stone tools of the Lower Palaeolithic period. Characteristically it is made on a nodule which has been flaked over both surfaces until it is approximately almond-shaped.Usually one end is more pointed than the other, but the whole tool is normally symmetrical about its long axis. Hand axes first appear between one and two million years ago and they were common in assemblages for about a million years. They continued to be made as late as the last glacial period, especially in the West European ‘Mousterian of Acheulian Tradition’. Generally hand axes are regarded as diagnostic of the Acheulian. The use to which hand axes were put is far from clear, although meat-cutting may have been one of their functions.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983