Some of the largest early prehistoric stone tools ever found in Britain have been discovered by researchers at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.
Prehistoric artifacts were discovered in deep Ice Age sediments preserved on a hillside above the Medway Valley during the Kent excavations, which were ordered in advance of the development of the Maritime Academy School in Frindsbury.
In their study, which was published in Internet Archaeology, the researchers from UCL Archaeology South-East discovered 800 stone artifacts buried in sediments that filled a sinkhole and an ancient river channel. These artifacts are thought to be more than 300,000 years old.
Two extremely large flint knives, described as “giant handaxes,” were among the artifacts found. Stone tools known as handaxes are symmetrical objects that have been chipped, or “knapped,” on both sides to produce a long cutting edge. Analysts accept this kind of hardware was generally held in the hand and may have been utilized for butchering creatures and cutting meat. The two largest handaxes discovered at the Maritime site have a distinctive shape, with a much thicker base and a long, finely worked pointed tip.
Senior Prehistorian Letty Ingrey (UCL Foundation of Paleontology), said: ” We depict these devices as ‘monsters’ when they are over 22cm long and we have two in this size range. One of the longest ever discovered in Britain is the largest, which measures a staggering 29.5 cm. These enormous handaxes, which date back more than 300,000 years, are typically found in the Thames and Medway regions.
“It is difficult to imagine how these handaxes could have been held and used easily because they are so large.” Maybe they satisfied a less commonsense or more emblematic capability than different devices, an unmistakable exhibition of solidarity and expertise. This site gives us a chance to find out the answers to these exciting questions, even though we don’t yet know why such large tools were made or which species of early humans were the ones who made them.
The Neanderthal people and their cultures are thought to have first emerged during the early prehistory of Britain, and the site may even have shared the landscape with other early humans. At this time, the Medway Valley would have been a wild area with wooded hills and river valleys. Red deer, horses, and less well-known mammals like the straight-tusked elephant and lion would have lived there.