December 2023

A handaxe, about 130,000 years old.

This handaxe is about 130,000 years old, dating from the so-called Eemian period. It was found in a gravel pit near Eynsham Station in 1924 and donated to Oxford University Museum shortly afterwards.

During the Eemian period, the land was rich with flora and fauna. Smaller animals that we would recognise today lived alongside some very large mammals, including now-extinct mammoths. Early humans, including Neanderthals, made handaxes by shaping a piece of stone, such as flint, into a sharp very tool, using stone, bone or antler. They then used them as cutting tools to prepare animals for eating.

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