Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Homo sapiens neanderthalensis was a prehistoric man with a large brain capacity and a stocky body that allowed survival in cold climates at the edge of the ice sheets during the last Ice Age. I have just rediscovered my skull replicas and Neanderthal tool kits during a recent sort out in my shed. (OK! for the purist the picture is of a rhodesiensis skull.)

Some years ago I made a set of Mousterian hand axes. Mousterian technology is the tool culture of Neanderthal Man. I had forgotten how cleverly constructed these tools were. Neanderthals made composite tools, like spears with stone points and hand axes with mastic pads on the butt end.
These two hand axes are an example of that technology. The one on the left is what you would expect to find in a museum. The one on the right is what a Neanderthal would have used. The mastic is made from a warm mixture of fine silt and tree resin and set in cold water.
Neanderthals were big game hunters and they would work in teams to spear large animals. The hand axe was a killing weapon to administer the fatal blow.
These hand axes need a powerful technique with a soft hammer (bar of bone or antler) and this leaves the tool sharp all of the way around. It is essential to pad the butt to prevent cutting your hand during use. Neanderthal axes show adhesions of such mastic around the butt, which breaks down over time, leaving just a slight trace. I love prehistoric stuff!

1 comment:

Hoka-shay-honaqut said...

Very interesting blog. love the wildlife pics and palaeo-postings.