Hand axes discovered from gravel pits from 5,60,000 years ago

300 ancient, sharp-edged oval tools were discovered from gravel pits in Southeastern England and researchers had a theory that these hand axes were made 5,00,000 to 7,00,000 years ago. Upon the first systematic excavation of said site recently, the researchers’ suspicions were confirmed via a new study. The site is known as Fordwich.

With the help of recent studies and dating the tools, it points to the possibility that the area was inhabited by humanlike folk between about 5,60,000 and 6,20,000 years ago, according to a report in the June Royal Society Open Science. Other findings conclude that Fordwich is one of the oldest hominid sites in England. Although, pretty ironically, there has been no trace of hominid fossils being found at Fordwich, and thus, it is unclear as to which species of the human genus made the tools.

Archaeologist Alastair Key of the University of Cambridge and colleagues, unearthed 238 stone artifacts in 2020, along with stones of resharpened edges, presumably used to scrape objects like animal hides. These artifacts were dated to roughly 5,42,000 years ago, using a method for determining when sediment layers were last exposed to sunlight. It is theorized that the hand axes probably came from the same sediment.

The study finds that because ancient climate records indicate that an ice period at that time made it difficult to exist in northern Europe, early hominids must have created tools at Fordwich a little earlier than 542,000 years ago. Between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago, warmer weather would have made it possible for the hominid toolmakers to reside in such a northern location.

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