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1.2-Million-Year-Old Obsidian Axe Factory Found In Ethiopia - IFLScience

1.2-Million-Year-Old Obsidian Axe Factory Found In Ethiopia - IFLScience

1.2-Million-Year-Old Obsidian Axe Factory Found In Ethiopia - IFLScience
Jan 24, 2023 1 min, 6 secs

Forged in magma and capable of producing the sharpest blades on Earth, obsidian is without a doubt one of the most badass materials ever imagined (there's a reason George RR Martin made it the weapon of choice to kill White Walkers).

Reporting on the latest findings from the Melka Kunture archaeological site in Ethiopia, a team of researchers has described the discovery of an obsidian handaxe workshop within a layer of sediment dated to 1.2 million years ago.

Describing the axes, the researchers repeatedly marvel that “the morphological standardization is remarkable,” and while they don’t know which species of human crafted the tools, they say that whoever created them diligently applied “secondary retouches” and was highly “focused on the final regularization of the artifacts.”

Achieving such homogeneity would have required highly sharpened skills and a fair amount of dexterity, as obsidian is a fragile rock that must be knapped with considerably more finesse than flint or basalt.

Techniques for shaping obsidian are believed to have first emerged during the Upper Paleolithic, and even modern knappers wear protective gloves to avoid shredding their hands when working with the razor-sharp material.

Hailing this remarkable achievement, the researchers say the old axe makers “creatively solved through convergent thinking technological problems such as effectively detaching and shaping large flakes of the unusually brittle and cutting volcanic glass.”

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