The Story of Things

Series One - Episode One: The Story of an Ancient Hand Axe

October 8, 2018

In episode one, Dr Penny Spikins and Dr Dorothea Debus, from the University of York, discuss an ancient hand axe, on loan to us from the Yorkshire Museum. It looks like it could be a weapon but in actual fact it is a tool used for cutting meat approximately 70,000 years ago. Aside from its practical application, it was made in a way that was also aesthetically pleasing. So why would this ancient community care about what a basic cutting tool looked like? One theory is that its pleasing aesthetic demonstrated skill, patience, and knowledge on the part of its maker. In this podcast episode the researchers discuss what this tells us about our human attachments to everyday objects and how it helps us interpret the world we live in today. A video of the hand axe is available on the York Festival of Ideas website.