See more objects with the color black darkolivegreen grey rosybrown or see all the colors for this object.

Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.




  • You found it!

Hand Axe (Tanzania), 1.4 million years old

This is a Hand axe.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of Natural History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated 1.4 million years old. Its medium is volcanic rock (trachyte).

The classic handaxe is a teardrop-shaped stone tool knapped on both sides; for this reason, it is sometimes called a "biface." This example, made of trachyte, a type of volcanic rock obtained east of Olduvai Gorge, is around 1.4 million years old. This tool illustrates the period of technological innovation known as the Acheulean, which followed the Oldowan and would predominate between 1.76 million and 150,000 years ago in Africa, parts of Asia, and Europe. Handaxes probably served multiple functions, including cutting, chopping, and whittling wood; digging for tubers and roots; breaking open animal bones for marrow; and as the cores from which the sharp flakes were struck that were used to butcher the meat from animal carcasses. Earlier Oldowan technology included only small, minimally altered tools, whereas the larger handaxes made by Acheulean tool makers were sharpened all the way around, providing a more effective way of continually knapping sharp flakes while collecting food on the go.

It is credited Department of Archaeology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Control Number: 2065648, Loc. 77-IIV.

  • Clovis Point, ca. 11,000 BCE
  • chert from north central ohio.
  • Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.25
  • Fluted Point (USA), ca. 11,000 BCE
  • chert (from edwards chert formation located north of austin, texas).
  • Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian....
  • 15.2012.26

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

  • Pestle (USA), Before 1842
  • carved basalt.
  • Collected by the United States Exploring Expedition, 1840, Department of....
  • 15.2012.46

Its dimensions are

H x W: 17.8 x 10.2 x 6 cm (7 in. x 4 in. x 2 3/8 in.)

We have 1 video that features Hand Axe (Tanzania), 1.4 million years old.

Stone Tools Informational Video

Learn how to discriminate between ancient stone tools and regular rocks with Paleoanthropologist John Shea.

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Hand Axe (Tanzania), 1.4 million years old |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=11 April 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>