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Visible Mending

Collected Item: “Acheulean Hand Axe”


Acheulean Hand Ax

Type of object

Archaeological artifact


Red ironstone


Historical Item




Lower Paleolithic


ca. one million years BP

Date of any modification

ca. 999,000 years BP

Region and/or country (additional to map location)

Kimberley, South Africa

Brief description/ overview

Million-year-old stone handax that was reknapped, or "mended," during its original use period


More detail about the item

Archaeologists excavated this stone tool at the Wonderwerk Cave site in South Africa. Close study reveals two distinct series of “cuts,” or flake removals. It was initially shaped by a series of large, shallow removals around its tapered end and later reworked through a series of deeper removals that were added to create a more dramatic point. This is an example of conservation from the distant past: the later removals were presumably made when the edge had become blunt, possibly by a different individual from the one who first shaped it, in order to preserve its function as a tool. (Label copy from Conserving Active Matter, Bard Graduate Center Gallery, My - July 2022). From Wonderwerk Cave, the oldest known cave occupation in the world that preserves an intact sequence of sediments that accumulated very gradually over a period stretching back almost two million years.

Source or owner

McGregor Museum, Kimberley, South Africa

Any collection to which this belongs
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