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date: 28 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter combines scientific approaches with an appreciation of the social and symbolic role of stone axes to investigate their enduring significance in Neolithic Europe. Axeheads were often moved over great distances, as for instance shown by the axe groups of Britain and Ireland, the actinolite-hornblende schists of the central European LBK, or the continent-wide distribution of Alpine jadeite axes. Quarries could be located in remote places. This, and the effort involved in pecking, flaking, and polishing these tools, meant they became invested with social and cosmological significance and could be deposited in special places or turned into amulets. In contrast, many other axes were made from local sources, used for tasks from building to warfare, and resharpened many times before discard. As socially active objects, axes were key materials for building varied biographies, linking distant people and places, providing connections to the past, and opening potentialities for the future.

Keywords: stone axe, biography, petrology, sourcing, cultural identity, production zones, chaîne opératoire, miniature axe, hoard, Neolithic Europe

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