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29 June 2010
Lecture tells axe's life story

It is not often that archaeologists are able to write the life story of an object, however that is exactly what Alison Sheridan was able to do in her festival lecture about an axe now on exhibit at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes (England).
     With great humour, Ms Sheridan, who is the Head of Early Prehistory at National Museums Scotland, explained how axes had special significance in the Neolithic period, around 6,000 years ago. Big and important men needed big axes to show off their wealth and power, she noted.
     This axe was special, as the polished green Jadeite stone came from a source 6,000 metres up in the Italian Alps. After it was quarried, the stone was transported to Brittany. The elongated shape shows that it was made for one of the rich and powerful people who carved images of axes in their megalithic tombs. The stone is harder than steel, and it is estimated that it would have taken over 1,000 hours of work to complete the axe.
     After completion, the axe was then brought across the Channel to be placed in what may have been a sacred spring, which was located at Breamore (in Hampshire) close to the River Avon on the way to Stonehenge. It is now one of the treasures of the museum. A similar axe discovered in Canterbury was recently featured in the British Museum's 'History of the World' series.

Source: Gazette & Herald (24 June 2010)

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