Handaxes from Denmark: Neandertal tools or 'vicious flints'?


  • L. Johansen
  • D. Stapert


Four handaxe-like tools from Denmark (Fænø, Villestrup, Karskov Klint, Skellerup) and their surfacemodifications are described. In the authors' opinion, only one of these tools probably dates from the Middle Palaeolithic: the Fænø handaxe. The other implements are thought to be preforms of bifacial tools dating from the Neolithic or the Early Bronze Age.

One blade was found in a sand quarry near Seest, Jutland. It must derive from gravelly water-laid deposits, presumably meltwater deposits, because it is slightly rounded. Therefore it most probably dates from the Middle Palaeolithic.

Several other sites in Denmark have produced flint material ascribed to the Early or Middle Palaeolithic, e.g. Vejstrup Skov and Ejby Klint. We believe that these do not necessarily date from the Palaeolithic. At these and similar localities we may in fact be dealing with atelier-sites dating from much later periods: Mesolithic, Neolithic, or Early Bronze Age.

It is argued that for dating any 'primitive-looking' flint artefacts to the Palaeolithic, when found outside astratigraphic context, features independent of typology should be used. Surface modifications on the flints, if studied in relation to the geological context, may provide such independent arguments.