Four giant stone-age axes found in African lake basin

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Washington, September 13 (ANI): A team of archaeologists has found four giant stone hand axes from the dry basin of Lake Makgadikgadi in the Kalahari Desert in Africa, dating back to the Stone Age, which suggests that the region was once much drier and wetter than it is today.

The discovery of the axes is part of the finding of thousands of stone tools on the lake bed, which sheds new light on how humans in Africa adapted to several substantial climate change events during the period that coincided with the last Ice Age in Europe.

Researchers from the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford are surveying the now-dry basin of Lake Makgadikgadi.

Their research was prompted by the discovery of the first of what are believed to be the world's largest stone tools on the bed of the lake.

Although the first find was made in the 1990s, the discovery of four giant axes has not been scientifically reported until now.

Four giant stone hand axes, measuring over 30 cm long and of uncertain age, were recovered from the lake basin.

Equally remarkable is that the dry lake floor where they were found is also littered with tens of thousands of other smaller stone-age tools and flakes, according to the researchers.

According to Professor David Thomas, Head of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, "Many of the tools were found on the dry lake floor, not around its edge, which challenges the view that big lakes were only attractive to humans when they were full of water."

"As water levels in the lake went down, or during times when they fluctuated seasonally, wild animals would have congregated round the resulting watering holes on the lake bed," he said.

"It's likely that early human populations would have seen this area as a prolific hunting ground when food resources in the region were more concentrated than at times when the regional climate was wetter and food was more plentiful and the lake was full of water," he added.

The research team has investigated islands on the floor of the lake - remnants of former sand dunes - which suggest the region's climate has also been both windier and markedly drier than it is today.

"The interior of southern Africa has usually been seen as being devoid of significant archaeology. Surprisingly, we have found and logged incredibly extensive Middle Stone Age artefacts spread over a vast area of the lake basin," Professor Thomas said. (ANI)

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