Made around 420,000 years ago and unearthed in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, this yew spear point is the oldest preserved wooden spear in the world.

Scientists believe that its owner, perhaps a member of the species Homo heidelbergensis, would have used this as a lethal weapon. They would have needed to spear their prey at close range in order to generate enough force to pierce the animal's skin. Modifications to the spear, thought to have been made by flint tools, were used to shape the weapon.

Similar spears, made mainly from spruce, have been found in Schöningen, Germany, among the remains of horses dating from around 300,000 years ago.

Find out more about human evolution, including the emergence of tool use >
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  • Title: Clacton spear
  • Date: 1911
  • Location: Clacton-on-Sea, UK
  • Subject Keywords: Human Origins
  • Collector: Samuel Hazzledine Warren
  • Age: 420,000 years

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