The hand-axe is regarded as the prehistoric equivalent of the Swiss Army knife. This tool had a great many uses: cutting branches, felling small trees, quartering and skinning animals, working skins, and so on. A hand-axe lasted a long time, for it was possible to sharpen the tool time and again. The hand-axes found are usually smallish, completely worn-down specimens. One seldom comes across a nearly intact specimen.
When the first hand-axes were found, the basis was knocked out from under the biblical story of the Creation, going back six thousand years.When, in 1797, the Englishman John Frère was one of the first to discover flint tools – near Hoxne in Suffolk – accompanied by the remains of extinct animals, a tentative realization dawned that our past was very much older. The definitive breakthrough came with the work of Charles Darwin.
In the Netherlands hand-axes are rarely found. In the Saale Glacial Stage (c. 150,000 years ago) large parts of the Netherlands were covered by deposits, pushed along by glacier masses, causing the former to overlap in layers, like roofing tiles. A lot of prehistoric material was buried underneath.While quarrying for sand and gravel, for instance in the vicinity of the town of Rhenen, old strata were uncovered. In these strata objects have been found, like this handaxe, dating back 150,000 years and more.