Durability Test

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Tool making has come a long way since the early humans thousands of years ago relied on stone axes and weapons for their survival.

Still, Japanese archaeologists wanted to know just how useful these ancient tools were and used precise replicas of these archaic instruments to determine their utility and reliability for our prehistoric ancestors, Cosmos magazine reported.

For their study, a research team created 75 hand-held stone axes and adzes using a stone hammer, anvil and grindstones. They made sure to use minerals found at the time such as semi-nephrite, hornfels and tuff, as well as bound them with strips of wood and fibrous grass.

All the replicas were made with an average length of 3.82 inches, width of 2.24 inches, and thickness of 0.8 inches.

The researchers then tested the tools in 15 activities to study macro fractures and microwear.

They used 53 replicas for 10 activities such as tree-felling, wood-axing, antler-adzing and bone scraping.

Out of these, 26 of them were used until they broke or became dull, while the other 27 were stopped and examined after 500, 1,000, 3,000, and 5,000 strokes.

The team also studied wear and tear from five non-use activities, such as accidental fractures during production or re-sharpening.

Their findings identified nine types of macroscopic fractures resulting from various tool uses, as well as different microscopic features associated with specific materials being worked on.

The study is an example of practical archaeology – where researchers learn about the past by recreating the present.

The authors added that their analysis can help future archaeologists to identify authentic stone artifacts, as well as determine the time when timber use began for early humans.

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