Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

5000 year old axe

This resource is part of the Museum Snapshot collection - a collection of smaller resources perfect for starters, plenaries or spare moments to explore something fascinating.


Curriculum Links:

KS1 & 2 History: Neolithic, Chronological Understanding

KS1 & 2 Science: Materials

This axe was crafted by someone living over 5000 years ago, during the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, in what is now Switzerland. Part of the antler sleeve, which was used to haft, or set, the stone axe head to the wooden handle still survives. It is incredibly rare for organic material such as antler to survive thousands of years. The sleeve for this axe did not decompose because the axe was buried in a bog where the water saturated soil contained no oxygen. No oxygen means no bacteria that would usually decompose organic materials like antler and wood.

This axe would have taken a very long time to make, and requires different skills for the axe head and the handle. It would have been a very important and valuable tool.


Prehistoric Hafted Axe Head by Leeds Museums And Galleries on Sketchfab


Discussion Ideas

  • What do the materials that have been used to make this axe tell you:
    • About the person who made it?
    • About the type of environment they were living in?
    • About the skills the person who made it had developed?
  • Why do you think someone would spend hours polishing an axe to make it shiny?
  • Why do you think stone axe heads survive for thousands of years, but wooden handles and antler sleeves rarely do?


Activity Ideas

  • Download the Object Timeline for a small group chronology activity and a classroom display.