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A DISCUSSION OF HANDAXES FROM BOSE

XIE Guang-mao(Museum of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nanning 530022)  
On the high terraces of the Youjiang River in Bose Basin, northwestern Guangxi of South China, about 4000 stone artifacts have been collected since the first discovery in 1973. Based on the studies of geological contexts from which the stone artifacts were unearthed, and the tektites associated with the stone artifacts in the primary deposits, the stone artifacts were dated to about 0.80 million years ago. Raw materials of the stone artifacts from Bose are mostly quartzite, sandstone and quartz cobbles. Tool types are mainly chopper, pick, handaxe and scraper. Among them, the picks and handaxes are very characteristic. However, there are some debates on the classification of handaxes from Bose. Some archaeologists consider them as handaxes, some classify them as core-axes, picks, and even chopping-tools. According to the definition of handaxe by J. Desmond Clark, Bhattacharya et al, the author of this papper believes that the Bose handaxes are true handaxes, although they are characterized by simple modification, deep flake scars, relatively large thickness in cross-section, the lack of soft hammer retouch and thinning technique. Such characteristics are mainly due to the raw materials (mostly quartzite), which are coarse-grained and rich in structural planes. Besides, some cobbles had been weathered before utilization. In fact, Bose handaxes are very similar to those from Indian Peninsula and Africa which were made on the same materials. In the papper, the author also discusses the criteria for the classification of handaxes. It is suggested that a stone tool should be classified as a handaxe if it meets the criteria as follows: 1) It is a heavy-duty tool with bifacial flaking. 2) It usually has a wide and thick butt end and a thin and pointed working end, and was usually trimmed at the whole periphery except the butt sometimes. 3) It is diverse in plan view, but is usually oval, pear-like, leave-like, or triangular. It can be biconvex, plano-convex, or triangular in cross-section.
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