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Polished stone axe set into an antler sleeve.

Chalain 4, 31st century BCE.

Large-headed axe handle.

Chalain 4, 31st century BCE.

Felling a goat willow.

Making a notch to fell an ash tree.

For the experiment, reproductions of sleeve axes were used to cut down trees. These tools are fragile and must be used with care to avoid chipping the blade or splitting the antler sleeve. Axes were valuable tools, because the blades were imported from at least as far away as western Switzerland and a good axe handle needed a extended period of scraping and drying.

On average, thirty minutes to an hour are needed to fell a willow whose trunk is 20 cm in diameter, and between an hour and an hour and a half to cut down an ash tree with the same dimensions. However, to our knowledge, no scientist has yet tried to use a polished stone axe to cut down an oak with a 35 to 40 cm trunk, which was done at Chalain about the 31st century BCE.

Source of polished stone axes.