back to article Australia claims it invented cutting-edge tech before rest of world

Australia has laid claim to being the country that first invented a quite literally game-changing piece of cutting-edge technology - to wit, the stone axe with edge ground for greater sharpness. "This new evidence for the earliest securely dated ground-edge implement in the world indicates that Australia was an important …


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  1. Code Monkey

    They can rack off

    The "axe" found was one of dozens normally found hanging from prehistoric hats.

  2. LesC

    One by Four by Nine

    Have they found The Black Slab yet?

    Mines is the one with "The Sentinel" in the pocket.

  3. Ian K

    "quite literally game-changing"

    "Quite literally"? So exactly which games were the ancient Ozzies playing that the ground-edge axes made a change for?

    To be fair I can see bringing axes into play making quite a difference to most games (football, tag, dodgeball...) but there are a few where they'd have little <ahem> impact (hide and seek, hop scotch, Monopoly...) and perhaps those are the ones that were all the rage back then.

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      How about...

      "Rock, scissors, paper".

      Then known as - "Rock*, rock**, rock***".

      * Plain rock, ** Rock with a nice sharp edge, *** Rock ready for the application of ochre and similar pigments.

    2. GrahamT

      Game changing

      Maybe the game was wallabies, Kangeroos, possums, etc.

      A sharp edge judiciously applied could change them from animals to joints of meat - literally!

  4. hugo tyson

    Lost interest?

    ...because it was no help in making beer?

    1. Michael Smith

      Young Einstein

      Yeah, cracking beer atoms

  5. MinionZero

    35000 years old?

    As theses axes are 35000 years old, I would guess old battle axe mother in law jokes date from a similar time period. ;)

  6. Sir Smokesalot

    Subtle test....

    have they tested for dust......

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Can't be true

    If they ever did invent it, their stone-age society would have banned this technological advancement within five years of it being invented or at the very least mandate that it be wrapped up in animal skin so it's completely blunt and useless.

    1. Charles Manning

      Aah but...

      The animal skin should have a warning: "Asphyxiation hazard: Keep animal skins away from small children."

      I recently bought a knife wrapped in a plastic bag inside a box. There was a warning that the bag should be kept away from children because it is a hazard. No mention of keeping the knife away from the nipper.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    IT Angle

    "They" would be the ancestors of abos

    Thus nothing to do with the "they" Australians.

    The question is, was that invention "hard to export" or not back then?

    Was it invented all over the world in a couple of thousand years timespan?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    In Another Archeological Discovery was found that Australia had the most ancient Porn Filter - 154000 years old. All aboriginal porn scenes were painted over by the Aboriginal Porn Filter General.

    Another one of his duties was to Ban Indecent Swimsuits made from Swine leather. Only Cattle swimsuits were permitted by the Zealot/Aussie Kid Protector.

    Flame from the Dreamland.

  10. Eat Pineapple

    See you in court... the CSIRO expects to lodge their patent claim any day now.

  11. . 3


    Doesn't address how the aborigines' ancestors managed to migrate from Africa some 50K years ago without significantly populating places along the way. If they were building ocean-traversing craft and navigating the doldrums then presumably ground edge knives would have been child's play.

  12. asdf Silver badge

    white Aussies cant claim crap

    Based on how most white Aussies seem to treat people off all races including the natives they pretty much have no right to brag about this accomplishment. Granted many other of blightys colonies have checkered histories regarding other cultures and treatment of the natives but no where else is as openly racist in the 21st century about it.

    1. Code Monkey

      It's fun to read

      They got there by following a coastal route from the Arabian peninsula, via India and South East Asia. Sea levels were much lower tens of thousands of years ago, meaning Oz wasn't so isolated as now (it was joined to New Guinea for one thing. Rising sea levels have also obliterated the archeological record of early modern humans lving on Aisan beaches (in many places those beaches are now 100km out to sea). Genetic studies are quite clear on how Aboriginies are related to the rest of humanity.

      Try reading about it. These are all good.

      Out of Eden by Stephen Oppenheimer

      Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells

      The Incredible Human Journey by (TV's) Alice Roberts

  13. Mark C 2

    More like.. is the oldest one far. Not quite proof it was actually invented in Australia.

    Mine's the one with 'cynic' on the coat.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Only LP can put that in an article.... and get away with it.... almost.

  15. Hollerith 1

    Just like calculus?

    Was edge-grinding invented in Oz and percolated back to the main land-mass of Asia, or was it an independent discovery in other places? We won't know until we find enough other sites inhabited c. 35K years ago to offer enough of a comparison. It could be that humanity was 'ready' for this leap forward, and so it will be found developing from the zeitgeist in a number of places, as did calculus, from where that could have been no shared communication back then (e.g. northern France and Oz, or Argentina and Oz) -- or, and a lot more interesting, it will be determined that Oz did indeed make the Great Leap Forward and this innovation entered Asia through northerly sea connections.

    Ironic if the First Peoples of Australia were conquered by technology originating from them.

  16. JaitcH

    The Aboriginals may be, but not Australia

    Since Australia wasn't around then he means the Aboriginal tribes.

    Chances are they were brought in from China by their wandering explorers. And the truly unique item of technology from the other side was the Aboriginal boomerang.

    Next they'll be claiming they invented wind instruments starting with the Didgeridoo.

    But they did invent Vegemite!

  17. Bill Neal

    35,000 years ago?

    I'm quite certain there was a much richer history being created all over the british isles & northern france at this time. Were not people in this area pushing huge rocks around to create monuments which can still be found today? That is much more awe inspiring than an axe if you ask me.

  18. Bill Cumming

    Wasn't this...

    a "Yahoo Serious" movie plotline??

  19. Stevie Silver badge


    So, the rest of the Stone-Age tool-making world was caught knapping by the pesky Antipodeans?


  20. yeehaw.... Silver badge


    ....quite possibly the first and last thing they invented... it was such a technological leap by Steve Rocks that it stifled innovation until the Brits showed up.

    And look what happened then. A whole civilization destroyed by a really really sharp rock salesman.

    So when the time comes and you want post to Facebitch on your iPad or reach for your iPhone to report about the aliens landing.... remember the Abos and their iChopper.

    Mine's the coat.... oh bloody hell! -> just runs for door....

  21. Mike Norrish NZ

    Depends on water levels...

    Hooray for a serious answer that isn't about beer or the great firewall ;)

    If paleontologists are correct, and early humans arrived in Australia via land bridges from Indonesia ~70,000 years ago before water levels sank back to near-current levels, then that would indicate independant development of this technology elsewhere in the world... The original settlers would have been stranded in Australia long before this came about :)

  22. raving angry loony


    From the looks of their government, that's about where their politicians stopped on the technological development front.

  23. ceebee

    axes to grind...

    hehehe... oh these days if you invented the axe you would want to patent it, trademark it, sue anyone making any cutting device and demand royalties.

    of course the CSIRO should pursue its patents in the course ..why not... why should they be any different to any other inventor.

    just because Oz is a long way away from silicon valley or the EU doesn't mean you can steal commercial ideas and treat us poor Aussies like yokels.

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    From the first sharpened stone axe to the great Aussie Firewall in 35 000

    What remarkable progress.

    1. Noons

      Re: 35,000 years ago?

      You may be quite certain, but you're still wrong. 35,000 years is a long time ago, for humans anyway. My guess is you're either talking about Stonehenge and the likes of it, or you know something nobody else does. Well, Stonehenge is barely 5,000 years old...

      1. Bill Neal


        I'm referring to the "grooved ware people" who made newgrange and many other megalithic sites as well. If you believe all these stone things were created 5000 years ago, you probably think the earth was created in a week.

  25. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    At least it worked

    Thank goodness they stopped using it or the place would be nothing but a big desert by now.

  26. Rogan Paneer

    Another fund-seeking beat-up

    This item says more about the pitiful state of aboriginal archaeology in Australia and the agendas of several participants than about the actual find.

    Amongst archaeologists and prehistorians, the fundamental, unstated competition is to find the earliest example of something. To date, Australian archaeologists working in the aboriginal/Pacific island field have suffered from a massive chip on their collective shoulder because the archaeologists working in the 'Old World' of the Near East seemed to have all the earliest cool stuff- stone tool technology, pottery, agriculture, complex social systems and cities etc. So the local lads jump at any chance to claim a first, hence this claim about the earliest groundstone blade, and also the unfounded but vocal speculation by some Oz astronomers that the aboriginals were the 'world's first astronomers' (we can talk about that gem another time). The Jarwoyn people also have an interest in claiming such a first. One-upmanship exists among aboriginal groups too.

    Grinding stone is not as important in itself, as it is for signaling use of the technological process and the potential for social development- if people are grinding stone, ochre etc, then grinding grain etc is within reach, so we have a prerequisite for agriculture. Problem is, there's no evidence that the local indigenes took this grinding any further. They remained hunter-gatherers, grinding wild grains when they were available, as hunter gatherers the world over tend to do. In any case, flaked stone tool technology, because it produces really sharp edges, is more significant for social development- think of grain harvesting sickles, for a start. Also consider the time factor- how long would it take to hand-grind a blade compared to making a blade by flaking? And how long will the blade last?

    So, it's interesting, but not a world-shaker. Nevertheless, the publicity will be timely and useful when writing up the funding application to the Australian Research Council.

  27. Mark 65


    "This new evidence for the earliest securely dated ground-edge implement in the world indicates that Australia was an important locale of technological innovation 35,000 years ago,"

    and that's when the innovation hit a brick wall. From ground-edged implements to 6 litre Utes in just 35,000 years God bless'em. Although I'm not entirely sure the Ute drivers in question are as advanced as the peoples using the aforementioned implements - their knuckles definitely hang lower.

  28. Adrian Esdaile

    And... nothing since.

    The stone axe is the highlight of Australian technology.

    We haven't invented anything of value since; indeed our Glorious Leaders are still using the original stone axe to draft legislation about the Internet.

    Oh, and don't mention 'Black Slabs' down 'ere, it will get you arrested for racism.

  29. Aussie Brusader

    I can see it now...

    An Aboriginal looking at the list on the wall of stuff to be made and being unable to find his axe.

    It all went down hill from there.

  30. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Such a shame their government seem to be determined to send them screaming back to these early days, by cutting off any learned discourse that their out of control citizens might try to engage in on the internet!

  31. Andy 70
    Thumb Up


    i approve of this and have noted it down for use in future conversation.

  32. Waffles666


    And then the aborigines developed a pointy stick, a hollow stick and a bent stick for throwing, did nothing for x many 10's of thousands of years before the English arrived.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      That should be "did nothing for x many 10's of thousands of years before the English arrived to deposit over 150,000 convicts."

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Carbon dating is bunk! He levels disprove the theory!

    Carbon dating is baloney! The earth is not millions of years old but thousands. Recent science draws in to question the use of carbon dating.

  34. MrT
    Thumb Up

    Stone axe then used....

    ... to sharpen the pole for history's first rotary clothes line - it took until 1946 before some colonial fella rediscovered it.

  35. bugalugs
    Paris Hilton

    Dr Bruno David, Down Under archaeologist, ( University of Woolloomoolloo ? )

    I thought it was going to be Dr *Bruce* something at first and now I can't get that Python sketch out of my head ( A-men, crack a tube ! ).

    Reckon the 34CBC Paris's would have really gone for a bloke with one of them axes " OMG, OCHRE, <3 ! "

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