Site Identiﬁcation ABORIGINAL Mini Poster 8 GROUND-EDGE AXES Characteristics • Ground-edge axes come in different shapes, but they are usually either round or oval. They are sometimes rounded and narrow at one end, and slightly broader and straighter at the cutting edge. • Most are 50–200 millimetres long, 40–100 millimetres wide and 20–60 millimetres thick. • Typically they are ‘lens shaped’ when viewed from the side. • They were made from hard types of stone, particularly basalt or greenstone, and worn river pebbles. • They may have one or Greenstone Axe blank (left) and Ground-edge Axe (right) more ground cutting edges, and they may be polished smooth all over. What are Aboriginal How Did Aboriginal People The ground surfaces are Ground-edge Axes? Make Ground-edge Axes? usually highly polished. Ground-edge axes are stone Aboriginal people made ‘axe blanks’ • They may have a groove chopping tools with cutting edges by striking large ﬂakes of stone from pecked around their ‘waist’ that were formed by grinding. rocky outcrops (see Mini Poster 7), so it is easier to attach They were often designed to have then roughly shaping them. They a handle. a handle. carried axe blanks across great distances for trading. • Complete axes are rare. Aboriginal ground-edge axes are It is more common to ﬁnd usually rounded or oval in shape, The axes were often ﬁnished away smaller, broken, polished but may be slightly elongated with a from the quarry. The tool maker fragments. straighter, sharpened end. would complete an axe by grinding to make a sharp cutting edge. Where are They Found? This edge, while not as sharp as Ground-edge axes can be found a chipped stone tool, was much almost anywhere where Aboriginal more durable. When the edge was people camped or lived in Victoria. broken or chipped, the axe could be They may be found near axe-grinding sharpened again and again. grooves, axe quarries or burial sites. Grinding was usually done on sandstone outcrops, often leaving deep grooves. Sometimes the whole axe was ground to a smooth glossy ﬁnish. Ground-edge Axes with wooden hafts Aboriginal people often used natural Why are Ground-edge Are Aboriginal Ground-edge resin and plant ﬁbre or kangaroo Axes Important? Axes Protected? sinew to attach the axe to a short Aboriginal ground-stone axes are an The law protects all Aboriginal wooden handle. important link for Aboriginal people cultural places and artefacts in today with their culture and their Victoria. It is illegal to disturb How Did Aboriginal People past. We know of the custodians or destroy an Aboriginal place. Use Ground-edge Axes? of some quarries where stone axes Ground-edge axes and other Aboriginal people used axes to were made, and their descendants artefacts should not be removed cut down small trees, chop wood, are still alive today. from sites. remove tree bark for canoes and shelters, butcher larger animals The axes are a valuable source of It is also illegal to buy or sell artefacts and undertake many other tasks. information about the past way of life without a permit. Information about They also used axes as weapons, of Aboriginal people. permits may be obtained from ceremonial objects and valuable Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. Are Aboriginal Ground-edge trade items. Axes under Threat? What to Do If You Find a Many axes come from a large Ground-edge axes are strong and Ground-edge Axe? greenstone quarry at Mount William, durable. Unfortunately, because they Do not disturb or remove it. near Lanceﬁeld. Axes from this are obviously Aboriginal artefacts, Check whether the object has quarry have been found up to 800 many have been taken by artefact the typical characteristics of an kilometres from Mount William, but collectors and the general public. Aboriginal ground-edge axe. If it not in the eastern half of Victoria. We know little about these collected does, record its location and write The Gunai/Kurnai people in the axes: information about their age, a brief description of its condition. east had their own quarries and original location and links with other Note whether it is under threat of system of trade. Studies of the artefacts has been lost forever. disturbance. distribution of Mount William axes have demonstrated that this trade Natural processes such as wind Please help to preserve boundary existed for a long time, and water erosion may disturb axes, Aboriginal cultural sites by possibly several thousand years. but human interference such as reporting their presence to ploughing and development (and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. What Natural Rocks Look particularly souvenir collecting) poses Contact: Similar to Ground-edge Axes? the greatest threat to these artefacts. The Heritage Registrar Ground-edge axes are easy to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria records the Aboriginal Affairs Victoria distinguish from natural rocks. location, dimensions and condition PO Box 2392 Smooth, hard, river pebbles may of Aboriginal ground-edge axes. The Melbourne VIC 3001 look like the axes, but they do not aim is to have a permanent written have the sharp edges. and photographic record of this Telephone: 1800 762 003 important part of the heritage of Website: www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/aav all Australians. June 2008 Copyright State Government of Victoria 2008. Authorised by the Victoria Government, Melbourne ISBN 978-1-921331-59-6 This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without ﬂaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.