Archaeologists in southern Denmark have unearthed a 5,500-year-old axe with the handle still attached. The axe was deliberately jammed into what used to be the seabed during the Stone Age.
The finding was made during an archaeological survey for the construction of the Femern Belt link, an immersed tunnel that will connect the German island of Fehmarn with the Danish island of Lolland. Earlier this month, the same dig yielded 5,000-year-old footprints.
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"Axes are among the typical finds from the Stone Age, but in hafted form (attached to a handle), they are extremely rare," Anne-Lotte Sjørup Mathiesen of the Museum Lolland-Falster, said in a statement.
The axe was found stuck 12 inches down into the seabed, along with other artifacts which include a paddle, two bows and some 14 axe shafts.
As a result of the particular conditions of the silted seabed, all items were extremely well preserved.
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Intriguingly, the artifacts were purposely placed standing up vertically into the earth, suggesting they were part of a ritual deposit.
"The items clearly show that the population used the coast as an offering area," Sjørup Mathiesen said.
Excavation at the site is ongoing. Archaeologists from Museum Lolland-Falster expect to find more artifacts and new clues about what kinds of Stone Age rituals took place in the area.
Image: The shafted axe was found standing up vertically into the earth. Credit: Museum Lolland-Falster.