Question for Dopers in Europe, Asia & Australia

I grew up in Northwest Ohio and occasionally in the spring my friend and I would walk around the newly plowed fields looking for arrowheads. We found a few and I’ve always wondered if people found them in other countries too. Do people find stone tools in Europe, Asia or Australia?

Yep. My dad’s found a few flint hand-axes in his garden.

Stone tools are found in Australia but they aren’t terribly common. In part that’s because population densities were far lower in Australia and in part because of the nature of the tools. Aborigines lacked bows so of course there are no arrowheads. The spearheads found tend to be broken, hence the reason why they were discarded and are not easily recognisable to the untrained eye. I’ve had an archaeologist with me in the field pick up what looked to me like a flake of rock and only after he showed me exactly what the signs of working were was it apparent that it was a spearhead. Spearheads apparently also weren’t made in huge quantities in Australia. The technology was quite settled in recent times and very few damaged or poor quality copies were created and discarded so you don’t get the huge piles of ‘seconds’ seen in some parts of the world. Axes, mainly handaxes, are found far more commonly than spearheads but even so it’s not like the average person is likely to find one simply walking through the bush. Grindstones, which weren’t carried with but tended to be left at campsites, show up fairly commonly although most these days have been collected and are in someone’s house. I know at least 6 people who have grindstones, usually the smaller topstone.

I live near a uni so I occasionally see a bunch of stoned tools.

Badump tish.

I grew up on a river in central Queensland (Aus) and discovered quite a few spearheads on an ancient riverbank about 10 metres above the current high tide mark. In this case it was erosion that revealed the artefacts. Some of them were so intricate that they were tapered in the middle (presumably so that they would break off in the animal and make it less likely that the spearhead would fall out). Along with spearheads I found what appeared to be left and right handed scrapers. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any indiginous people to tell me the history behind the artefacts and requests to the museum for infomation were fruitless.

Not only do excavators find the occasional stone tool here in England; we have also discovered this:

In short, you are likely to be able to find stone axes and arrowheads anywhere that stone age peoples lived. They will be either paleolithic, mesolithic or neolithic. The oldest are paleolithic, the most recent neolithic. There is a paleolithic British hand axe in the British Museum that dates from c. 200000 B.C. Older examples are found in Africa. Neolithic continues on up to c. 10000 B.C. IIRC.

Newgrange older than Stonehenge and the Giza Pyramids.

Lots of little finds such as described in the OP on nearly every stone age dig I would guess.

There’s been constant medium- to high-density settlement here for the past 2000 years, so pretty much every time you dig down a few feet, something interesting will turn up.

If you scroll down about halfway here you’ll see some re-creations of old ‘pre-Japanese’ settlement from about 4,000 years ago. The name of the place “Shijimizuka” means “pile of shells,” which is exactly what they found there: the trash piles of a tribe that lived in the same spot for centuries and ate lots of shellfish. I used to live about five minutes from there, and you could still find shells everywhere even though you were twenty minutes from the ocean.

Dane checking in. Freshly plowed fields yield arrowheads and, if you’re lucky, axeheads, mostly made of flint.

Some are very clunky and primitive, some are highly polished and beautiful. Interestingly, some are far too large and clunky to have any practical use. Speculation is that they’re ceremonial, and they certainly indicate that our stone age ancestors weren’t necessarily living at the brink of existence at all times.

Organised fieldwalking is a staple of British archaeology, both by professionals and amateurs: an example, another, and another, and yet another.
Done properly, it’s a simple non-invasive technique that allows large areas to be surveyed quickly.

Thanks for all your replies everyone.

Here in NZ the stone age wasn’t actually that long ago. (I mean that in a literal sense and am not meaning to be degrading or patronising.) A hundred and seventy years ago stone tools were in everyday use. Maori were very fine craftsmen in stone, wood and bone. Many items existant today are more intricate ceremonial tools and weapons. They do look stunning. But for the most part they aren’t the sort of thing that you find just digging around. More often they are valuable items handed down.

The population patterns of pre-European Maori, the kinds of food they gathered and the ruggedness of the terrain means that you don’t just wander around a field or even a riverbank usually and find artefacts. But near some former settlements you can see interesting things if you know what you are looking for.

Maori archeological sites are usually middens – piles of discarded shellfish shells accumulated over the years. The other major food sources did not lend themselves to leaving relics. Bird snares were very cleverly constructed out of available biodegradable materials and few genuine examples remain. Likewise you just don’t come across fish hooks. There are some rivers however where you will come across sinker stones – regular round river stones with a chip taken out of each side so that they could be knotted easily. At Pa sites you will come across the remains of kumara (sweet potato) pits. But these are often not much to look at.

About the most exciting archeological finds that you are likely to come across… rephrase that… the most impressive, are in areas where stone tools were worked. It took labourous hours of rubbing a hard bit of rock against a boulder (usually in a stream) to shape it into an adze or club or something more ornamental. (I use that word guardedly because they were regarded as more than that.) The grooves can be seen in the boulders, or occasionally regions that were worn perfectly flat by rubbing.

I also know of one person who came across what looked to be an adze factory. Lots of worn rocks and a cache of unused but mostly completed adze heads.

But it is not the same as coming across an arowhead as you plough your field – mostly because the demography and geography were so very different.