The Point Square and the Acheulean Hand Ax


Variations of a knife pattern we are calling The Point has the oldest heritage of almost any cutting tool. Primitive forms of the Acheulian hand ax have been found among the remains of modern man’s distant ancestors that date from 1.7 million years ago in Olduvai Gorge in East Africa and are still in use among primitive cultures today. This makes this type of cutting instrument man’s oldest complexly worked cutting tool.

For a tool to persist this long, one would think that it must have had some utility, and indeed it has. My modern version is gripped the same way, in the palm of the hand and the cutting point is guided by the index finger of the master hand to make precision cuts in food and other products. The Point Square is distinguished in that it has a square hole through which the fingers fit and also has a cutting edge as well as a pencil-sharp point.

Because others of Hovey’s Knives of China™ knives have truncated points , The Point series of knives is made to provide a separate point for use for delicate cutting used. The fact that it also has a short blade means that it can also be used for cutting and dicing small objects, or larger purposes like skinning game where delicate control is required. Its flat shape and compact size make it ideal for use as a knife for skinning animal heads in place of bulkier knives.

An introductory video showing the use of this knife to make a pasta dish with shoe-string cut meats, wholewheat pasta and horseradish sauce may be seen at: The top photo is from that video which also shows an original Acheulean hand ax from France. This example was made some 10,000 years ago and was associated with the famous cave paintings that illustrated man and extinct Pleistocene animals, such as the mammoth.

Other variants of this shape will be offered in two sizes. The one that is demonstrated is a small size, and others for working fish and sushi will have a handle and more than one cutting blade.

If you are interested in finding out about man’s early use of this tool, the best popular reference is Making Silent Stones Speak: Human evolution and the dawn of Technology by Kathy D. Schick and Nicholas Toth that was published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. I published my own take on stone knives, which included processing game and working on a bison hide, in an article titled Chips off and Old Rock in the Krause annual Knives 2010, edited by Joe Kertzman.


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