Axes, the Original Sharp Tools.


A Brief Overview of the Axe.

By Chowser, April 5th, 2017


The axe is one of history’s most pervasive tools, whether for agriculture, construction, or warfare, it has had a role in every civilization on the planet, likely in each of those capacities. It seems to be the obvious natural progression from using a rock to smash, to using a sharp rock to chop and cut. Indeed, technological advancement itself seems to hinge on the ability to cut things, and without that ability our progress would likely have been stifled. So today we pay homage to the axe, the original sharp tool.

Stone Hand Axes

The first axes used during human evolution only involved a sharpened rock with a rounded butt as a handle. Indeed, stone hand axes are considered by archeologists to be the tool with the longest period of use throughout human evolution. The oldest known examples of the hand axe are believed to be around 2.6 million years old. Today the steel headed chopping axe, which is still common place, is the very distant grandchild of those stone implements, however, there are a huge range of advancements and variations in-between.

Bearded Axes

The Viking bearded axe is probably one of the more famous types of axes, largely due to the growing popularity of Viking themed TV shows. The bearded axe was named for the extended lower hook of the blade called the “beard” of the axe. The beard could be used to pull the enemy’s shield out of place, or hook a leg for tripping. The bearded axe was used as an everyday tool, a close combat weapon, and as a throwing axe. It was a weapon that every Viking had to be skilled with because it was much cheaper to make than a sword, and more useful as a tool. Everyone would need an axe for something, and the majority of warriors would be able to afford one.

Double-Handed Axes

Many cultures favored larger battle axes like the Dane Axe, or the Parashu. With their long slender handles these axes were designed with battle in mind, and their usefulness as a tool was merely happenstance. Some of the larger axes were approaching the realm of the polearm, and were often employed to help deal with mounted units or heavily armored infantry. Many variations of large battle axes were popular throughout history, some with blades on both sides, some with spikes for stabbing, but most were very simple with only one blade.


In many ways, the axe was inferior to the sword as a close combat weapon, however, due to its versatility as a tool, and its relative low cost to make, it maintained a place of prominence in warfare for millennia. To this day, you will still find axes on the battlefield, although with the advent of the firearm, they have since been relegated to the realm of the tool, and their usefulness as a weapon is mainly happenstance.

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