An improbable new set of tools combines two state-of-the-art technologies that were created 1.8 million years apart: Prehistoric hand axes and 3-D printing.
The project first started a few years ago, when Israeli designer Dov Ganchrow attended a "low-tech design seminar" where an archaeologist taught the art of knapping, or turning flint into pointed tools.
"I fell in love with hitting one stone with another," Ganchrow says. He and his design studio partner, the late Ami Drach, started experimenting by combining the ancient techniques they had learned with custom-made 3-D printed handles. In part, it was a way to visualize the many different ways the original axes might have been used.
In the new Man Made series, some of the 3-D printed attachments show how the tools might have been held. A "clip-on holster" shows how someone might have carried an axe on a walk to protect from predators. Others have longer handles, turning the small stone into a spear or axe for chopping wood.
A little tripod turns a tool into a display, based on evidence that cavemen made extra-large axes to help woo the ladies—"a means of boasting your stone tool-making abilities and perhaps getting lucky," Ganchrow says.
Each of these uses is somewhat hypothetical, since researchers don't know exactly what prehistoric humans did with tools. "The works are really meant to generate debate," Ganchrow explains. "They are a mapping of thoughts and theories within the archaeological and greater evolutionary sciences fields with regards to the hand axe."
The project combined two of Ganchrow's obsessions. "It's probably a mix of being a product designer who just can't leave things alone with a fascination from a very early age with archaeology," he says. "Being a designer means I'm dealing with material culture, and creating artifacts for future archaeologists reflecting who we are today."