The point of this blog post is to further elaborate on the most likely already distinct connection between hand-axes and education, that is described in Donald Clarks article. Clarks post made me remember a time in my grandparents house not too long ago when my Grandpa and I were talking about a what he believed was some sort of ancient tool that he found walking around his property in the foothills of Boulder. As my Grandpa often does, he started asking me about what i thought the tool was, but of course he already had an answer in his head, so really he was just waiting for me to guess what the tool actually was. The piece was about the size of my palm, weighed about two pounds, it was shaped like a Dillinger pistol, and looked like it was carved out of some kind of red flagstone rock. Obviously, my mid jumped to the conclusion that it had to be some type of weapon. It was a knife used by an Arapahoe indan chief to fight a saber toothed tiger, or it was a type of arrowhead that little boys used when they started shooting bows. Somehow, i knew that the tool had to have been used to kill people, and somehow i was absolutely incorrect. My Grandpa decided that it was indeed a tool used by the Arapahoe Indians that once lived in the area, but it was actually a simple tool that was used to poke holes in leather so that pieces of it could be tied together. Not quite the stone death tool that i imagined it was. When i remember sitting around the kitchen table talking with my Grandpa about this tool, the most vivid memory i have isn’t of holding the tool, or of him telling me wehre it came from, or imagining it as a weapon, but rather the look in my Grandpas eyes when he held it. My Grandpa is a man who often smiles, and laughs, and jokes, but when he held the leather jabber in his hands there was a different sort of brightness to his face that i don’t think i’d ever seen before.
I believe that my Grandpa saw and felt something in tis tool that i’m still to young to understand. I think that what he felt came from a lifetime of pursuing education, and a lifetime of pursuing confusing and dense subjects to get through a career as a student and as a professor. I think that what my Grandpa felt in that tool was the simplicity of education. When he held that red flagstone, it was a simple physical representation of what education means, and thats what made him so excited. There’s just something special about holding such a simple tool in your hand that was made for a simple purpose, and was used effectively for that purpose for years and years. The knowledge of how to create a tool like that was most likely passed down from family to family for hundreds of years, and each member of the family was able to create an effective tool that got the job done as well as could be done.
Of course education isn’t as simple as passing down instructions on how to make and use a tool to poke holes in leather, but its nice to think of the similarities between these two things. Its nice to think that the person who made this tool was taught by their parents, who were taught by their parents, etc., It’s nice to think that this tool probably got the job done as simply and as effectively as any other tool that could have been made, and it’s nice to think that my Grandpa and i could figure out what it was used for, and could feel the history inside of it.
The tool my Grandpa found looks the most like #1 in the picture below. (not too much of a stretch to see it as a lion killing knife…right?)