It's One for the Agesby Randall Read on 12/23/11
The three-age system used in archaeology is named for the respective tool-making technologies used during those periods; the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. There were most certainly tools made of wood, bone or antlers used during these same periods, but sadly, these don't stand up well over thousands of years.
Our stone hand-axe is a good example of a Stone Age type tool. Unfortunately, we don't have anything that would represent the Bronze Age; at least I haven't stumbled upon it yet. The broad axe pictured below would be a good example of tool that might have been made in the Iron Age.
This tool would more specifically be called an Offset Broad Axe. Named for the bent or curved handle, its primary purpose would have been to plane a log or timber and was a vital tool in home and ship building.
A line would be established along the length of the wood and the axe wielded to remove the excess as close to the line as possible. Depending on the application of the finished piece of timber, the use of the broad axe was generally just the first stage of the shaping process.
The bent or offset handle prevented the user from ripping the skin off their knuckles on the timber. The blade is flat on one side and tapered on the other. The blades are generally forged symmetrically and handles were bent in either direction so that right and left hand versions could use the same axe head.
The blade is a great example of a hand forged piece. If you look along the length of the blade you will see a seam where a newer cutting-edge portion was forge-welded onto the original head. The head length is about 13 inches with a total tool length of 26 inches. It weighs in at 7 lbs and is sharp enough to do severe damage to one's leg.