Ground and polished stone axes in southern Italy received little attention after a period of lively interest in the late 19th century. The great number of axes from archaeological sites and collections suggests widespread manufacture and exchange on a considerable scale. In eastern Sicily the production of basalt axes was long-lived, beginning in the Neolithic (Stentinello phase) and reaching a peak in the Copper and Early Bronze Ages. Greenstone axes are also found throughout these periods. By the Middle or Late Bronze Age, stone axes were probably little used, having been largely replaced by metal tools.
The axes from Serra Orlando (where the historical site of Morgantina is located) form one of the largest collections in Sicily from a single site, where they were found in multi-period contexts, dating from the third millennium BC until the Hellenistic period. Petrological analysis suggests that basalt from the Iblean hills was frequently used for their manufacture, while the serpentinites, tremolite-bearing rocks and pyroxenite probably originate in the Calabro-Peloritani Arc. The results of the analysis of thin sections are presented in appendixes. Raw materials, distribution and manufacture of axes are discussed and a preliminary investigation of their typology is presented. Multiple functions for Sicilian axes, related to morphology and raw materials, are suggested by their archaeological contexts.