Axes are some of the oldest tools known to man. They were common in the stone age. Initially, they were made without a handle (or haft) and the cutting edge was made from stone.
They were quickly turned into weapons. However, thrown axes were not used until 400-500 AD.
The Francisca axe is probably the most famous types of throwing axes. It was used in the early middle age as a weapon. Commonly associated with the Franks, for whom it was the national weapon, it was also used by many of the other Germanic Tribes at the time.
Some historians believe that the thrown axe was not actually used in battles. They believe it would be folly to throw away a prized weapon and then be unarmed in the face of their enemies. Instead, they believe that it was used in the hunting of food. It was difficult to get within an arm’s length of an animal so thrown weapons were often used.
Other historians claim that the axe was thrown before hand-to-hand combat. They provided a psychological edge to their war efforts. The Francisca would often have a random trajectory so it was difficult to predict where the axe was going to go. After a volley, enemies would often run fearing that another volley would follow.