Skip to comments.World's oldest glue used from prehistoric times till the days of the Gauls
Posted on 11/16/2019 11:14:34 PM PST by SunkenCiv
Birch bark tar, the oldest glue in the world, was in use for at least 50,000 years, from the Palaeolithic Period up until the time of the Gauls. Made by heating birch bark, it served as an adhesive for hafting tools and decorating objects. Scientists mistakenly thought it had been abandoned in western Europe at the end of the Iron Age (800-25 BC) and replaced by conifer resins, around which a full-fledged industry developed during the Roman period. But by studying artefacts that date back to the first six centuries AD through the lens of chemistry, archaeology, and textual analysis, researchers from the CNRS, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis / Université Côte d'Azur, and Inrap have discovered birch tar was being used right up to late antiquity, if not longer. The artefacts in question--found in a region where birch is scarce, thus raising the question of how it was procured--are testimony to the strength of tradition among the Gauls. The scientists' findings are published in Antiquity (13 November 2019).
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When I was a kid I saw a lot more birch trees than I’m seeing now. Not sure why that is.
The bark peels off from birch trees fairly easily without harming them. More aggressive means can remove large sheets from healthy ones without killing them. Once done the uses are many. Otzi the iceman made his arrows using the tar, made by cooking it in an oxygen-free container.
Didn’t American Indians in the North use bark from birch trees to construct their canoes? They likely used the tar to help hold it together and waterproof the boat.
Don’t know. But yes, waterproofing and corrosion resistance are good uses of birch bark oil or tar, even today. I’ve never tried making it myself. I’d probably set the neighborhood on fire. It’s nice and flammable too.
We even know a guy named Elmer invented it....
Humans have been using resin from trees since they discovered tree’s. Most common manner of attaching a stone point Is using pitch sometimes mixed with a little charcoal. It sets up very hard and with the combination of a wet sinew wrap you have an incredibly strong set up.
I’ve been a flint knapper for around 40 years and along the way I’ve learned to make not only flint points and tools I’ve made bows and arrows as well. Pitch is used in several parts of manufacturing. Down along the Pecos and Devils river area In south West Texas, (Trans Pecos area) caves have been discover that contained not only Yucca fiber shoes but containers/bags made from it also. Some of these bags were like tool kits containing basic knapping equipment, fire starting tools, dried sinew, and pieces of sap/resin. They also used a glue made from rabbits and other animals but Bunny Glue seems to be the common name for it. Between the hide and muscle of an animal is a layer material that slick and allows movement of muscle between the two. They would scrap this off and use it for glue or for sealing. It’s still somewhat flexible when dried so it’s been used when attaching sinew to bows to increase their strength. Back to the Birch sap, I can easily see how it can be found many miles away from it’s source.
There was a discovery of chert preforms found in Colorado from the Paleo period. these preforms were made of Alibates flint found only in a small area in the Texas Panhandle around Fritz Texas. When early humans were on the move the had to take everything with them. Once they found another source of flint to make their tool from the materiel they carried with them was left behind.
Thanks Sunken - new word for me an my kids: “Hafting” - “Hafting is a process by which an artifact, often bone, metal, or stone is attached to a haft (handle or strap).”
A huge development for humans, but I don’t know of any animals having been shown to do it (but many do use simple tools).
Wouldn’t that be gorilla glue?
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
Back in the day, Home Litho used to stock this glue on isle 4.
Seems pretty simple.
Basic backyard pyrolysis. Oil and biofuel can be extracted from just about any living matter this way.
Always wondered ow they recapped tires.
Well, son of a birch! They fired him!
There are indications that the Neanderthals used this glue formula up to 200,000 years ago!
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