Neanderthal Superglue

Posted by Chris Parker
Jun 05 2005

Archaeologists analysing stone tool artefacts have discovered that Neanderthals fixed wooden handles to flint knives by means of ‘superglue’ made from birch pitch.

Despite the ‘bumbling reputation’ of Neanderthals, the ability to make the adhesive reveals substantial know-how that it would even be difficult for modern manufacturing plants to duplicate.

The smouldering process to turn birch bark into usable glue only works at a temperature of 340-400°C and under exclusion of oxygen. Lower temperatures prohibit resin in the wood from melting, and higher temperatures would burn tar exuded from the birch.

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