Neanderthals actually used two-component glue, 40,000-year-old stone tools reveal

Neanderthals actually used two-component glue, 40,000-year-old stone tools reveal

Scientists have made a special discovery: European Neanderthals made their own glue by mixing ocher and bitumen.

Modern research shows something very amazing: Neanderthals used to make their own glue and had to plan and undertake long journeys over long distances to collect the necessary materials for this purpose – ocher and bitumen. Since the final mixture contains mainly ochre, it does not stick to the hands, but rather sticks to stone objects. This allows the glue to be used as a handle. Neanderthals would have glued a mixture of bitumen and ocher to the tool, and then held the tool down with a block of “glue” (see also image later in this article). Scientist Radu Iovita contributed to the research. “The tools we examined are very well preserved,” explains Iovita. “Neanderthals used technical solutions that we also discovered in Africa, near where the first appeared A wise man Live. What we're seeing here is that Neanderthals put their own spin on the same idea by essentially using glue as a handle. The research has been published in the journal Advancement of science.

Le Moustier
To conduct the study, scientists examined the stone tools from which they come Le Moustier; Nearby archaeological site Pizac le Mustier in France. The age of these stone tools is estimated to be between 40,000 and 120,000 years. After excavation in 1960, the stone tools ended up in the museum archives Berlin Museum of Prehistory and Early History. Fellow scientist and team member Ewa Dutkiewicz explains: “The objects were individually wrapped in 1960 and left alone ever since. As a result, the glue residue was very well preserved.

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He wears
Scientists examined stone tools by first examining them under a microscope. “The objects showed two types of wear,” Iovita said. For example, the sharp edges of the tool attest that it has already been used and that other materials have been processed with it. In addition, the researchers also noticed corrosion on the side where the tool was supposed to be placed. “We assume this is the result of wear between the ocher in the handle and the stone itself, caused by the movement of the stone tool in the handle.”

Finally, the research team also replicated the glue itself, so that the strength of the mixture could be verified. “We discovered that glue can be made using liquid bitumen and adding 55% ocher,” says lead researcher Patrick Schmidt. This results in a kind of elastic mass. This flexible mass would have been folded around the stone tool and used as a handle. Microscopic examination of wear marks shows that this is also the case for tools Le Moustier.

On the left you see a mixture of bitumen and ochre, which Neanderthals must have used. When you mix that, you get a kind of elastic mass that doesn't stick to your hands, but sticks to a stone tool. This makes this block ideal as a handle for these stone tools. On the right you can see what it might look like. Photos: Patrick Schmidt.

Research is particularly important culturally. The production and use of glue can tell us a lot about how advanced Neanderthals were cognitively and culturally. “In science, we consider the use of two-component glue to be one of the first expressions of modern cognitive processes,” explains Schmidt. Our research shows that Neanderthals in Europe thought in the same way as early humans in Africa. The fact that Neanderthals invented this glue can teach us a lot about the precise evolution of humans.

It has long been thought that Neanderthals were stupid and clumsy, unable to live up to the level of modern humans. But evidence suggesting that they were barely or not cognitively inferior to our ancestors has accumulated in recent decades. This latest study also contributes to this and also reveals that Neanderthals were intelligent men. For example, researchers point out that ocher and bitumen are not up for grabs in the Le Moustiers region. This means that Neanderthals would have had to travel far to obtain those two-component glue ingredients. Such a trip required not only a lot of effort, but also a little planning, around a plan of action aimed at obtaining and then processing the ingredients.

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