Universiteit Leiden

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Dissertation

Reconstructing adhesives

An experimental approach to organic palaeolithic technology

Author
P.R.B. Kozowyk
Date
13 October 2020
Links
Leiden Repository

The first use of birch tar adhesives by Neandertals over 191,000 years ago marked a significant technological development. The ability to produce entirely new materials through transformative processes was unlike anything that had been done before. In southern Africa, during the Middle Stone Age, humans made compound adhesives by combining disparate ingredients, a task which is believed to have required modern-like levels of cognition. However, for all of the significance given to ancient adhesives in discussions about Neandertal and modern human technological and cognitive capabilities, our knowledge of the material itself is limited.

This thesis provides the first comprehensive study of Middle Palaeolithic and Middle Stone Age adhesives, providing new insight into the material choices and technological capabilities of Neandertals and Middle Stone Age humans. Finally, as awareness for the importance of Palaeolithic adhesive residues continues to increase, and more discoveries are made, new questions and materials that need to be tested are constantly being brought to light.

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