Magazine article Science News

Stick-Ons for Stone Age Tools

Magazine article Science News

Stick-Ons for Stone Age Tools

Article excerpt

Two stone implements dating to at least 36,000 years ago bear traces of a sticky black substance once used to attach them to a handle, according to a new report.

The discovery of the gluelike material, identified in chemical analyses as bitumen, pushes back substantially estimates of when adhesives were first used in tool making. Until now, the earliest evidence of this technique appeared at Middle Eastern sites no more than about 10,000 years old.

"These new data suggest that [Stone Age] people had greater technical ability than previously thought, as they were able to use different materials to produce tools," contend Eric Boeda of the University of Paris and his coworkers in the March 28 Nature.

The artifacts, which run from 2 inches to 3.5 inches in length, come from a site in the Syrian desert known as Umm el Tlel. Each was struck from a specially prepared lump of stone, a technique that became widespread between 35,000 and 100,000 years ago in North Africa and nearby Mediterranean regions. …

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