Studies in organic archaeometry I: Identification of the prehistoric adhesive used by the "Tyrolean Iceman" to fix his weapons

2000 ARKIVOC  
The weapons of the glacier mummy of the chalcolithic "Man from the Hauslabjoch" (i.e. the "Tyrolean Iceman", nicknamed "Oetzi") contained traces of organic adhesives, obviously used to fix parts of his weapons (i.e., the flintstone arrowheads and the copper hatchet) to their respective shafts. In order to prove whether or not these adhesives might be birch bark pitches similar to some other organic materials found in Central and Northern Europe, model pitches were prepared from a large number
more » ... om a large number of different trees and a sequence of analytical methods was developed to differentiate between the different species of trees. The crucial features of this analytical sequence consisted in the isolation of a characteristic terpene fraction by Kugelrohr distillation, followed by GC/MS analysis and by application of chemometrics to improve the interpretation of the GC/MS results. By this methodology it could be shown that Oetzi's weapons were glued by means of birch bark pitch. To prepare this, pyrolysis of the bark of the birch (betula pendula = betula verrucosa) obviously gave a tar, which on heating was converted into the thermoplastic pitch.
doi:10.3998/ark.5550190.0001.507 fatcat:ylvnw5l3dncczjczsoq7o3u3ba