Making glue from plants is not easy, but early humanoids were able to make complex adhesives. How did they do this? Research on traditional glue-making in Africa helps us to reconstruct ancient way of adhesive production.
A major step in the development of ancient humans is the ability to create useful products from natural materials. For the creation of tools (spears, arrows, stone axes), simple glues and complex adhesives are needed to fasten a sharpened rock to a stick. The Ancient Adhesives project will develop an entirely novel computer-based method to determine the complexity of technologies of the deep past. We want to compare the glue-making of Neanderthals and modern humans to understand how similar or different these two hominin species were. Part of this research is devoted to identify plant species involved in traditional glue-making in Ethiopia and Zambia.
The aim of this MSc project is to identify plant species used to make simple glues or complex adhesives in Zambia. Fieldwork is planned around August-September 2020. Research questions include: What plant parts, processing methods and specific applications are involved in the production of plant adhesives?
The student will conduct an ethnobotanical research in south-western Zambia in order to document what plants are used to make traditional glues and understand how people make these glues by asking and observing people who still make and use traditional adhesives in small-scale societies.
6 months (36EC) starting August 2020
- Knowledge of collecting herbarium specimens.
- Availability for fieldwork in Zambia in August-September 2020
- Courses: Plant Families of the Tropics, Ethnobotany (recommended)
Study and level
Biology, Plan Sciences, Ecology MSc