Researchers from the University of Bristol and the British Museum, in collaboration with Oxford Archaeology East and Canterbury Archaeological Trust, have, for the very first time, identified the usage of birch bark tar in medieval England– making use of which was formerly believed to be limited to prehistory.
Birch bark tar is a made product with a history of production and usage that reaches back to the Palaeolithic. It is extremely sticky, and is water resistant, and also has biocidal properties suggest that it has a wide variety of applications, for example, as a multipurpose adhesive, sealant and in medication.
Archaeological evidence for birch bark tar covers a broad geographical range from the UK to the Baltic and from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia.
In the east and north of this range there is connection of use to contemporary times however in western Europe and the British Isles making use of birch bark tar has actually typically been considered as limited to prehistory, with gradual displacement by pine tars during the Roman duration.
The brand-new recognitions, reported today in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, came from 2 early medieval websites in the east of England.
The very first was a small swelling of dark material found in a kid grave of the Anglo-Saxon period (440-530 ADVERTISEMENT) in Cambridge (evaluated by the Organic Geochemistry System, University of Bristol, for Oxford Archaeology East).
The other tar (evaluated by scientists at the British Museum) was found coating the interior of a ceramic container connected with a 5th-6th century cemetery site at Ringlemere in Kent.
The child in the Cambridge Anglo-Saxon period tomb was likely a woman, aged 7 to 9 years old, and she had a range of grave products, consisting of brooches and beads on her chest, and a variety of artefacts, consisting of an iron knife, a copper alloy girdle hanger and an iron ring, together with the dark swelling of product, all consisted of within a bag hanging from a belt at her waist.
The different contexts of the discovers indicate varied applications of the product.
From pathological indications on the child skeleton, the group surmise that the birch bark tar may have been utilized for medicinal functions as birch bark tar has a long history in medicine, having antiseptic homes.
The tar in the ceramic vessel from Ringlemere might have been utilized for processing the tar or sealing the container.
Both of the tars were discovered to include fatty product, perhaps included to soften the tar, or, in the case of the container might suggest numerous usages.
Dr Rebecca Stacey from the British Museum’s Department of Scientific Research study said: “The manufacturing and use of birch bark tar is popular is popular from ancient times but these finds indicate either a lot longer connection of use of this material than has been acknowledged prior to or perhaps a reintroduction of the technology in eastern areas at this time.”
Dr Julie Dunne, from the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry, included: “These results present the very first identification of birch bark tar from early middle ages archaeological contexts in the UK.
” Remarkably, they are from 2 different contexts, one in a ceramic pot, which recommends it may have been utilized to process birch bark into tar and the other as an ‘unknown’ lump in a kid grave of the Anglo-Saxon period. The pathological signs on the child skeleton suggests the birch bark tar might have been used for medical functions.”
Dr Ian Bull, likewise from the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry, stated: “This is a fantastic example of how state-of-the-art chemical analyses have actually had the ability to re-characterise an otherwise ordinary things as something of severe historical interest, supplying possible insights into medicinal practices in the Middle Ages.”