|Wild honeybee comb filled with honey. Photo by author, 2013|
Lead investigator Francesco d'Errico reported the oldest use of beeswax in a recipe for hafting based on residues identified on well preserved wood. The recipe included beeswax, Euphorbia resin, and possibly egg matter supporting vegetable twine likely made with stringy inner bark. Francesco d'Errico added: "This complex compound used for hafting arrowheads or tools, which is 40,000 years old, is the oldest known evidence of the use of beeswax."
Complex materials culture is a hallmark of modernity among ancient peoples. This find suggests the early San hunter-gatherers could find, identify, and assemble ingredients for preparing adhesive, making cordage, and joining flaked stone with carved wood for the manufacture of complex tools.
"This research, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, is published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. © F. d’Errico and L. Backwell"