Basic Materials

Glue:

Tree Resin/Pitch Glue Ingredients:

  • Tree Resin (sometimes referred to as "Pitch") from any variety of coniferous species. The clear or yellow resin seeps from anywhere the tree has been injured and often looks like the wood itself - Note: natural resin originates from sap but is an entirely different substance.
  • Binding Agent (without this the tree resin would be too brittle):
    • Charcoal
    • Beeswax
    • Dry shredded plant matter (typically in the form of animal droppings)

Method:

  • Grind the charcoal and animal droppings to a powder - the finer the better so it is worth extra time and effort in the process. In a suitable container, heat the tree resin (be careful while melting because it is flammable) until it become more liquid. Stir the other ingredients until the glue becomes a thick, black, tar-like substance that is very sticky.
  • A ratio of 2 parts resin to 1 part charcoal/Beeswax/animal droppings works well.
  • The glue mixture will harden very quickly upon removal from the heat source, but will become pliable again as heat is applied. Therefore it is possible to make in advance and store until required for use.

Modern Alternatives: Epoxy resin

Cord/String:

Nettle String:

  • Find some tall and straight nettles (the ideal time to harvest is mid - late summer for optimum strength)
  • Hold the nettle firmly (gloves may be necessary to avoid stings) and give it a slow but firm pull that extract the whole nettle, with roots
  • Rub the stinging hairs and leaves off in one movement to leave the stem and remove the thin top section of the stem
  • Crush the stem all the way along using your fingers and with your fingernail open up the stem and tear off the outer fibres, which should ideally be left to dry
  • Twist or plait the dry fibres to create the string (add move fibres for thicker string)
  • Add extra fibres to any desired length - the fibres need to be twisted the same way and the string twists in the other

Modern Alternatives: Natural Jute string; Natural Raffia

Pigments:

Ingredients:

In 2008 Archaeologists discovered two sets of art kits a cave in South Africa. The team of researchers, led by Professor Christopher Henshilwood from the universities of Bergen and Witwatersrand, believe that the ochre was used for forms of artwork. The two kits thought to be 100,000 years old, includes abalone shells, ochre, bone, charcoal, grindstones and hammer stones. The ochre – made from soft rock with red or yellow pigments - was probably ground into a fine powder by the use of quartzite cobbles, before being mixed and heated with crushed stones or bones in the abalone shells.

my prehistoric art kit

My prehistoric art kit (above) comprises powdered purple, red and yellow ochre's at the back, charcoal (made from English willow charcoal - a less harmful alternative to the manganese dioxide which was used by prehistoric cave painters) and white china clay in the front abalone shells.

Modern Alternatives: Poster paints / Acrylic paints / Oil paints

 

The table below shows various projects and activities that you can try at home (see Terms & Conditions).

  • The first set of projects are focused on experimental archaeology techniques and typically will require specialised equipment, tools or materials and some degree of knowledge. These should not be attempted by anyone under 16 with full adult guidance.
  • The next is a fun collection of ideas, website resources and projects to help make that perfect caveman / cavegirl outfit for a fancy dress, halloween event, themed party. These are divided into DIY projects and commercially goods available to suit your needs.
  • The last set of projects are child-friendly and would be ideal for archaeology/science school assignments, prehistoric themed parties, history clubs/YAC meetings or just a wet afternoon! Discussion points and further activity ideas are included for each project. These should not be attempted by anyone under 10 with full adult guidance.

>> If you do try any of these projects, send a photo and it will be added to this site <<

 

Adult Projects Description Difficulty
Ancient Arrow This project shows how to make prehistoric arrows from scratch
Atlatl
How to make three different styled wooden Atlatls. The Atlatl (pronounced at-lat-al or atal-atal) is an ancient spear-throwing weapon that uses leverage to achieve great velocity and distance of the projectile.
Arrow Fletching This project shows the traditional split-feather arrow fletching from the Medieval period
Bronze Age Hat This project shows a wet-felting process to make a Danish style Bronze Age hat
Bronze Age Shoes This project shows a very simply leather shoe, based on find from Norway in 2006
Coracle The making of ancient hazel wood coracles. The coracle is a ancient boat used in the British Isles from pre-Roman times - the earliest known reference to a coracle is in "The History of Herodotus" written about 424 BC
Fire-Hardened Spear How to fire-hardened a wooden spear
Ötzi Knife & Sheath Make the flint knife (not yet shown) and grass sheath found with Ötzi the Iceman, would lived in the Chalcolithic (Copper Age) about 5,300 years ago.
Ötzi Shoes How to make Ötzi the Iceman, shoes (the second oldest shoes in the world from about 5,300 years ago), using authentic materials.
Child-friendly Projects Description Difficulty
3D Mini Dig Mini archaeology dig to find artefacts at different Stratification layers
Cave Art 1 Make your own cave art hand & animal silhouettes
Cave Art 2 Make your own prehistoric paints
Cave Art 3 Make a prehistoric collage
Coprolite Detective A messy, but great fun activity to guess the archaeological period from (fake) coprolite or poop !!
Cropmarks Make your own cropmark and discover what they mean
Rubbish Pit Challenge Study the image of a campfire and answer the questions
Stick Weaving A simple weaving method using two sticks (or even lolly sticks) that anyone can try
Stone Age Necklace Create a stone age necklace from seashells, odin stones and modeling clay
Treasure Hunter Find the buried treasure "goodies" with a metal detector
Venus Figurine Create an ancient Venus Figurine from clay
Yucca Paint Brush Make a paint brush entirely from Yucca leaves

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