The Rediscovery and Making of LOST Biblical Cedar Pitch Glue!
Here is a recent video of me discussing my discovery of making Cedar Pitch Biblical Glue:
How I made Biblical Glue:
My research dictated that the Davidic Javelin had a 3 cubit long Ash wood shaft roughly 1 thick in the middle to roughly ½ inch thick on both ends. This shaft was split and glued together with “a cedar pitch based glue”. That’s it! That’s all! There was nothing else regarding the properties of this glue. So, I purchased brewer’s pitch, used it as wood glue, and found that it was easily broken with very little twisting.
Historically, these javelins where sent home with the Israeli veterans who survived war. These veterans used their javelins as home defense weapons and to help out with village law enforcement issues. In fact, these javelins where so important to the personal identity of the Davidic Dynasty War Veterans, that many of them where buried with their javelins. This means that the javelin was not a "one use" disposable weapon but one that stood the test of time. Thus, the type of pitch used to glue these things MUST have been stronger then my raw pine brewer's pitch.
So, it was research time, again. The result took a week of research to put together. After looking into the chemical breakdowns of several ancient “Pitch” based Glues that where archeologically discovered through out the world, but mostly around the Eastern Mediterranean area, two pieces of data were repeated in every report. First, there was general amazement that such a powerful glue could exist as early as 36,000 years ago in Israel, and that out of all four ingredients, three basic ingredients where almost always the same.
These three ingredients where always cedar/pine pitch, finely ground ash powder, and beeswax. The fourth ingredient was any type of chemical binder the local environment could produce. Remember King David lived 3000 years ago. This same type glue was made by the Egyptians at least 4000 yeas ago. Beeswax, tree pitches (a dark sticky substance made from trees) and bitumen (a natural substance that contains hydrocarbons. i.e. coal) were used as protective coatings and adhesives which where also used by Neolithic man in materials found inside a Nahal Hemar cave, in a dry region southwest of the Dead Sea.
The Ma'agan Mikhael shipwreck was discovered in 1985 in shallow waters of the Mediterranean coast of Israel. The ship was dated to 500 BC. and was glued together with what was analyzed as a conifer resin, This ash and sap resin had undergone thermal treatment and should be properly referred to as 'tar' or 'pitch'. Finally, Analysis of Roman glue shows that Roman Republic (200-10 BC) was made glue from bitumen (binder), bark pitch and animal grease (providing flex). When Roman people broke their pots, they glued them back together with a black compound derived largely from birch bark pitch, some inorganic material such as soot, was added to make the mixture stickier.
This conifer based pitch glue could be mixed differently to achieve different results. Ancient Israeli people used this stuff to repair broken things. It was also mixed to dry hard to work as a wood glue and actually mixed soft to be used to make super gummy, glue sticks, which where used for hunting to take down birds by merely throwing it at them. Hunting birds by Glue sticks is not mentioned in the bible, However it was off handedly referenced in the Talmud.. the use of “Sticky sticks” was not allowed on the Sabbath (Saturday)...to put glue on tip of Shabshebet (stick or branch) was considered labor...(Sabbath,VIII, 7). In another case putting glue... In order to put on cane tip of hunters... was considered labor and thus made taboo.(Sabbath, LXXX, 1) .
The fourth ingredient was the chemical binding element, which had to be deciduous to the Israeli area, and historically used around King David’s time to combine powders and liquids together to form many different products. I chose to use Gum Arabic and here is why.
The uses of Gum Arabic date back about 5000 years to the time of the ancient Egyptians, and it is the oldest and best known of all the natural gums. Among its many ancient applications, Gum Acacia was used as a binder in cosmetics and inks, and as an agent mixed with resins (conifer pitch) to make substances used in the mummification process. Egyptian fleets shipped Gum Arabic (Gum Acacia) as an article of commerce. Ancient inscriptions frequently refer to "KAMI", a form of Gum Acacia used as a pigment binder, a binder for mixing glue, and adhesive in painting. It was eventually introduced to Europe through various Arabian ports acquiring the name "Gum Arabic" after its place of origin.
So, as a Christian, who is not tied by the law to the Sabbath,
Last Saturday, my sister in law and I stepped outside my home into the freezing weather and set up our glue making station. We set up a large space heater, some chairs, on a table made of a wide plank of wood on some cinder blocks, we set up my coin scale and a “Hobo Stove” made from a paint can, with wire hanger rods making a grill in the top and with a triangular hole cut in the side.
Instead of a butane camp stove we used this simple “Hobo Stove” because it was invaluable for 3 reasons.
One, the stove was warm, and it was COLD outside!
Two, the stove was easily made hot enough to melt the ingredients.
Three, because it burned wood as fuel, it also produced the ash we needed for the project.
We started out by rolling out a sheet of wax paper onto our make shift table and set out my small bottle of liquid Gum Arabic. We then burned my Cedar of Lebanon resin cones to ash. (Yup, I actually hand gathered these from a Cedar of Lebanon found in a private garden, grown right here in the Raleigh Area.) We then ground this ash with a mortis and pezil into a super fine powder. We then broke up the beeswax into smaller pieces to better be added, by weight, to the mixture.
While the ash was being produced I heated up my small pot of Brewers Pitch (Pine Resin) and brought it to a mild boil. We then kept it at a liquid temperature by leaving it on the space heater so we could use the hobo stove for the actual Glue mixing process.
Since I am gluing an “ash wood” javelin shaft together, we broke up a 1 inch X ½ inch piece of ash wood into multiple sticks to test the glues strength at each stage of the mix until we arrived at the optimal mix.
The first mix was heated and combined without any Arabic Gum added to the mixture. When we poured out the mix, on the wax paper and waited for it to cool into a putty, the ash made a pile in the middle, and the beeswax/pitch separated and oozed away from the ash like egg white flows from the egg yoke in a pan…NOT good and not strong either. (maybe 2x as strong as pine pitch alone)
When we added in just .10 ounces of Arabic Gum into the reheated mixture, there was a violent foaming reaction much like pouring root beer over ice cream but explosive to the second power. When we poured out this second mix the ash was evenly mixed in and further broken down. When it cooled down enough to handle on the wax paper and applied to the wood, we found this mix dried none sticky and that it was 5 times stronger then the fist batch. As the glue pour cooled, I hand rolled it into rods. However, in its fully cooled state I dropped one of these rods and it shattered like glass. (Also not good, because the javelin glue needed to be resilient to shocks and blows in combat and if it broke like glass this was not it.)
We talked about the need for the glue to be more flexible yet still dry non-sticky. I pondered this problem and the nature of each of ingredient’s individual properties and I nailed the mix on the third try!
This time, I doubled the beeswax to add flexibility and softness. Before, when we added to .10oz. of Gum Arabic we learned that the ash was broken down and better mixed into the glue. So, I tripled it, and to lessen the reaction, I added it in earlier in the heating process. When I poured this batch, it flowed thick and smooth, like black milk. There where zero ash grains and it rolled easily into rods that where much more flexible, did not shatter and just barely sticky when dry. These glue rods could be heated with a lighter and spread onto the wood like “modern hot glue” does. Best of all the glue was twice again as strong as the second batch and when I finally broke the bond by force, the wood ripped apart before the bond did.
The only changes that I would make is to adjust the down the amount of beeswax by half an ounce less if you live in a warmer climate then North Carolina, so you can optimize strength and reduce flexibility due to heat.
The final recipe for Biblical Glue (measured by weight) is as fallows:
.30 ounce of Gum Arabic (native to Egypt , India and Israeli area) 5 ounces of clean, dry pitch pine resin (native to Israeli area) 2 ounces of pure beeswax (native to Israeli area) 1 ounce of fine ground plant ash/charcoal (finely ground Cedar of Lebanon ash)
Last edited by Steadfast; 14th February 2012 at 12:08.
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