Archaeologists have reportedly found traces of a glue used by the Romans 2,000 years ago near the town of Xanten in Germany.
It had lain on what was once the bed of the Rhine for at least 1,500 years.
According to researchers at the Rhineland Historical Museum in Bonn, this ancient glue was used to mount silver laurel leaves on legionnaires’ battle helmets, made of iron.
Though the helmet lay on the river-bed for so long, its glue was not exposed to the destructive effects of the atmosphere, and therefore, did not lose its adhesive power.
“Researchers came across the glue by surprise while removing a tiny sample of metal from the helmet with a fine saw. The heat from the tool caused silver laurel leaves decorating the helmet to peel off leaving thread-like traces of the glue behind,” said Frank Willer, the museum’s chief restorer.
“It is a sensational find and a complete stroke of luck that we were still able to find traces of the substance on the helmet after 2,000 years,” he added.
Analysis shows that Roman glue was made of bitumen, beef tallow and pitch.
But researchers say they have failed to recreate the adhesive, and add that sawdust, soot or sand might have to be used to complete the process.
“When we finally manage to remake the superglue, it will easily compete with its modern equivalents,” Willer told The Independent.
“Other Roman remains, including ancient battle masks, kept by the museum, bore traces of silver decorations and had probably been glued in the same way,” said Willer. “But their condition has deteriorated too far to find evidence of glue,” he added.