Age of world’s oldest timber constructions determined
|The 7000-year-old well of Altscherbitz near Leipzig during the excavation [Credit: Sächsisches Landesamt für Archäologie, Dresden]|
The four early Neolithic wells were constructed from oak wood. In addition to the timber, many other waterlogged organic materials, such as plant remains, wooden artifacts, bark vessels, and bast fiber cords, as well as an array of richly decorated ceramic vessels, have survived for millennia hermetically sealed below groundwater level. With the help of dendrochronology, the scientists were able to determine the exact felling years of the trees and thus also the approximate time at which the wells were constructed.
|The 7000-year-old well of Altscherbitz near Leipzig during the excavation. Ceramic finds in the backfill of the well [Credit: Sächsisches Landesamt für Archäologie, Dresden]|
In the course of the sixth millennium BC, the nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle gave way to a sedentary lifestyle with agriculture and stock breeding in Central Europe. This break in the history of humankind has been termed the "Neolithic Revolution." A sedentary lifestyle required permanent housing, and houses are inconceivable without a developed woodworking technology -- in other words, the first farmers were also the first carpenters. Until now, however, archaeologists have only succeeded in unearthing the soil marks left by their houses.
The precisely dated wells will enable scientists to conduct more detailed studies on the important role of timber construction techniques for humankind's adoption of a sedentary lifestyle.
Source: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg [December 20, 2012]