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Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells

Date:
December 19, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Prehistoric farming communities in Europe constructed water wells out of oak timbers, revealing that these first farmers were skilled carpenters long before metal was discovered or used for tools. The research contradicts the common belief that metal tools were required to make complex wooden structures.

This image shows Neolithic wooden water wells.
Credit: Willy Tegel, Rengert Elburg, Dietrich Hakelberg, Harald Stäuble, Ulf Büntgen. Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51374 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051374

Prehistoric farming communities in Europe constructed water wells out of oak timbers, revealing that these first farmers were skilled carpenters long before metal was discovered or used for tools.

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The research published Dec. 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Willy Tegel and colleagues from the University of Freiburg, Germany, contradicts the common belief that metal tools were required to make complex wooden structures.

The wooden water wells discovered in eastern Germany are over 7000 years old, and suggest that these early farmers had unexpectedly refined carpentry skills. "This early Neolithic craftsmanship now suggests that the first farmers were also the first carpenters", the study reports.

These first Central European farmers migrated from the Great Hungarian Plain approximately 7,500 years ago, and left an archeological trail of settlements, ceramics and stone tools across the fertile regions of the continent, a record named Linear Pottery Culture (LBK).

However, much of the lifestyle of these early settlers is still a mystery, including the climate they lived in and technology or strategies they used to cope with their surroundings. According to the study, the oak timbers analyzed in this study are also a new archive of environmental data preserved in the tree rings, which could tell an accurate, year-by-year story of the times these early settlers lived in.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Willy Tegel, Rengert Elburg, Dietrich Hakelberg, Harald Stäuble, Ulf Büntgen. Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51374 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051374

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219173908.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, December 19). Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219173908.htm
Public Library of Science. "Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219173908.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

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Archaeologists Date World's Oldest Timber Constructions

Dec. 20, 2012 — A research team has succeeded in precisely dating four water wells built by the first Central European agricultural civilization with the help of dendrochronology or growth ring dating. The wells ... read more

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