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Human World’s oldest wooden wells excavated in Germany

World’s oldest wooden wells excavated in Germany

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First Posted: Dec 31, 2012 11:15 AM EST

Up to 7,400-year-old wooden structures for water wells were discovered by German archaeologists led by Dr Willy Tegel of the University of Freiburg, which suggest that prehistoric farmers had unexpectedly refined carpentry skills. The results "contradict the common belief that metal was necessary for complex timber constructions", and question the current thesis of continuous evolutionary development in prehistoric technology say the researcher.

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Wooden wells
(Photo : Tegel W et al / PLoS ONE)
These images show 3D laser rendering of wood from the 7,111-year-old well unearthed near the historic town Eythra in Saxony, 3D model of the well lining set-up using laser images and a sketch of the base frame with wedged tusk tenon joints and the frame with interlocked corner joints.

 

The study, published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, is based on four water well constructions excavated in Saxony, Eastern Germany, two of them at the historic town of Eythra. The Finds are located along the path of the so called Linear Pottery Culture, an archeological trail of settlements, stone tools and ceramics left by the first Central European farmers, migrating from the Great Hungarian Plain towards todays France.

Wooden wells
(Photo : Tegel W et al / PLoS ONE)
Top, from left to right: prehistoric wooden wells unearthed in Saxony, Germany – Eythra 1, Eythra 2, Brodau and Altscherbitz. Bottom: Central European loess distribution and the 12 known early Neolithic wells.

 

The study's abstract explains the finds in the context of neolithic human evolution: "The European Neolithization ~6000-4000 BC represents a pivotal change in human history when farming spread and the mobile style of life of the hunter-foragers was superseded by the agrarian culture. Permanent settlement structures and agricultural production systems required fundamental innovations in technology, subsistence, and resource utilization. Motivation, course, and timing of this transformation, however, remain debatable. Here we present annually resolved and absolutely dated dendroarchaeological information from four wooden water wells of the early Neolithic period that were excavated in Eastern Germany. A total of 151 oak timbers preserved in a waterlogged environment were dated between 5469 and 5098 BC and reveal unexpectedly refined carpentry skills."

 

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