7,000-yr-old German water wells found to be earliest work of first carpenters

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 01, 2013 10:30 hrs

Archaeologists in Germany have excavated 7,000-year-old wooden water wells, which are believed to be the earliest wooden constructions ever found.

They were built by the Linear Pottery culture, which existed from roughly 5600 to 4900 BC.

A research team led by Willy Tegel and Dr. Dietrich Hakelberg from the Institute of Forest Growth of the University of Freiburg 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 team's findings, which have been published in the international scientific journal PLoS ONE, give new insight into prehistoric technology, the Daily Mail reported.

The wells were excavated at settlements in the Greater Leipzig region and are the oldest known timber constructions in the world.

A total of 151 oak timbers preserved in a waterlogged environment were dated between 5469 and 5098 BC and reveal unexpectedly refined carpentry skills, the team said.

The study was conducted by archaeologists and dendrochronologists from the Institute of Forest Growth in Freiburg, the Archaeological Heritage Office of Saxony in Dresden, and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL in Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

The four early Neolithic wells were constructed from oak wood.

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 tests revealed that the wood comes from massive old oak trees felled by early Neolithic farmers with stone adzes between the years of 5206 and 5098 BC.

The farmers cleaved the trunks into boards, assembling them to make chest-like well linings with complex corner joints, and using fire to cur them to size.

Using state-of-the-art laser scanning technology, the scientists collected data on the timbers and tool marks and documented the highly developed woodworking skills of the early Neolithic settlers.

The very well-preserved tool marks and timber joints testify to unexpectedly sophisticated timber construction techniques. (ANI)

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