Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells

Dec 19, 2012
This image shows Neolithic wooden water wells. Credit: Citation: Tegel W, Elburg R, Hakelberg D, Stauble H, Buntgen U (2012) Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World’s Oldest Wood Architecture. PLOS ONE 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. The research published December 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 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 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.

Explore further: Digging up the 'Spanish Vikings'

More information: Tegel W, Elburg R, Hakelberg D, Stauble H, Buntgen U (2012) Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture. PLOS ONE 7(12): e51374.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051374

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

DNA reveals Neolithic farmers' near Eastern affinities

Nov 15, 2010

During an international research project, scientists from the Institute of Anthropology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Adelaide worked with a number of additional partners to research the ...

Neolithic man: The first lumberjack?

Aug 09, 2012

During the Neolithic Age (approximately 10000 BCE), early man evolved from hunter-gatherer to farmer and agriculturalist, living in larger, permanent settlements with a variety of domesticated animals and ...

DNA reveals origins of first European farmers

Nov 09, 2010

A team of international researchers led by ancient DNA experts from the University of Adelaide has resolved the longstanding issue of the origins of the people who introduced farming to Europe some 8000 years ...

Recommended for you

Digging up the 'Spanish Vikings'

8 hours ago

The fearsome reputation of the Vikings has made them the subject of countless exhibitions, books and films - however, surprisingly little is known about their more southerly exploits in Spain.

Short-necked Triassic marine reptile discovered in China

Dec 17, 2014

A new species of short-necked marine reptile from the Triassic period has been discovered in China, according to a study published December 17, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xiao-hong Chen f ...

Gothic cathedrals blend iron and stone

Dec 17, 2014

Using radiocarbon dating on metal found in Gothic cathedrals, an interdisciplinary team has shown, for the first time through absolute dating, that iron was used to reinforce stone from the construction phase. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.