We have to thank dendrochronology. What is that? It is the technique that allows to know the age of a tree from its rings. It is what has allowed to date with great accuracy the age of a wooden well found in Ostrov, Czech Republic. They were building a highway. Suddenly, a buried and forgotten wooden structure appeared. At first it seemed to be a kind of blackish wooden box. Then it was discovered that it was an old well. The wooden well of 7 thousand years.
A long, long time ago
The research has just been published in the "Journal of Archaeological Science." It reveals that the wooden planks that were used to build the well come from a tree that was carved 7,275 years ago. There are several wells of a similar age. But none has been dated with a technique as reliable as the one used here.
«The trunks of the trees from which the wood was removed were cut in the years 5255 and 5256 BC. We rely on dendrochronological data, ”Jaroslav Peška explained in a statement. He is one of the authors of the study and researcher at the Olomuc Archaeological Center (Czech Republic). "Tree rings allow us to make an accurate estimate, year up or year down, by the time the trees were cut down."
When the well was discovered, in 2018, researchers found fragments of early Neolithic pottery. In the surroundings no evidence of settlements or structures was found. It led them to think that the well could be exploited by several distant enclaves.
Good with wood
Luckily, the wood proved more enlightening. It was noted that the well consisted of four oak posts, located in the corners. They are joined by plates that rose several centimeters above ground level. Despite the age of the wood, its state of preservation allowed us to observe marks of the use of sophisticated stone tools.
"The construction of the 7,000-year-old wooden well is unique," said Peška. «It presents brands of techniques used during the Bronze, Iron and even Roman times. These first farmers only had tools of stone, bones, horns or wood. And they were able to process the surface of logs cut precisely.
It is not the only one, but it is unique
The technique of carbon 14 allowed to establish the date on which the trees grew. Interestingly, they found out that two of the posts come from plants cut down before. They were probably used for something else. In addition, one of the plates is more recent, suggesting that it was placed as part of a repair.
Around 40 other wooden wells with a similar or even higher age are known in Europe. But no dating is as accurate as this.