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Earth Science

World's Oldest Wooden Water Wells Discovered 50

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have discovered four wooden water wells in the Greater Leipzig region, Germany, which are believed to be the oldest known timber constructions in the world. A team of experts led by Willy Tegel and Dr. Dietrich Hakelberg from the Institute of Forest Growth of the University of Freiburg, Germany, uncovered the wells built during the early Neolithic period between the years 5206 and 5098 B.C." The (quite short) paper itself, and some cool pictures of the artifacts, are freely available.
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World's Oldest Wooden Water Wells Discovered

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  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:29AM (#42380617)

    Just had a look at the photos and I'm convinced this is not a first time invention. This must be the result of a lot of previous attempts, just looking at how the wooden parts are connected: pin in hole, and another pin to prevent it from falling out again. That's technology that's still being used in wood construction.

    Very likely these people were building wells and other wood constructions for quite some time already., this looks rather advanced It's just that wood doesn't preserve very well, so most will be lost by now., and we don't have any older and more primitive examples of such construction.

    No surprise though that what is found is a well, as wells are of course rather like to fill up with dirt and end up under water, preserving the wood.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @10:38AM (#42381229)

    "Dirt and water touching wood is about the worst possible combination you could have."

    Yes and no, The reason why wood degrades in the situation you are referring to is that there is a boundary layer between the dry & wet portions of the wood, giving insects, bacteria & various fungus an environment to flourish. Kind of like having a food source (corn, wheat, etc) and a water source (lake, creek, river) close together for animals. If you completely submerge the wood you remove one or more of the essential elements in making the wood a survivable environment. Think of it like locking an animal in a room with a massive amount of food, sure it will consume some of it but within a few days it'll die and the rest of will remain as long as the environment is sealed.

  • by Azghoul ( 25786 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @10:59AM (#42381343) Homepage

    I was just thinking the same thing (particularly the pinned tenon joints) and it pretty much blew my mind.

    Something good to talk about with fellow woodworking relatives over the next couple days of endless family time!

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