| 93 view(s) | 2022/09/02
Due to the perfect conservation of all organic materials within the prehistoric salt mines of Hallstatt, Austria, large amounts of wooden finds, which are rare at other archaeological sites, have been excavated here. A substantial number of wooden items was investigated by applying wood species identification and tree ring analyses.
We determined 15 different wood species: fir (Abies alba), spruce (Picea abies), larch (Larix decidua), yew (Taxus baccata), beech (Fagus sylvatica), maple (Acer spp.), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), oak (Quercus spp.), alder (Alnus glutinosa), Sorbus species (rowanberry, whitebeam, true service tree, wild service tree) (Sorbus spp.), hazel (Corylus avellana), linden (Tilia spp.), willow (Salix spp.), woolly Snowball (Viburnum lantana), elm (Ulmus spp.).
The mine timber is dominated by spruce and fir. Furthermore, beech, maple, ash and larch were found. The bins and buckets were dominated by fir. A similar picture was also found for the lighting chips - almost exclusively made of fir wood. For the tools, shovels and spoons more hardwood was found: beech, ash, maple and oak. The carved wooden hollow ware was dominated by maple and alder.
Based on the findings of the wood identification, on special findings like the overgrown stumps and the tree ring measurements we discuss the Bronze Age wood use, forest utilization and management. Our findings allow for important insights into prehistoric forest management. Thus, we were able to: i) demonstrate that the stem of fir tree was used in its entirety, ii) to reconstruct the stem utilization scheme for fir, iii) identify seasonal activity patterns as the harvesting of trees during the dormant season, and iv) exclude large scale clear cutting.
In conclusion, it is clearly evident that the Bronze Age Hallstatt mining community possessed sophisticated foresting and wood working skills.