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Archeologists uncover 7,000-year-old wells

The Local · 20 Dec 2012, 07:45

Published: 20 Dec 2012 07:45 GMT+01:00

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Excavated earlier this year outside of Leipzig, Saxony, scientists from the University of Freiburg were able to date the wood used to line the well shafts back to between 5206 and 5098 BCE – the Early Stone Age.

The four wells, which reach seven metres into the earth and were likely used to provide a small settlement with fresh water, did not match up with what historians believed man was capable of at that time.

The discovery seemed to suggest that early settlers in the area were working with wood long before metal tools were invented, and points towards a much higher standard of living for early stone age settlers than initially thought.

Elaborate woodwork techniques made this even more apparent – the corners of the wells had been bound tight enough to survive 7,000 years underground - “it was a big surprise,” said Willy Tegel, the archeologist who headed the team.

Historians knew already that society in the area had gone through a boom period at around 5000 BCE, as hunter gathers began settling into villages. But barely anything from the era has survived, as it was mostly made from wood.

Starved of air and beneath the water level, the wooden walls of the wells somehow stood the test of time though. And now, historians are going to have to begin rethinking prior presumptions surrounding the Early Stone Age.

Story continues below…

“In reconstructions, houses from this era have probably been underestimated,” said Tegel, whose findings were first published in the academic journal PIOS ONE this week.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:47 December 20, 2012 by DocEllis
We frequently underestimate our ancestors. doc
09:31 December 20, 2012 by JDee
there is no way that wood was worked without metal tools.. look at the size of the planks in relation to the girl? It must be hardwood to have survived so long?? More likely the carbon dating is out
10:03 December 20, 2012 by BobbyBaxter
The Archeologist in the above picture looks fit.....
11:41 December 20, 2012 by michael4096
The ability of the people at this time is not in doubt. many nice wooden bowls have been preserved in mud and illustrate what was possible. As JDee says, these are very large pieces, nicely worked and represent an enormous investment in time for a very utilitarian use and hidden from view down a well. I wonder what the houses look like?

Splitting wood to approximately the correct size is relatively easy with stone axes. Smoothing the result and working the slotted joints is more interesting.

The technique commonly used, or at least one we know about, was to use hot embers from a fire to burn the bits needing removing and then use a sharp piece of flint to scrape away the burn. Patience, Grasshopper.
12:43 December 20, 2012 by wood artist
While it is true that working this wood using stone tools would be difficult, it's not impossible. Remember too that these folks had plenty of time on their hands. After all, just think how much extra time you'd have if you didn't worry about earning a paycheck, and didn't waste time surfing the net.

14:34 December 20, 2012 by mobaisch
Good job Archeologist in the picture above. You are the boss! you diggin?
15:09 December 20, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
Wow…. in my two years reading this blog, these are the most interesting remarks ever. (Seriously, not sarcastically.) Thanks!

If I survive the end of the world tomorrow or the impending Zombie Holocaust I will now know how to work wood. (LOL!)

They say native Americans used the ¦quot;burning¦quot; method to make their canoes out of solid tree trunks, too. This method must have been ¦quot;obvious¦quot; to primitive tribes?
16:19 December 20, 2012 by michael4096
A current theory says that at least one migration to north America were by people who originated from, or about the same time migrated to, Europe. As we're only talking a few thousand years before this well was built it is quite possible that the woodworking technology originated in the same place and traveled to NA with them.
19:46 December 20, 2012 by Vladd222
" scientists from the University of Freiburg were able to date the wood used to line the well shafts back to between 5206 and 5098 BCE ­ the Early Stone Age."

Hardly the Early Stone Age! This was already the copper age - which followed the Late Stone Age.
20:05 December 20, 2012 by DOZ
Where there is Chalk, there is Flint
20:38 December 20, 2012 by septiSeverus
@ SchwabHallRocks

Sorry to disappoint.

@DocEllis, @michael4096, @Vladd222

Woodworking technology?

7,000 years or 5,000 years ago. Stone age, copper age or middle earth age. Civilizations In china, south america and africa could read and write.

Its time for germany to return queen Nefertiti back to africa. Replace it with the most recent underestimated find from Leipzig. Which demonstrates one of the many stone age accomplishments in europe.
22:53 December 20, 2012 by trevzns
Like the archeologists in the middle east. Keep digging in europe. There is always hope and who knows? The missing fragments from the dead sea scrolls may turn up in the uk, hungary or germany? The holly unnamed one works in mysterious ways.
00:12 December 21, 2012 by Vladd222

Some things never change! They had trolls 7,000 years ago - and you're still here!
01:51 December 21, 2012 by septiSeverus

Good to know the protectors of european culture. The illusionist and pretenders are doing what they do best.

Get over it and move on with life.
03:01 December 21, 2012 by Vladd222

Get a LIfe!
04:19 December 21, 2012 by septiSeverus
@Vladd222 #15

Happy to know you understand there are some people paying attention. The more you dig, the deeper you go into the abyss of cultural reality. Many of your discoveries will be difficult to comprehend.

Welcome to the real world and humanity.
12:50 December 21, 2012 by michael4096
@septiSeverus - a couple of clarifications

1. Copper was first used for jewelry and coins before this time, you are correct. It is highly likely that the people building this well had bits of copper jewelry knocking about. However, copper was useless for building wells, the subject of this piece and it wasn't until copper alloys such as bronze were developed some thousand or so years later than our well that woodworking lost its high tech magic. When you dismiss woodworking so lightly, you are applying today's thoughts to historical times - a historian's no-no.

2. Reading and writing depends on what you define it to be. Transferring ideas with symbols was around in Europe over 10,000 years before our well. We can still read them from Lascaux for example. However, the usual definition of writing is the transferring of general abstract concepts via symbols was developed some thousand years or so after our well. I assume that you have your own self-serving definition of writing between the two.

3. The date Nefertiti lived was closer to today's date than that of our well. Totally off topic.
11:50 December 22, 2012 by Yontrop
"...scientists from the University of Freiburg were able to date the wood used to line the well shafts back to between 5206 and 5098 BCE ­ the Early Stone Age."

It does seem that the article has confused "early" and "late" stone age. Maybe it happened in translation.

"Historians knew already that society in the area had gone through a boom period at around 5000 BCE, as hunter gathers began settling into villages."

That can't be "Early Stone Age". Like I said, it must be a translation error.
02:27 December 23, 2012 by septiSeverus

Historians no-no? Whose his-story are you attempting to convey?

What became of the transferring of ideas and Lascaux symbols when the romans and africans arrived occupied britannia and northern europe? Whether it was 10,000 years ago, 7,000 years, 4,000 years or 2,000 years ago. As I said, the chinese, african and central american civilizations had scripts, math and science.

Oh. Off our well topic and on a topic. Nefertiti was and still is of african culture and heritage.
05:20 December 23, 2012 by itchyvet
Oh Dear, here we go again, people trying to fit their findings into existing beliefs, whether those beliefs are factual appears to be irellevant.

People too, have forgotten the "ICE MAN" discovered not too long ago, which FORCED many to recant their beliefs and change the history books.

I suspect we don't know the half of it,m as much of history was DELIBERATELY destroyed in days long gone by, and we were far more advanced and technologicaly knowledgeable then todays alleged experts claim.

For example, check out the hype we are fed dail regarding dinosuars, first they were cold blooded, then we are told Hmmm, maybe the were warm blooded, then we're told they had tough leathery hides, later recanted to tell us many of them were feathered. LOL. C'mon people, get real. If this well exhibits excellent carpentry work, maybe that;s because these folks were expert carpenters. Check out the communities in the U.S. who work and live without electricity, (the Amish) they are excellent carpenters, so who's to say these folks were not either?
15:44 December 23, 2012 by doggiebone
Suggest reading Dr. Mitten's book, "After the Ice".

Good archeology/historical book of the world including Europe.
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