An ancient oak water well from 7,275 years ago was unearthed in the Czech Republic and is the world’s oldest wooden structure that’s ever been found. Experts used a tree-ring dating technique in order to determine that the well dated back to the Neolithic Period or the end of the Stone Age.
“According to our findings, based particularly on dendrochronological data, we can say that the tree trunks for the wood used were felled in the years 5255 and 5256 BCE,” said archaeologist Jaroslav Peška from the Archaeological Centre Olomouc in the Czech Republic. He went on to explain, “The rings on the trunks enable us to give a precise estimate, give [or] take one year, as to when the trees were felled.”
The well was unearthed during the construction of the D35 motorway near the town of Ostrov in 2018. An archaeological team excavated the square-shaped well and found that it had four oak poles with flat planks placed in between them as well as a shaft that was able to extend below the ground to retrieve the water. The well measured 80 cm by 80 cm and stood 4.6 feet tall. By being in waterlogged conditions under the ground, it was in surprisingly good shape with the marks still visible from the stone tools that were used to shape the pieces. Pictures of the well and the excavation site can be seen here.
In their study which was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science (and can be read in full here), the researchers said, “The design consists of grooved corner posts with inserted planks.” They went on to explain, “This type of construction reveals advanced technical know-how and, till now, is the only known type from this region and time period,” adding, “The shape of the individual structural elements and tool marks preserved on their surface confirm sophisticated carpentry skills.”
Peška also weighed in by stating, “It bears marks of construction techniques used in the Bronze and Iron ages and even the Roman Age. We had no idea that the first farmers, who only had tools made of stone, bones, horns, or wood, were able to process the surface of felled trunks with such precision.”
Ceramic fragments were found inside of the well that date back to the early Neolithic Period. Oddly enough, there hasn’t been any remains found of an ancient settlement in that exact area which suggests that the well served numerous settlements that were located nearby.
Peška said that the well’s construction was quite unique and that “We believe it was used by settlers during what we call the Neolithic Revolution, during a transition from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlements.”