The Use of Timber in ancient Times


Modern archaeological researches are increasingly supplemented with the data obtained with the help of natural methods, such as by determining the tree species on the coals and timber. In the laboratory studies they determined timber breeds and charcoals in the uneven in age cultural layers of settlements situated on the Abrau peninsula.
The objects of the study were samples of the cultural layers of settlements of various nature areas of the Abrau Peninsula: a seaside – the Myskhako settlement, piedmont – settlements Andreeva Schel, Glebovka, Tsemdolina, Rayevski IV, VII, XII, Dubki; the Rayevski Hillfort. The bulk of the settlement is dated to the early Iron Age and the ancient times, the Myskhako settlement ‒ Chalcolithic and antiquity barrow Rayevski ‒ Bronze Age. So, the whole complex of the studied material is varied not only geographically but also chronologically. Such large-scale scientific studies using this method for the first time were held in Russia.
In all the villages the main timber species, which were used daily, was an oak tree. A high proportion of endemic shrubs (including juniper) points to a large-scale deforestation in the region, when the forests did not have enough time to grow, and the residents were forced to use shoots, which grew in wasteland and logging. This conclusion correlates well with a high population density, a dense network of identified settlements.
The second important conclusion is that the prevalence of plain timber species and the high proportion of shrubs. Obviously, such a structure of the wood flora was typical for the region on the whole.
It is safe to talk about the intense ecological impacts on all the explored landscapes at all times of economic activities of the man. The most explored to date is antique times. The abundance of the obtained ancient data material clearly indicate to large-scale felling, forming a fundamentally new treeless open landscapes, which are to some extent due to the ongoing economic activities preserved to this day. Used as local timber (oak, elm, hornbeam) and imported (pine), which were convincingly demonstrated by the example of the material in the Rayevsky settlement.

(Alexandra A. Gol’eva)