Woodland Management Practices in Bronze Age, Bruszczewo, Poland

The article presents a study of wood excavated from archaeological site in Poland (2100–1650 BC). The large amount of collected samples created a unique opportunity for research because the subfossil wood was in very good preservation state. This made it possible to carry out dendrotypological analysis. This is the first such study conducted for Early Bronze Age timber originating from Poland. The main goal of the study was to determine whether the presence of strong and abrupt reductions and releases of growth, observed within tree-ring sequences, is due to natural stand dynamics, results from the influence of extreme environmental factors or whether they should be linked to specific silvicultural practices already known in ancient times. Another purpose of the study was to determine the type of forest management techniques applied to the trees growing in Bruszczewo site. The research was conducted using the dendrochronological method. In addition to the measurements of growth-ring width, the development of earlywood and latewood zones, the proportion of sapwood and the presence of specific features of tree trunks were analysed. A detailed study allowed identifying the samples originating from coppiced and shredded trees. A characteristic feature of the trees subjected to these silvicultural practices is the presence of strong and abrupt reductions and releases of growth. Moreover, coppiced trees were specified by the large proportion of sapwood in the cross-section of the stem, reduced number of sapwood rings, small and numerous earlywood vessels, diminished earlywood vessels area. In turn, shredded trees distinguished themselves by a strong reduction in the earlywood width in the years following the shredding event. The research of archaeological wood from the ancient settlement proves that during the Early Bronze Age various forest management techniques were used in this site. These treatments were aimed at improving the quality and quantity of the raw material harvested from forest areas


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