Sorting the Trees: The Role of Laurus nobilis in the Woodland Management Practices at La Draga (Banyoles, Spain)

Oriol López-Bultó, Patrick Gassmann, Ingrid Bertin, Raquel Piqué

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Resum

It is suggested that woodland management (e.g. pollarding, pruning, or coppicing) was practiced from at least the Neolithic onwards. The goal of this work is to discuss woodland management practices in the Early Neolithic waterlogged site of La Draga (5300–4700 cal BC, Banyoles, Spain). To date, different methods and techniques (dendrochronology, roundwood age and diameter, dendrology, etc.) have been applied to address this issue, and some preliminary results have been obtained. However, recent excavations have yielded new wooden archaeological materials which help to approach this issue from another point of view: the presence of scars on the wood surface. For the first time at La Draga, it was possible to identify scars on the wood surface of piles caused by tool marks and partially or totally covered by wound wood ribs, indicating that the trees were marked before being cut down. The marked piles have been identified as laurel (Laurus nobilis) or bay tree, which is well documented at the site (firewood, instruments, and piles), although it played a secondary role after the oak. However, laurel was rarely exploited during the Neolithic in Europe, which poses the question of the intentional selection of this wood at La Draga.

This paper presents the results of a morphological, technological, and dendrological study of laurel piles in the context of the wooden remains of the La Draga site. The results of the different approaches are summarised and contrasted to provide new insights into Neolithic woodland management in Europe. Moreover, the role of laurel trees in the context of the Neolithic is discussed.
Idioma originalEnglish
Pàgines (de-a)329-348
Nombre de pàgines20
RevistaInternational Journal of Wood Culture
Volum3
Número3
DOIs
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 28 de març 2023

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