Wood and charcoal

The identification of wood is of great importance to archaeological research because wood was one of the most important raw materials in prehistoric and early historical times. From a biological point of view the anatomical study of wood can provide information on vegetation history.

Wood technology and woodworking can be ascertained in many cases by studying the surface patterns of the sampled wood. Past communities used wood for a multitude of purposes, from the building they dwelt in to the tools, kitchen utensils and furniture used within and without those buildings. Analysis of the wood chosen for each purpose can contribute to an understanding of past societies - their rituals, social interactions and relationship with their environment.

Charcoal is wood in its burnt or charred state, reduced almost totally to its elemental carbon. The analysis of charcoal can contribute to a range of studies, including identification and reconstruction of woodland management practices and deforestation processes, reconstruction of past woodland dynamics, trade patterns and, of course, it can be used for radiocarbon dating.