Still remembering an awe-inspiring experimental weekend at Buckler’s Hard in New Forest few years ago, encompassing old-style timber conversion with prehistoric and medieval tools under the guidance of Dr. Damian Goodburn, my proposal to invite him as guest speaker to our graduate school’s bi-weekly colloquium was accepted. On 13. February, finally, the Museum of London’s woodwork specialist visited Kiel to give a lecture on the topic “How Selected Boat & Ship Finds and Timber Structures can Help us Reconstruct Ancient Extinct Wooded Landscapes”.
What has maritime archaeology actually to do with landscapes? Terribly much! Forestry – or the management of woodlands – is not a modern practise. Particularly the choice of timber in terms of species and growth patterns highlights its importance for ancient shipbuilding – be it compass timber from crutches for knees or planks from cleft logs – the highly selective use of timber has been a striking feature throughout the ages. The quality and workmanship are a direct reflection of the local economy, the availability of resources, cost-benefit assessments and – not least – of the cultural tradition and social affiliation. Apart from the significance of early arboricultural pracises for ancient shipbuilding, the findings of maritime and wetland archaeologists are highly relevant to other scientists dealing with ancient landscapes, amongst other, paleao-botanists and archaeologists in general, for ancient wood can only survive in waterlogged conditions – sealed off in an anearobic milieu und thus relatively unharmed by biological deterioation processes. Damian’s paper dealt with a multitude of these aspects from a diachronic perspective and regional case studies across Europe. His abstract can be found here.