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Wood resource management based on charcoals from the Bronze Age site of Gegharot (central Armenia)

Abstract : Excavations conducted at the site of Gegharot in north central Armenia, along the northeastern margin of the Tsaghkahovit Plain (Aragatsotn region) have produced a large quantity of well-preserved charcoals. With occupations dating to the Early and Late Bronze Age, the site has been excavated since 2000 under the supervision of R. Badalyan and A.T. Smith under the auspices of the joint Armenian-American Project ArAGATS. The examination of the wood anatomy along three sections under a reflected light microscope, necessary for the identifications of charcoals, was systematically undertaken completed with the observation of the ligneous structure on transverse sections using a stereomicroscope. This dendrological approach provides valuable data for aiding identification of which part of the tree used, recording growth ring width, estimating wood diameter, and ascertaining the state of the wood before carbonization. Different vegetational biotopes were identified from remains of the Early Bronze Age layers at the site: an open woodland with heliophilic shrubs (birch, maple, willow and Pomoideae), an open forest formation with notably oak with maple and ash trees and a wet zone with willows and ash trees. The estimated diameters of the wood used at that time did not exceed 12 cm. The wood collection from the Late Bronze Age levels indicates a pine and oak forest surrounded by open areas where birch trees and Pomoideae grew and wetlands with willow trees and elm as riparian forests. The onset of a colder and drier climate could be the cause of the disappearance of the ash trees, the appearance of oak pine forests and the reduced growth of the tree-ring width. The taxa list and the high frequency of the small diameters observed during both occupations can refer to a local woodland exploitation. According to the observation of the last ring before the bark, evidence from a single operation (T21), during the Late Bronze Age testifies to seasonal activities. Some large charcoals of pine or oak had exceptional long series of more than 60 tree-rings. The average curve built on the basis of the oak series has a length of 72 rings, the beginning of a tree-ring series building in Armenia for the Bronze Age. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 4:17:00 PM
Last modification on : Monday, July 20, 2020 - 1:06:06 PM

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Fany Jude, Dominique Marguerie, Ruben Badalyan, Adam T. Smith, Ann Delwaide. Wood resource management based on charcoals from the Bronze Age site of Gegharot (central Armenia). Quaternary International, Elsevier, 2016, 395, pp.31-44. ⟨10.1016/j.quaint.2015.04.019⟩. ⟨hal-01395322⟩

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