It is often presumed that woodland management, i.e. pollarding and coppicing, was practised in prehistory, but the precise beginning and the details of such practices in the past are unknown. This is because, in contrast to historical times, from which written and iconographic sources are available, prehistoric archaeological sites rarely yield direct evidence of intentional woodland management. Since it is regularly suggested that people practised woodland management at least from the Neolithic onwards, this study brings together data for wood assemblages from six Neolithic sites in Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain, with the aim of investigating whether these provide evidence of woodland management. The method applied here is roundwood age and diameter analysis, based on an earlier developed model that has been tested on modern trees. None of the investigated European Neolithic sites provides evidence of woodland management. Various possible explanations for this outcome are discussed.
- Woodland management
- Wood production by early farmers
- Pollarding and coppicing
- Branch and trunk age/diameter analysis
- Diameter selection