Publication details

Wood species utilization for timber constructions in the Czech lands over the period 1400–1900



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Dendrochronologia
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Central Europe; Cultural heritage; Dendrochronology; Historical buildings; Historical wood utilization; Wood properties
Description Longstanding demographic growth accompanied by rising settlement activities and development of industry led to an increasing demand on utilization of wood. Tree species were selected for their specific properties. As a consequence of regional differences of forest species composition, wood has become an extremely important trade commodity. Therefore, the utilization of individual species could substantially change in space and time. In this study, we use 8´135 precisely dated timber constructions from a dendrochronological database to investigate spatio-temporal changes in wood utilization across the Czech lands from the 15th to the 19th century. Our results suggest that the utilization of individual species in historical timber constructions was primarily limited by their availability. Species selection was also based on wood properties and stem geometry. Most of historical constructions (99.7%), represented mainly by roofs and ceilings, are made of fir, spruce, pine, and oak. While fir constructions prevail in eastern Moravia and Silesia, spruce constructions are largely spread across the western and central part of the Czech Republic. Pine and oak constructions reflect natural occurrence of such forests in lower elevated central Bohemia and southern Moravia. Although fir prevailed in timber construction in the late-Medieval and post-Medieval times, planting of spruce monocultures resulted in its significantly increased utilization by the end of the 19th century. This study demonstrates the value of dendrochronological databases as an indicator of historical wood utilization.

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