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Tests Suggest Ancient Romans Imported Wood from France

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Rome Imported WoodROME, ITALY—According to an Inside Science report, analysis of planks discovered in the waterlogged foundation of an ancient villa unearthed near the Tiber River in central Rome indicates that the wood was imported from France. Dendrochronologist Mauro Bernabei of Italy’s National Research Council said the 13-foot-long planks’ growth rings indicate that four of the trees were more than 250 years old when they were felled, and their growth patterns match those of trees known to have grown in the Jura Mountains of northeastern France, more than 1,000 miles away from Rome. Analysis of sapwood found in some of the planks suggests the trees were cut down between A.D. 40 and 60. The wood was likely to have been transported down the Saône and Rhône rivers to the Mediterranean Sea, and then up the Tiber River to Rome, where the demand for high-quality wood is likely to have depleted local trees. “The timber found in other important sites—Pompeii, Herculaneum—may be of foreign origin,” Bernabei added. To read about one of the Roman Empire's key ports, go to "France's Roman Heritage."

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