Timber resources, transport and woodworking techniques in post-medieval Andalusia (Spain): Insights from dendroarchaeological research on historic roof structures

Publication date: July 2018Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 95
Author(s): Marta Domínguez-Delmás, Sjoerd van Daalen, Reyes Alejano-Monge, Tomasz Wazny
We present the results of dendroarchaeological investigations carried out on roof structures from two historic buildings in the Andalusian region (south of Spain). The Jaen cathedral, and the Colegial del Salvador church in Seville were both built on the sites of medieval mosques after centuries of using the Islamic buildings for Christian worship. Jaen cathedral contains roof structures dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, whereas those of the Colegial del Salvador were completed between 1703 CE and 1709. Historical sources report that wood from the Cazorla and Segura Mountains, located in the east of the region, was used in the construction of both buildings. Therefore they represent excellent case studies to investigate the supply of timber for construction purposes in post-medieval times, including aspects such as the transport of timber and the evolution of woodworking techniques throughout the centuries.During the inspection of the roof structures, we found different assembly marks in the 16th century roof of Jaen cathedral, and distinct tool marks in all researched structures. Furthermore, at the Colegial del Salvador church we found reused timbers and material evidence for historical rafting of timbers in the Guadalquivir river. We discuss these finds and compare them with parallels of other Spanish and European regions. The research also resulted in the successful dating of all construction phases of Jaen cathedral, confirming the historical information and the dating potential of chronologies of black pine from the Cazorla and Segura Mountains. At the Colegial del Salvador church only two timbers could be dated, demonstrating the complexity of the organization of timber supply for this building at the turn of the 18th century, and highlighting the need to continue developing reference chronologies at different elevations throughout the region.