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Ancient Wooden Structure Found was Used for Supernatural Rituals

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  • Aug 11, 2021

The Noceto Vasca Votiva is a unique wooden structure that was excavated in 2005 on a small hill in northern Italy. It is constructed mainly of oak wood and its size is slightly larger than a backyard swimming pool. Till date it’s still a mystery what purpose does the structure in the ground exactly served. Italian researchers estimate that its origin is dated back to the late Middle Bronze Age, somewhere between 1600 and 1300 BC. While that gap doesn't seem huge, but archaeologically it's like comparing the generation that invented the steam engine to the generation that produced the iPad. A Cornell University team, led by Sturt Manning, an eminent professor of classical arts and sciences and director at Tree-Ring Laboratory, used dendrochronology and a form of radiocarbon dating called "wiggle matching" to have a 95% probability of the years in which the two main components of the structure were reportedly built. According to them, the lower tank was built in 1444 BC and the upper tank in 1432 BC. The margin of error for each date is about four years. The researchers in their findings confirmed that the structure was built during the pivotal change in societal culture and was used for a supernatural water ritual.

Manning has headed the Tree-Ring Laboratory since 2006, and his team has advanced a variety of tools and techniques that have successfully challenged common assumptions about historical artifacts and timelines. One of the specialties of the laboratory is the tree ring sequenced radiocarbon "wiggle matching", where ancient wooden objects are dated by matching the radiocarbon isotope patterns from their annual growth increments (tree rings) with pattern of datasets found in other parts of the world. This facilitates them for providing precise carbon dating even when continuous tree-ring pattern for a particular species and geographic area are not available. “When working on an archaeological site, one often tries to do a dendrochronology with relatively few samples perform, sometimes in under less than ideal conditions because they have recently been crumbling 3,500 years before you see them. It's not like a healthy tree growing in the wild,” Manning said. His team often measure the samples multiple times in to order extract as much signal as possible from them.

The Noceto Vasca Votiva is approximately 12 meters long, 7 meters wide, and approximately four meters deep. The depth was a little unclear at first, and when the site was fully excavated, researchers discovered that there was another tank under the structure which was built first but it got collapsed before completion. It was initially unclear how much time passed between the creations of the two tanks, some of which shared the same materials.