Title: Estimation of wood use in a Roman Imperial city
Authors: Janssen, Ellen
Muys, Bart
Poblome, Jeroen
Issue Date: 2014
Host Document: Towards a more accurate quantification of human - environment interactions in the past pages:33-33
Conference: Open PAGES Focus 4 Workshop Human-Climate-Ecosystem Interactions location:University of Leuven date:3-7 February 2014
Abstract: Wood has been humankind’s first source of energy and was by far the most important fuel and an important material for construction during classical antiquity. The Roman Imperial city of Sagalassos, situated in the Taurus Mountains in Southwestern Anatolia, Turkey, has known a long history of intense human activity that had a strong impact on the surrounding forests through the harvesting of wood, land conversion and livestock grazing. Current forests in the Taurus Mountains are heavily degraded but the timing and driving forces of past deforestations are under debate. In order to better understand the effect of wood resources extraction on past deforestation and forest degradation in the territory of ancient Sagalassos, we want to estimate the amount of wood used in and around this Roman Imperial city. For this purpose we are developing a calculation tool estimating the total wood use in a given period, both for energy (e.g. heating, cooking, firing of kilns,…) and non-energy purposes (e.g. construction, carpentry, …). This tool will be made available for archaeologists who can run it in their specific research regions and periods, based on included default values or using specific values derived from their research (e.g. population size, wall thickness of houses, temperature of baths, presence of kilns, …). Based on thermodynamic laws, calorific values and efficiency rates, an estimation is provided of the amount of wood used within one year. Later on, the tool can also be expanded for application in other historic settlements. Because quantitative information on ancient population, architecture, technology and lifestyle is rather scarce and uncertain, input values will consist of ranges. In order to take this uncertainty and variability into account, a Monte Carlo procedure will be included, offering a range of possible outcomes and probabilities. The results of this tool for different periods in history can then be used as input in forest succession models providing insight in the long-term availability of wood for the ancient society of Sagalassos and the sustainability of their natural resources use. In this contribution we present the blueprint for such a calculation tool, and illustrate its functioning and possible outcome with a preliminary submodule for ancient pottery production
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
Archaeology, Leuven

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