CORDIS - EU research results

Exploring Prehispanic woodworking technologies in the isolated context of the Canary Islands: Innovative and adaptive responses

Project description

Woodworking technologies and human adaptation

The Canary Islands remained isolated after the settlement of Berber agropastoral groups from north Africa some 2 000 years ago and the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century. The first settlers adapted to local raw material availability that lacked metal ores, developing volcanic lithic technologies and woodcraft. The EU-funded WoodTRACES project will apply an innovative interdisciplinary approach combining archaeobotanical research and experimental archaeology with tool-mark and wear analyses and pioneering methodologies like 3D scanner. The project will test the hypothesis that the study of woodworking technology can reveal new insights into the human adaptation process to environments lacking metal tools and biogeographical differences, contributing to sustainable cultural tourism based on perishable archaeological heritage.


The Canary Islands were first settled approximately 2,000 years ago by Berber agropastoral groups from North Africa, remaining isolated in the archipelago until Europeans arrived in the 15th century CE. These populations had to adapt to the local raw material availability, which lacked metal ores, and thus developed volcanic lithic technologies and woodcraft in an insular environment. Yet, how did this adaptation process succeed despite the lack of metal ores? Which stone tools replaced metal tools in producing woodworking technologies across different islands? What were wooden artefacts used for? Considering the exceptional preservation of desiccated wooden artefacts from this region, WoodTRACES seeks to test the hypothesis that the study of woodworking technology can shed new light on the human adaptation process in response to the lack of metal tools and to the biogeographical differences between islands. Advancement of new knowledge regarding this unparalleled issue will provide meaningful data about human innovation/resilience in contexts of isolation and sudden reduction of technological optionality. WoodTRACES will undertake a novel interdisciplinary approach combining the broad archaeobotanical expertise of the candidate with a deep training in experimental archaeology, tool-mark and wear analyses, and cutting-edge methodologies (e.g. 3D scanner, SEM). Inter-sectoral transfer of knowledge, by collaborating with archaeological museums and archives, will be also attained. Training during this project will enable the candidate to meet future challenges in archaeobotanical heritage, endorsed by the H2020 Societal Challenge of ‘Europe in a Changing World – Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies’. Following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN, results of WoodTRACES will contribute to stimulating sustainable cultural tourism in the Canary Islands based on perishable archaeological heritage.


Net EU contribution
€ 203 149,44
4051 Basel

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Nordwestschweiz Basel-Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 203 149,44