4000 Years and Still Standing: The Timeless Strength of Oak

Over 70 years ago huge earth work projects around modern-day Armenia were undertaken to irrigate the huge spanning Ararat Plain. The monumental excavations and diverted water courses generated a substantial drop in lake water levels, uncovering  monumental archaeological discoveries.
Situated on the boarder of Lake Sevan, Lchashen, pristine four and two wheeled wagons were unearthed, along with two wheeled chariots that had spoked wheels. An amazing feat and story in itself for man, but an even greater achievement for the Oakwood which they were made from dating back to 2000 B.C – That’s over 4000 years ago!

Today, these prized anthropological treasures are displayed in the Armenian National Museum in impeccable condition.

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The Lchashen wagons are made of just oakwood and is the oldest known wagons in the worldIt was built by Lchashen-Metsamor Culture (aka Etiuni) and was found in excellent condition¹. The yoke shows that it had been pulled by oxen.

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There are more than 500 species of oak treesThe most common oak tree varieties are White Oak, Black Oak, Red Oak and Willow Oak.

The reason for Oak’s impeccable strength is because it is from slow-growing trees, typically in colder climates, which means the trees’ cellular structure is denser compared to faster-growing softwoods. Oak is also a perfect timber to use for commercial and residential use as it is so durable and impermeable, which is why it has been used for centuries to build such things as ships, churches and barrels – and of course, carts and chariots!

Oak is a hardwood. This distinction doesn’t refer to a wood’s ability to resist damage, it has to do with whether the wood came from a dicot or gymnosperm treeGenerally, hardwoods are naturally resistant to decay and fungal attackDue to its compact structure and long-lived nature, external elements do not affect the Oak species.

Oak can be sustainably sourced; Forest stewards manage the landscape to prevent damage to wildlife, watersheds and other forest ecosystems. One of the key reasons that green oak is deemed to be one of the most environmentally responsible and sustainably viable materials is due to the low embodied energy usedThis is the amount of energy needed to bring the material to use, including extraction, transport, and then disposal.

Oak sleepers are an excellent choice for a wide range of construction projects. They are incredibly strong and durable, and can be used to create everything from fences, retaining walls to decks and patios.

Oak has been used throughout history for various purposes such as shipbuilding, furniture making, and construction. The biggest ever recorded English Oak tree, the Newlands Oak, reached a breath-taking size, with a trunk measuring 13+ meters around when it fell. Today’s biggest Oak tree lives in Sherwood Forest (UK), with a girth of 10 meters, weighing 23 tons and is an estimated 800 to 1000 years old. Oak wood is remarkably sturdy and lasts for the ages, literally.

Reclaimed Oak railway sleepers are likely to last for at least 25 years as long as they are not buried in the ground or submerged in water.

Used Oak railway sleepers were previously used to support railway tracks. They are often reclaimed and reused for various purposes, such as landscaping, civil construction and architectural features. They have a rustic and natural look that can add character and charm to any project. Some of the things that can be achieved by using used Oak railway sleepers are:

These are just some of the possible ideas. You can use your imagination and creativity to come up with more ways to use used Oak railway sleepers and see how they stand against the test of time for decades to come.