Principles of Dendroarchaeological Dating

Dendrochronology is the science of dating and analyzing annual growth rings in trees.  Its first significant application was in the archaeological dating of the ancient Indian pueblos of the southwestern United States (Douglass 1921, 1929).  Andrew E. Douglass is considered the “father” of dendrochronology, and his numerous early publications concentrated on the application of tree-ring data for archaeological dating.  Douglass established the connection between annual ring width variability and annual climate variability, which is responsible for the establishment of precisely dated wood material (Douglass 1909, 1920, 1928; Stokes and Smiley 1968; Fritts 1976; Cook and Kariukstis 1990).  Since 1921, dendrochronological methods, first developed by Douglass, have been perfected and employed throughout North America, Europe, and much of the temperate forest zones of the globe (Edwards 1982; Holmes 1983; Stahle and Wolfman 1985; Krusic and Cook 2001).  In Europe, where the dating of buildings and artifacts is as much a profession as a science, the history of tree-ring dating is tremendous  (Baillie 1982; Eckstein 1978; Eckstein 1984).