Archaeology Meets Dendrochronology


Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, is the science of analyzing and dating annual growth rings in trees. Rings result from the change in growth through the seasons of the year and one ring usually marks the passage of one year in the life of the tree. There is a connection between annual ring size and annual climate and this allows dendrochronologists to precisely date trees and, an important detail for archaeologists, it allows them to date objects MADE FROM trees. As a matter of fact, in many types of wood, dendrochronology can date tree rings to an exact calendar year. So, can dendrochronologist Paul Krusic, from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, precisely date the wood that makes up the ship parts from the WORLD TRADE CENTER SHIP? Well, he’s gonna try. Paul was at the MAC Lab earlier this month to examine the wood and begin his analysis. Precise dating might not be possible because the outer most ring (the one closest to the bark) is needed to determine an exact date and the wood that constructed the ship has been cut and shaped and may have lost that outer ring. We are hopeful though and can’t wait to hear what Paul has to say when his study is completed!


Paul Krusic is also a visiting research scientist at Stockholm University in Sweden.