Tree-rings offer a special type of data for the exploration of past human and environmental interactions. At best, they offer dates for sites, constructions and artifacts to within one calendar year - an accuracy not yet possible with other dating methods. They also hold the potential for contemporary, calendar dated information on climate, ecology and trade. Tree-ring research was pioneered in the American Southwest, where it revolutionized what is known about archaeological chronology in the last 2000 years and made it possible to hypothesize relationships between climate, florescence and abandonment. In the Mediterranean, despite over four decades of data collection from a vast array of sites and time periods, the tree-ring data that could be pivotal to the study of human and environmental interactions in the cradle of civilizations is far from complete. The goal of a continuous tree-ring record anchored in the present and extending back for 8000 years still eludes us. This presentation introduces the science, potential, and current limitations for tree-ring and archaeological research in the Mediterranean region. It also presents results from two new projects which represent major steps towards improving the situation for the first millennium AD and the second millennium BC.
About the speaker:
Dr. Charlotte Pearson is a geoarchaeologist and dendrochronologist focusing on Mediterranean dendroarchaeology. She is particularly interested in how the tree-ring record can be used to examine the impact of past changes in climate and catastrophic marker events such as volcanic eruptions on human societies. She serves on the Steering committee for the Center for Mediterranean Archaeology and the Environment (CMATE) at the University of Arizona.