Applied Physics A

, 123:431 | Cite as

Non-invasive dendrochronology of late-medieval objects in Oslo: refinement of a technique and discoveries

Article
  • 221 Downloads
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Innovation in Art Research and Technology

Abstract

A technique for non-invasive dendrochronological analysis of oak was developed for archaeological material, using an industrial CT scanner. Since 2013, this experience has been extended within the scope of the research project ‘After the Black Death: Painting and Polychrome Sculpture in Norway’. The source material for the project is a collection of late-medieval winged altarpieces, shrines, polychrome sculpture, and fragments from Norwegian churches, which are owned by the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. The majority cannot be sampled, and many are too large to fit into the CT scanner. For these reasons, a combined approach was adopted, utilizing CT scanning where possible, but preceded by an ‘exposed-wood’ imaging technique. Both non-invasive techniques have yielded reliable results, and CT scanning has confirmed the reliability of the imaging technique alone. This paper presents the analytical methods, along with results from two of the 13 objects under investigation. Results for reliable dates and provenances provide new foundations for historical interpretations.

Abbreviations

ABD

After the Black Death Painting and Polychrome Sculpture in Norway, 1350–1550

CATS

Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

CT scan

X-ray computed tomography scan

KHM

Kulturhistorisk museum/Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo

NGI

Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo

UiO

University of Oslo

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Research Council of Norway for funding collaborative efforts between Conservation Studies, University of Oslo, and the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS), Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Thanks are due to Heidi Debreczeny Wilkinson, Bjørnar Slensvik and Magnus Soldal (NGI) for their expertise and guidance during CT scanning; to KHM staff, especially Jan Bill for valuable advice and lending his scanning stands, and to Eivind Bratlie for assistance with transporting objects to NGI.

References

  1. 1.
    J. Bill, K.S. Dalen, A. Daly, Ø. Johnsen, Dendro CT—dendrochronology without damage. Dendrochronologia 30, 223–230 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. Bill, A. Daly, The plundering of the ship graves from Oseberg and Gokstad—an example of power politics? Antiquity 86, 808–824 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    N.L.W. Streeton, Project description: After the Black Death: Painting and Polychrome Sculpture in Norway, 1350–1550. (Norwegian Research Council, Oslo, 2013). http://www.hf.uio.no/iakh/english/research/projects/medieval-painting/index.html. Accessed 10 Jun 2016
  4. 4.
    N. Streeton, Preface, in Paint and piety: collected essays on medieval painting and polychrome sculpture, ed. by N.L.W. Streeton, K. Kollandsrud (Archetype Publications, London, 2014), pp. vii–xGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    E.S. Engelstad, Senmiddelalderens kunst i Norge ca. 1400–1535 (Universitetets Oldsaksamling, Oslo, 1936)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    N.L.W. Streeton, Perspectives (old and new) on late-medieval church art in Norway: questioning the hegemony of Lübeck workshops. Scandinavian Studies (in press) Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    N.L.W. Streeton, Writing histories for late-medieval objects: the engagement of conservation with theoretical perspectives on material culture. Stud. Conserv. (2016). doi: 10.1080/00393630.2016.1210752 Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For a basic description of the dendrochronologicy technique see for example M.G.L. Baillie, A Slice Through Time, dendrochronology and precision dating. (Batsford, London, 1995)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For example: A. Daly, The Karschau Ship, Schleswig-Holstein: dendrochronological results and timber provenance. Int. J. Naut. Archaeol. 36(1), 155–166 (March 2007), and A. Daly, in Timber, Trade and Tree-rings. A dendrochronological analysis of structural oak timber in Northern Europe, c. AD 1000 to c. AD 1650 (PhD thesis, University of Southern Denmark, 2007)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    For example: J. Hillam, R.A. Morgan and I.Tyers, Sapwood estimates and the dating of short ring sequences. in Applications of Tree-ring Studies: Current Research in Dendrochronology and Related Subjects, ed. by R.G.W. Ward, BAR International Series 333 (1987) pp. 165–185, or K. Sohar, A. Vitas & A. Läänelaid. Sapwood estimates of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) in eastern Baltic. Dendrochronologia 30 (2012) 49–56Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    For example J. Hillam, I. Tyers. Reliability and repeatability in dendrochronological analysis: tests using the Fletcher archive of panel-painting data. Archaeometry 37, 395–405 (1995), N. Bonde, I. Tyers, T. Ważny, Where does the timber come from? Dendrochronological evidence of timber trade in Northern Europe, in Archaeological Sciences 1995, ed. by A. Sinclair, E. Slater, J. Gowlett (Oxford, 1997), pp. 201–204, or T. Wazny. Baltic timber in Western Europe—an exciting dendrochronological question. Dendrochronologia, 20: 313–320 (2002)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    F.H. Schweingruber, Microscopic Wood Anatomy; Structural Variability of Stems and Twigs in Recent and Subfossil Woods from Central Europe, 3rd edn. (Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt WSL, Birmensdorf, 1990)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    T.M. Olstad, J.M. Stornes, T. Seip Bartholin, When dendrochronology corroborates art history. Eur. J. Sci. Theol. 11(2), 159–169 (2015)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    M.J. Hoffmann, Studien zur Lübecker Tafelmalerei von 1450 bis 1520, Schleswig-Holsteinische Schriften zur Kunstgeschichte, Band 22 (Ludwig, Kiel, 2015), pp. 258–278Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    T. Wazny, in Aufbau und Anwendung der Dendrochronologie für Eichenholz in Polen (PhD Thesis, Universität Hamburg, 1990), p. 213Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    E. Hollstein, in Mitteleuropäische Eichenchronologie (Trierer Grabungen und Forschungen 11. Mainz am Rhein, 1980)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    J. Hillam, I. Tyers, Reliability and repeatability in dendrochronological analysis: tests using the Fletcher archive of panel-painting data. Archaeometry 37, 395–405 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    A. Daly, in Timber, Trade and Tree-rings. A dendrochronological analysis of structural oak timber in Northern Europe, c. AD 1000 to c. AD 1650 (PhD thesis, University of Southern Denmark, 2007)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    A. Daly, Dendrokronologisk undersøgelse af tønde fra Niels Hemmingsensgade, København. in Nationalmuseets Naturvidenskabelige Undersøgelser, report 14 (Copenhagen, 2000)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    A. Daly, Dendrochronological analysis of altarpiece, Kvæfjord 2, Norway, C3215. in CATS dendro report 7 (Copenhagen, 2014)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    A. Daly, Dendrochronological analysis of tabernacle from Berg church, Norway, C2911. in CATS dendro report 4 (Copenhagen, 2014)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    A. Daly, Dendrochronological analysis of altarpiece from Slagen church, Norway, C2124. in CATS dendro report 2 (Copenhagen, 2013)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    A. Daly, Dendrochronological analysis of oak from a shipwreck, Skjernøysund 3, Mandal, Norway. in Chronology, Culture and Archaeology report 2 (University College Dublin, Dublin, 2011)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    A. Daly, Dendrokronologisk undersøgelse af skibsvrag fra Vejdyb udfor Hals, Aalborg Amt. in Nationalmuseets Naturvidenskabelige Undersøgelser rapport 1997/12, (Copenhagen, 1997)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    O.H. Eriksen, Dendrokronologisk undersøgelse af tømmer fra skibsvrag fundet på Dokøen, København. in Nationalmuseets Naturvidenskabelige Undersøgelser rapport 2001/23 (Copenhagen, 2001)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    A. Daly, P. Nymoen, The Bøle Ship, Skien, Norway—research history, dendrochronology and provenance. Int. J. Naut. Archaeol 37(1), 153–170 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    A. Daly, Dateringsundersøgelse af tømmer fra Thomas B Thriges gade, Odense: dendro fase 2. in Dendro.dk rapport 2016/22, (Copenhagen, 2016)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    A. Daly, Barrels from the Skaftö shipwreck. in Dendro.dk report no. 2013/4 (Copenhagen, 2013)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    A. Daly, Egelskärsvraket Finland. in dendro.dk rapport nr. 2011/2, 2011 (Copenhagen, 2011)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    A. Daly, Dendrochronological analysis of samples from timbers and cargo from the Vasa, Stockholm, Sweden—a case study. in Chronology, Culture and Archaeology report 13 (University College Dublin, Dublin, 2013)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS)Statens Museum for KunstCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.Conservation Studies, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History (IAKH)University of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations