“Narrowest-Ring” Events in the Irish Oak Chronology: Uncertainties in Reconstructing Cause and Effect in Prehistory

  • Michael G. L. Baillie
Chapter

Abstract

A number of “Narrowest-Ring” events have been identified in Irish oaks, with close to calendrial precision, back to 4500 y ago. The nature of these events will be impossible to establish unless putative causes can be precisely dated, independently of the tree-ring chronology. But even if such precise dating were available, alternative causes can be envisaged. Thus, while we can test, in principle, whether an hypothesis regarding the nature of a “Narrowest-Ring” event is acceptable (through adequate dating), we can never establish that it is in fact correct. In addition, it will always be difficult to tie human activities to dated tree-ring events, because archeological dating tends to be imprecise even when using dendrochronology (which yields a date for when a tree was alive, or felled, but not for the date of its use in building). What dates are available for Irish prehistory suggest that major changes in population and culture are associated with the major calamitous events recorded in the tree-rings of Irish oaks.

Keywords

Dust Europe Syria Acidity Holocene 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alley RB, Shuman CA, Meese DA, Gow AJ, Taylor KC, Cuffey KM, Fitzpatrik JJ, Grootes PM, Zielinski GA, Ram M, Spinelli G, Elder B (1997) Visual stratigraphic dating of the GISP2 ice core: basis, reproducibility, and application. Journal of Geophysical Research 102, No. C12, 26, 411–26, 423Google Scholar
  2. Baillie MGL (1995a) A Slice Through Time: dendrochronology and precision dating. Batsford, Londonm pp 1–176Google Scholar
  3. Baillie MGL (1995b) Dendrochronology and the Chronology of the Irish Bronze Age. In: Waddell J, Shee Twohig E (eds) Ireland in the Bronze Age. The Stationery Office, Dublin, pp 30–37Google Scholar
  4. Baillie MGL (1996) Extreme environmental events and the linking of the tree-ring and ice-core records. In: Dean JS, Meko DM, Swetnam TW (eds) Tree Rings, Environment and Humanity: Proceedings of the International Conference, Tucson, Arizona, 17–2 May 1994. Tucson, Radiocarbon, pp 703–711Google Scholar
  5. Baillie MGL (1999) Exodus to Arthur: catastrophic encounters with comets. Batsford, London, p 272Google Scholar
  6. Baillie MGL, Brown DM (1991) A dendro date from Haughey’s Fort? Emania 8:39–40Google Scholar
  7. Baillie MGL, Brown DM (1998) The Dendro-Date from Haughey’s Fort. Emania 17:45–46Google Scholar
  8. Baillie MGL, Munro MAR (1988) Irish tree-rings, Santorini and volcanic dust veils. Nature 332:344–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Caseldine C, Hatton J, Huber U, Chiverrell R, Woolley N (1998) Assessing the impact of volcanic activity on mid-Holocene climate in Ireland: the need for replicate data. The Holocene 8, 1:105–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clausen HB, Hammer CU, Hvidberg CS, Dahl-Jensen D, Steffensen JP (1997) A comparison of the volcanic records over the past 4000 years from the Greenland Ice Core Project and Dye Greenland ice cores. Journal of Geophysical Research 102, No. C12, 26, 7073 – 26, 723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cooney G, Grogan E (1994) Irish Prehistory: a social perspective. Wordwell, Dublin, pp 1–251Google Scholar
  12. Courty M-A (1998) The Soil Record of an Exceptional Event at 4000 B.P. in the Middle East. In: Peiser BJ, Palmer J, Bailey ME (eds) Natural Catastrophes During bronze Age Civilizations. BAR International Series 728, pp 93–108Google Scholar
  13. Hammer CU, Clausen HB, Dansgaard W (1980) Greenland Ice Sheet Evidence of Post-Glacial Volcanism and its Climatic Impact. Nature 288:230–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. LaMarche VC Jr and Hirschboeck KK (1984) ‘Frost Rings in Trees as Records of Major Volcanic Eruptions’. Nature 307:121–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Legge J (1879) The Sacred Books of China. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 1–492Google Scholar
  16. Mallory JP, McNeill TE (1991) The Archaeology of Ulster from Colonization to Plantation. The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, pp 1–367Google Scholar
  17. Mallory JP, Warner RB (1988) ‘The Date of Haughey’s Fort’. Emania 5: 3 6–40Google Scholar
  18. O’Donovan J (1848) Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters. Hodges and Smith, Dublin, Vol 1, pp 1–565Google Scholar
  19. Osgood R (1998) Warfare in the late Bronze Age of North Europe. BAR International Series 694Google Scholar
  20. Pearson GW, Pilcher JR, Baillie MGL, Corbett DM, Qua F (1986) ‘High-Precision 14-C Measurement of Irish Oaks to Show the Natural 14-C Variations from AD 1840 to 5210 BC’. Radiocarbon 28:911–34Google Scholar
  21. Peiser BJ (1998) Comparative Analysis of late Holocene Environmental and Social Upheaval: Evidence for a Global Disaster around 4000 BP. In: Peiser BJ, Palmer J, Bailey ME (eds) Natural Catastrophes During bronze Age Civilizations. BAR International Series 728, pp 117–139Google Scholar
  22. Pilcher JR, Hall VA, McCormac FG (1995) Dates of Holocene Icelandic volcanic eruptions from tephra layers in Irish peats. The Holocene, 5, 1:103–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schechner Genuth S (1997) Comets, Popular Culture, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology. Princeton University Press, pp 1–365Google Scholar
  24. Waddell J (1995) Celts, Celticisation and the Irish Bronze Age. In: Waddell J, Shee Twohig E (eds) Ireland in the Bronze Age. The Stationery Office, Dublin, pp 158–169Google Scholar
  25. Waddell J (1998) The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland. Galway University Press, pp 1–433Google Scholar
  26. Warner RB (1986) Preliminary Schedules of Sites and Stray Finds in the Navan. Complex. Emania 1:5–9Google Scholar
  27. Warner RB (1990) The ‘Prehistoric’ Irish Annals: Fable or History. Archaeology Ireland 4, 1:30–3Google Scholar
  28. Warner RB (1993) Tree-Rings, Catastrophes and Culture in Early Ireland: Some Comments. Emania 11:13–19Google Scholar
  29. Warner RB (1994) Emania Varia 1. Emania 12:66–72Google Scholar
  30. Zielinski GA, Mayewski PA, Meeker LD, Whitlow S, Twickler MS, Morrison M, Meese DA, Gow AJ, Alley RB (1994) Record of volcanism since 7000 B.C. from the GISP2 Greenland ice core and implications for the volcano-climate system. Science 264:948–952CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael G. L. Baillie
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Archaeology and PalaeoecologyThe Queen’s University of BelfastUK-BelfastNorthern Ireland

Personalised recommendations