Encyclopedia of Geoarchaeology

2017 Edition
| Editors: Allan S. Gilbert


  • Jonathan G. A. LageardEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4409-0_41


Tree-ring dating


The word dendrochronology comprises three parts, originating from Greek “dendron” (tree), “chronos” (time), and -ology (study of), and is defined as “the science of dating tree rings” (Kaennel and Schweingruber, 1995, 65). It is a chronometric (“absolute”) dating technique that employs records of annual growth increments in trees to establish the calendar age of wood samples taken from living or nonliving trees and from wood that has been used by humans.


Interest in tree growth and the rings produced by this phenomenon has its origin in fifteenth century AD and possibly before. Leonardo da Vinci is often cited as the first notable scientist not only to write about tree growth but also to speculate that tree rings and environmental parameters (rainfall) in the growing season might be linked (Schweingruber, 1988; Speer, 2010). In the seventeenth century, the invention of the microscope paved the way for wood anatomical studies, and by the...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Geography and Environmental Management, School of Science and the Environment, Faculty of Science and EngineeringManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK