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Aegean Dendrochronology Project

Our key long-range goal is to build long multi-millennial scale tree-ring chronologies in the Aegean and Near East that will extend from the present to the early Holocene to cover, broadly speaking, the last 10,000 years of human and environmental history. Our raison d'être is to provide a dating method for the study of history and prehistory in the Aegean that is accurate to the year. This kind of precision has, up to now, been lacking in ancient studies of this area. Indeed, few archaeological problems stimulate as much rancor as chronology, especially that of the Eastern Mediterranean. The work of the Aegean and Near Eastern Dendrochronology Project aims to help to bring some kind of rational and neutral order to Aegean and Near Eastern chronology from the Neolithic to the present.

We also aim to provide a fundamental climate and environmental studies resource for a region which was the cradle of a number of civilizations central to human history from the origins of agriculture through to the Classical period, the Medieval period, and beyond.

To date, more than 10 million tree-ring measurements have led to the compilation of chronologies covering (but not wholly covering) some 9,000 years. Our aim is to fill in the gaps. See our bargraph to get an idea of the time periods covered. The most difficult periods for us are the first half millennium B.C. and the first millennium A.D. If you have relevant samples, please contact us!

An example of a crossdating plot from a site in Turkey.

Southern Levant Dendrochronology Project

The Southern Levant Dendrochronology Project (SLDP) is a laboratory sub-project started in 2007 to include lab member Brita Lorentzen's PhD thesis with the aim of building up the database of dendrochronologically dated timbers from sites in the southern Levant (i.e. southern Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt) and building long-term chronologies for species native to the southern Levant. This project now comprises several main foci.

The first phase of this project has involved sampling and building chronologies from Pinus halepensis trees growing in modern forest sites situated along rough north-south and east-west transects in the southern Levant in order to investigate their response to climate and examine variability in the tree-ring record. When we compare correlations among Pinus halepensis and Pinus brutia chronologies that we and other researchers have built from eastern Mediterranean forest sites, it is clear that northeastern (Turkey, Cyprus, and Syria) and southeastern (Israel and Jordan) Mediterranean sites form two distinct tree-ring signals, with a transition zone located in Lebanon. It is therefore necessary that we build separate chronologies of species native to the southern Levant if we are to date timbers procured from this region successfully. (Timbers from the northern Levant may be crossdated against our pre-existing chronological networks.) Building up the tree-ring database in the southern Levant will also allow us potentially to provenance timbers more precisely (i.e., indicate whether samples were procured from the southern or northern Levant) and provide information on long-term climate and environmental trends in the region. Where historic or archaeological timbers are studied, it is sometimes possible to detect imports from outside the Levantine region.

A second line of work has been dendrochronoligcal, and linked radiocarbon and dendrochronological, investigation of several shipwreck sites in collaboration with the The Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa, with the aim of dating these ships as accurately and precisely as possible.

A third project is working on juniper trees from the southern Levant, with a view to building a long dendrochronology, both from living specimens and from historic and archaeological sites. For one aspect of this work, see here

Sample contributions from archaeologists and historians and others working in the southern Levant will be critical to the project’s success, so please contact us if you have any potentially relevant samples! We are interested in wood samples from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria from the present back to the early Holocene (or before). This may include archaeological charcoal; timbers from historic buildings or other monuments; shipwrecks; old trees from forestry, construction, or other work; and subfossil trees. Suitable tree species include pine, cedar, juniper, and deciduous oak. Please note that olive, acacia, and tamarisk cannot be dated. (See our submitting samples page for more information.)

If you have any relevant samples please contact any or all of:

And we will be very pleased to hear from you.


Drilling a core sample from an old house in Crete.

Drilling a core sample from an old house in Crete.



Sampling archaeological charcoal at Alalakh, southern Turkey.

Sampling archaeological charcoal at Alalakh, southern Turkey.



Waterlogged timbers, Bologna, Bella Arti, Italy.

Waterlogged timbers, Bologna, Bella Arti, Italy.



Sampling oak timbers at Yenikapı İstanbul.

Sampling oak timbers at Yenikapı İstanbul.





Coring pines at Rosh HaNiqra

Coring pines at Rosh HaNiqra



Team in Jordan 2011

Team in Jordan 2011



Historic structure in southern Jordan sampled for dendrochronological samples in 2012

Historic structure in southern Jordan sampled for dendrochronological samples in 2012