Dendroarchaeology of the mid-first millennium AD in Constantinople

Charlotte L. Pearson, Carol B. Griggs, Peter I. Kuniholm, Peter W. Brewer, Tomasz Waz̈ny, Le Ann Canady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The 1st millennium AD was a time of great transition in Europe and the Mediterranean. At the heart of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) was a pivotal trade hub for the Aegean region. Establishing a precise and accurate dating framework for the development of this remarkable city and a chronological reference for this critical time period for the Mediterranean region is of great importance to a wide range of scholars. Here we present a new 213 year tree-ring record from 89 oak samples placed in time by dendrochronology and supported by radiocarbon analysis and historical documentation. It represents the middle of the first millennium AD in Constantinople. The tree-ring series are derived from pilings recovered from the extraordinary excavations of the so-called " Theodosian harbor" at Yenikapi, Istanbul, along with timbers from other sites and buildings around the city, including one of the most famous sites on the Istanbul sky-line-Hagia Sophia. They provide potential for new insight into a time period in which earthquakes, the Justinianic plague, and even a possible tsunami struck the city, and during which dramatic changes in climate have been recorded in other paleoenvironmental proxies. The chronology is the first published tree-ring series from the Aegean region to cover the 'event' years of AD 536-7 and 542 which are characterized by anomalous growth in other tree-ring series from around the world, but interestingly these event years are not evident in this tree-ring sequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3402-3414
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Constantinople
  • Dendrochronology
  • First millennium AD
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Istanbul
  • Yenikapi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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