Dendrochronology of a Scrapheap, or How the History of Preveli Monastery Was Reconstructed

Anastasia Christopoulou, Tomasz Ważny, Jennifer Moody, Anastasia Tzigounaki, Kostas Giapitsoglou, Athina Fraidhaki, Anastasia Fiolitaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the Mediterranean region, stone and clay have long been the basic materials for buildings, crafts, and manufacturing. Wood plays a secondary, frequently hidden, role but is almost always present. Commonly considered a ‘less important’ building component, wood has been one of the first materials replaced and frequently discarded during restoration works. In this study, we apply dendrochronological techniques to timbers from Preveli Monastery on the island of Crete in the south Aegean (Greece). Samples were mainly collected from piles of building components discarded during renovations, as well as from standing features like ceiling beams and floorboards. A total of 74 samples from 59 different elements were collected and measured. Four different tree species were identified but by far the majority are fir (Abies sp.) and cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). Tree-ring correlations indicate that the fir timbers are Abies alba from the Alps. Cypress timbers were difficult to date because most samples had multiple false rings. Nevertheless, we were able to date about one-fifth of our cypress samples through comparison with a local cypress chronology. Our findings show that both local and imported timber were used for the Monastery’s restorations during the 18th and 19th centuries AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1424-1438
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Architectural Heritage
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021


  • Abies alba
  • Crete
  • Cupressus sempervirens
  • dendrochronology
  • historical wood
  • timber

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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