Floating larch tree-ring chronologies from archaeological timbers in the Russian Altai between about 800 BC and AD 800

Irina Panyushkina, Igor Sljusarenko, Nikolay Bikov, Eugene Bogdanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We obtained over 200 archaeological wood specimens from the southeastern part of the Altai Mountains (Russia) to establish accurate calendar dates of the timbers using both radiocarbon and tree-ring analyses. Most timbers came from small and elite tombs of the Pazyryk culture (Siberian Scythians of the Iron Age period). Timbers from Hun-Sarmatian and Turk times (1st millennium AD) were studied for the first time. Three floating tree-ring width chronologies of larch (Larix sibirica) with lengths of 486 yr to 144 yr were developed from the tree-ring data. Tree rings of the composite 486-yr chronology of the Pazyryk culture represent the regional scale of Altai tree-ring width variability between about 720-240 BC. The composite chronology dates the earliest construction of Pazyryk culture tombs to ~320 BC (ordinary tombs) and the latest ones at 240 BC (Pazyryk noble tomb #5). The composite chronology might be used for tree-ring dating wood from Scythian tombs in the region. It will also help confirm the precision of 14C dating of the Scythian tombs around the Hallstatt plateau of 14C calibration curves. We developed a 110-yr decadal 14C sequence from the Kurayka site that dates Kok-Pash culture timbers back to cal AD 240 (Hun-Sarmatian period). 14C dates of wooden poles from 3 sites of Turk stone enclosures suggested wood cutting dates between cal AD 470 and 830. The results demonstrate that crossdating tree rings along with 14C dating of crossdated rings provide the most reliable and highest precision dates for these archaeological sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-702
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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