Long-term preservation of dendroarchaeological specimens and in situ preservation: Problems and practical solutions

Pearce Paul Creasman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dendrochronology offers a unique opportunity to address archaeological questions with minimal invasiveness. Often, archaeological tree-ring sampling, and occasionally analysis itself, can be performed while the larger structure or object remains in situ. In comparison to the costs and benefi ts of excavation (complete or partial) and a growing international call for in situ preservation, dendrochronology provides an effective compromise for the interpretation of wooden material culture. The current number of archaeological tree-ring specimens worldwide probably exceeds 2,000,000. These specimens have been obtained from thousands of historic buildings, shipwrecks, and other sites and artefacts. These specimens are housed by a variety of public and private entities: museums, universities, governments, private corporations, and individuals. Despite their importance as vouchers for archaeological dates and great potential for future use and new applications, generally little attention has been paid to the long-term curation of tree-ring specimens. This paper identifi es some pressing curation problems and suggests that the value and nature of dendroarchaeological research is compatible with international calls for in situ preservation. Some practical suggestions, provided here, could drastically improve the long-term curation of dendroarchaeological specimens, further demonstrating the methodology as a viable and valuable partner to in situ preservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
JournalConservation and Management of Archaeological Sites
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Archives
  • Conservation
  • Dendroarchaeology
  • Dendrochronology
  • Preservation
  • Specimens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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