Securing timelines in the ancient mediterranean using multiproxy annual tree-ring data

Charlotte Pearson, Matthew Salzer, Lukas Wacker, Peter Brewer, Adam Sookdeo, Peter Kuniholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Calendar-dated tree-ring sequences offer an unparalleled resource for high-resolution paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Where such records exist for a few limited geographic regions over the last 8,000 to 12,000 years, they have proved invaluable for creating precise and accurate timelines for past human and environmental interactions. To expand such records across new geographic territory or extend data for certain regions further backward in time, new applications must be developed to secure “floating” (not yet absolutely dated) tree-ring sequences, which cannot be assigned single-calendar year dates by standard dendrochronological techniques. This study develops two approaches to this problem for a critical floating tree-ring chronology from the East Mediterranean Bronze-Iron Age. The chronology is more closely fixed in time using annually resolved patterns of 14C, modulated by cosmic radiation, between 1700 and 1480 BC. This placement is then tested using an anticorrelation between calendar-dated tree-ring growth responses to climatically effective volcanism in North American bristlecone pine and the Mediterranean trees. Examination of the newly dated Mediterranean tree-ring sequence between 1630 and 1500 BC using X-ray fluorescence revealed an unusual calcium anomaly around 1560 BC. While requiring further replication and analysis, this anomaly merits exploration as a potential marker for the eruption of Thera.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8410-8415
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 14 2020


  • Annual C
  • Mediterranean Bronze Age
  • Thera eruption
  • Tree rings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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