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The use of olive wood and olive pits in dendrochronology, paleoclimate and archaeology

A section of an old olive tree studied in the project

This project is focused on using the olive, which is found abundantly in many archaeological sites, in two ways: one is the investigation into the possible use of olive wood in dendrochronology, and the second is gleaning information about past climate by the δ13C measured in charred olive pits.

In order to be able to use olive wood in dendrochronology, and to access environmental information at an annual resolution, it must first be shown that olive wood growth represents a continued annual sequence that can be defined as such. It has already been shown (Cherubini et al., 2013) that basic dendrochronological methods of visually counting rings do not produce reliable and reproducible results for the olive tree. This work aims to identify whether the olive wood tissue grows continuously, representing an unbroken time sequence, and if so, to find an alternative method of identifying annual rings.

Regarding the δ13C signal from charred olive pits found at archaeological sites, it is essential to first understand the response of modern olive trees to different environmental conditions, and how this is reflected in the δ13C that is finally put down in the cellulose of the pits. To do so, mathematical models describing carbon fractionation and environmental effects (Δ13C) will be employed.

Dangoor Education - the Exilarch Foundation opens in a new windowThe DANGOOR Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (D-REAMS) Laboratory was established by the Exilarch Foundation in November 2012. www.dangooreducation.com