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Subject: Dendrochronology


From: Rachael Arenstein <arensteinr>
Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Kristina Enhorning <kristina.enhorning [at] landsarkivet-lund__ra__se>

>Has anyone heard of dating of books with wooden boards by means of
>dendrochronological analyses?

I am forwarding two responses from experts working in the field of

    Response 1:

    You ask if similar studies have been made elsewhere concerning
    the dendrochronological dating of wooden book covers. Although
    uncommon, such an application of tree-ring dating has been
    conducted previously, first by Dr. Fletcher of the Oxford Dendro
    Lab (now deceased) back in the early 1980s, and most recently
    several times by Dr. Catherine Lavier of the dendro group in
    Besangon, France (see references below). In fact, I bought two
    16th century books at a flea market in Amsterdam back in 1994
    and my colleague (Esther Jansma) and I would one day like to
    date these as well.

    Hans Linderson has not published much in the way of tree-ring
    research, so I can't comment on the veracity of his datings, but
    the fact that he determined the likely provenance of the timbers
    is certainly impressive. Let me know if I can be of any further

    Dr. Henri D. Grissino-Mayer
    Department of Geography
    University of Tennessee
    Knoxville, TN 37996
    grissino [at] utkux__utcc__utk__edu


        Fletcher, J.M., Tapper, M.C. 1984.
        Medieval artefacts and structures dated by dendrochronology.
        Medieval Archaeology 28: 112-132.

        Lavier, C., Perrat, M.J., Rebourg, A. 1992.
        La dendrochronologie et le livre medieval. In: G. Lambert
        and B. Maurice, eds., Les Veines du Temps: Lectures de Bois
        en Bourgogne. Musie Rolin, Autun, pp. 412- 434.

        Lavier, C. 2000.
        Historique et mithode en dendrochronologie. Exemples,
        limites et riussites sur manuscrits. In: Actes de la Journie
        d'Etude: Problimatique des restaurations sur ais de bois `
        couvrure estampie. Agence Rigionale de Cooperation,
        Association Comtoise de Cooperation pour la Lecture
        l'Audiovisuel et la Documentation, pp. 42-52.

        Lavier, C. 1998.
        Apport de la dendrochronologie ` l'itude d'ais de
        manuscrits: l'exemple de la Bibliothque Municipale d'Autun
        (Saone-et-Loire). Scriptorium 52(2): 380-388.

        Lavier, C. 2000.
        Approche dendrochronologique sur les ais en bois des
        reliures de Vendtme. In: J.L. Alexandre, G. Grand and G.
        Lanok, eds., Catalogue des Reliures Medievales des
        Bibliotheques de France, Vol. 2. Collection Institut de
        Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes, pp. 37-49.

Response 2:

    I was asked some years ago to try to date the Mellon Codex in
    Washington, D.C.  It is a 4th century or 5th century (?)
    manuscript in a pair of wooden covers, but unfortunately the
    covers were of acacia wood which is undatable by

    Prof. Peter Ian Kuniholm
    Malcolm and Carolyn Wiener Laboratory for Aegean and Near Eastern
    B-48 Goldwin Smith Hall
    Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853-3201.
    607-255-8650 (lab)
    607-255-9732 (office)
    peter [at] dendro__mail__cornell__edu

Rachael Perkins Arenstein
National Museum of the American Indian
Research Branch
3401 Bruckner Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10461
Fax: 212-514-3816

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:18
                Distributed: Thursday, September 5, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-18-011
Received on Wednesday, 4 September, 2002

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