The University of Arizona

A Cutting-Date Estimation Method for Two Archaeologically Important Tree Species

Stephen E. Nash

Abstract


Regression equations are developed to describe the relationship between heartwood, sapwood, and tree age in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas fir (Pseudotruga menziesii), two archaeologically important Southwestern tree species.These equations are used to estimate cutting dates for dendrochronological specimens that otherwise offer only noncutting dates. Three case studies are presented that test the efficacy and interpretive utility of the method: Cutting date estimates on living-tree cores allow an analysis of the statistical behavior of the cutting date estimates; and archaeological case studies at Zuni Pueblo and Walpi Pueblo allow consideration of local provenience and site-level interpretations of the cutting-date estimates. It is concluded that archaeological contextual information and simple logic must be considered before a cutting-date estimate is accepted at face value. In addition, the disparate nature of the methods and data suggest that statistical estimation techniques and archaeological dendrochronology should be considered together only with great caution.

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