The University of Arizona

Wiggle-Match Dating of Tree-Ring Sequences from the Early Iron Age Defensive Settlement Motroninskoe Gorodishche in Mielniki (Central Ukraine)

Jan Chochorowski, Marek Krąpiec, Sergej Skoryj, Vadim Skrypkin


In 2002–2003, excavations were carried out within the early Iron Age fortified settlement of Motroninskoe Gorodishche in Mielniki (central Ukraine, obl. Cherkassy). The excavations revealed relics of a charred wooden structure in the core of the earth rampart, originally forming the outside fortification line of the settlement. Dendrochronological analysis of 20 charred pieces of the oakwood from the rampart demonstrated that they all represented a single construction phase. However, the chronology produced from them spanned only 62 yr, and the attempts of dating against the European oak standards were unsuccessful. For absolute dating, radiocarbon analysis was conducted on nine samples consisting of 4–8 tree rings, relatively dated and coming from selected timbers, of which dendrochronological sequences defined the above chronology. The wiggle-matching method allowed to determine the two most plausible periods tree cutting: 665–630 or 625–520 BC. The construction date of the rampart outlines the beginning of construction of the fortification system of one of the most heavily reinforced strongholds in eastern Europe raised by the local, settled population for defense against the nomadic Scythians invading from the steppe. Taking into account historic data and other dated artifacts, it may be assumed that the first period, 665–630 BC, would be more probable. This conclusion supports the historical process (crucial for eastern Europe) of migration of the Iranian Scythians from inside Asia and settling in areas around the Black Sea.

DOI: 10.2458/56.17460


archaeological wood; dendrochronology; radiocarbon dating

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