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A Cutting-Date Estimation Technique for Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir Wood Specimens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Stephen E. Nash*
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, West Stadium, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

Abstract

The interpretation of noncutting tree-ring dates from archaeological sites often proves problematic, and many sites in the Southwest may be more securely dated if cutting dates can be reliably estimated. Analysis of 54 ponderosa pine and 46 Douglas fir specimens reveals that the relationship between heartwood and sapwood in these species is sufficiently structured that regression analysis can be used to estimate the number of sapwood rings, and by extension the tree's cutting date, on the basis of the number of heartwood rings present on wood specimens. The efficacy of this estimation technique is evaluated on samples from localized and well-dated proveniences at Walpi Pueblo, as well as in light of the aggregate date distribution curve for that site. Results suggest that uncritical acceptance of estimated cutting dates is ill advised, but that when cutting-date estimates (and their associated confidence intervals) are considered in light of contextualizing architectural and archaeological data, they may suggest alternative room construction and repair hypotheses. When considered as part of the aggregate date distribution for a site, estimated cutting dates may identify and augment date concentrations, thereby helping secure the chronometric placement of prehistoric sites in the Southwest.

La interpretatión de fechados dendrocronológicos sin corte provenientes de sitios arqueológicos es frecuentemente problemática, y muchos sitios del Suroeste podrían ser fechados mís seguramente con una estimatión confiable de fechados de corte. El análisis de 54 especímenes de pino ponderosa y 46 de abeto Douglas revela que la relatión entre el corazón del tronco y la madera resinosa en estas especies tiene suficiente estructura como para que una regresión se pueda utilizar confiablemente para extender el número de anillos en la madera resinosa, y por lo tanto lafecha de corte, en base al número de anillos presentes en el corazón de especímenes de madera. Se evalúa la eficacia de esta técnica en muestras de proveniencia localizada y bien fechada de Walpi Pueblo, así como en comparación con la curva de distributión de fechas agregadas para ese sitio. Los resultados sugieren que las fechas de corte estimadas no deben ser aceptadas sin una evaluation critica, pero que cuando se interpretan en contextos arquitectónicos y arqueológicos, estas fechas pueden sugerir hipótesis alternas de constructión y reparatión. Cuando fechas estimadas se añaden a la curva de distributión de fechas agregadas, ésas pueden ayudar a identificar y expandir concentraciones de fechados, y consecuentemente contribuyen a asegurar la position cronométrica de sitios prehistóricos en el Suroeste.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 1997

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References

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