Exploring Ways of Knowing

Ways of Knowing Part 1 - Tree Rings

Tree Ring

People from all over the world study the Mesa Verde region because these archaeologicalsites hold rich data. The arid climate, large number of sites, and well-preserved wood inthose sites have made it possible to develop a more complete chronology of this region thananywhere else in the world.  Trees produce growth rings of different sizes every year that reveal changes in precipitation.  Scientists use tree rings to pinpoint construction dates of buildings.

Building a Tree Ring Chronology Scientists make a timeline of the Mesa Verde region by matching and overlapping cores from living piñon and juniper trees with rings from dead trees of the same species.
Scientists match cores from beams in ancient buildings with a master timeline. Sometimes ancestral Pueblo people reused wood from old buildings, so researchers collect cores from several beams in a home or kiva to make sure they’re dating it accurately.
Note the wood beams common in ancestral Puebloan structures and common to adobe structures today.