Understanding the Past

Tree Rings Can Tell Time

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People from all over the world study the Mesa Verde in the South West region because these archaeological sites hold rich data. The arid climate, large number of sites, and well-preserved wood in those sites have made it possible to develop a more complete chronology of this region than anywhere 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.


Notice the tiny rings on the tree stump. Each ring represents approximately one year of growth.

How many years did this tree live before being cut down?