Dendrochronological Dating of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) Samples from Norris Basin, Tennessee: Re-evaluating the Florence Hawley Collection

Authors: Laura Smith*, University of Tennessee, Henri Grissino-Mayer, University of Tennessee
Topics: Physical Geography, Biogeography, Gender
Keywords: Dendrochronology, Dendroarchaeology
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the early and mid-1930s as part of a large-scale effort to introduce tree-ring dating techniques to southeastern archaeology, Florence Hawley (University of Chicago) in association with William Webb (Smithsonian Institute) and other collaborators collected many wood samples of various species from living trees and from Native American sites that would later be inundated by the Norris Reservoir in western Tennessee. One subset of samples from eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana) was thought to be especially promising for long chronologies and archaeology, but was problematic for dating due to false and micro-rings. Correspondences between Dr. Hawley and A.E. Douglass, her mentor and the developer of modern dendrochronological technique, demonstrated their continued interest in these samples through the mid-1940s. Since then, advances in techniques and technologies allow dendrochronologists to measure tree rings with more precision and to more clearly elucidate micro-structures that aid in the identification of false rings. Recently, 16 of the Norris Basin samples were successfully crossdated against modern cedar samples. An additional 50 of Dr. Hawley’s core samples taken from living trees in 1935 and 47 samples from logs and mound wood will be assessed for their mean sensitivity and ability to be crossdated. The addition of usable samples from this collection has the potential to extend the eastern red cedar chronology well before 1400 CE as well as contribute information to a historic problem contemporary to the development of the discipline of dendrochronology as we know it today.

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