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Proceedings Paper

Dendrochronological analyses of art objects
Author(s): Peter Klein
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Paper Abstract

Dendrochronology is a discipline of the biological sciences which makes it possible to determine the age of wooden objects. Dendrochronological analyses are used in art history as an important means of dating wooden panels, sculptures and musical instruments. This method of dating allows us to ascertain at least a 'terminus post quem' for an art-object by determining the felling date of the tree from which the object was cut, in other words the data after which the wood for the object could have been sawn. The method involves measuring the width of the annual rings on the panels and comparing the growth ring curve resulting from this measurement with dated master chronologies. Since the characteristics of the growth ring curve over several centuries are unique and specific to wood of differing geographical origins of wood, it is possible to obtain a relatively precise dating of art-objects. Since dendrochronology is year specific it is more accurate than other scientific methods. But like other methods it has limitations. The method is limited only to trees from temperate zones. And even among these, some woods are better than others. A dating is possible for oak, beech, fir, pine and spruce. Linden and poplar are not datable.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 May 1998
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 3315, Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art, (25 May 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.308589
Show Author Affiliations
Peter Klein, Univ. of Hamburg (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3315:
Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art
Walter McCrone; Duane R. Chartier; Richard J. Weiss, Editor(s)

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