Methodologies for dating wooden artefacts

In recent years, constant progress has been made with regard to wood-dating techniques. In Italy, both the number and length of dendrochronological reference chronologies have increased so that by now the last 10,000 years are almost completely covered. This indispensable dating method has provided new ways for studying archaeological and prehistoric finds. New technologies have remarkably improved the sampling techniques, which today, in most cases, are very effective and non-evasive. Modern software now allows easy data management and statistical analyses. Apart from dendrochronology, the diffusion of isotope analysis has also had great impetus. With regard to radiocarbon dating, the calibration curve has been enriched by new data, and several peaks of cosmic emissions have been identified that, in future, can be instrumental in improving dating precision. Apart from radiocarbon, the isotope analyses of O, H and Sr, especially if linked with dendrochronology, allow to refine the information regarding dating and, in many cases, permits to determine the timber’s provenance and even to define precisely the environmental conditions for the growth of the tree, from which the wood has been obtained. Today, finally, we can assert that all wood can be dated. Only the precision of dating still varies but constant progress is being made in that regard, too.