Rowin VAN LANEN1 / Esther JANSMA2

(1Netherlands Centre for Dendrochronology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands / 2National Heritage Agency, The Netherlands)

Outline: This paper focuses on digitizing, preserving and exchanging tree-ring data for scientific research.

In the past, wood was one of the most important building materials in the Netherlands. Wood from the past is preserved in the soil archive (archaeological and natural sites), under water (ships), in the built environment (buildings), and in objects (art and furniture). Its patterns of annually varying ring widths can be read as accurate chronological records of biological, geological and climate processes in the past and are an important source of information about our former dealings with this material. Dendrochronological data are an essential and unique source of information about chronology, the social economy, cultural landscape, climate, forest management and wood technology. In order to study these topics, we need to combine existing dendrochronological data and knowledge from archaeology, architectural history, art history and natural-historical research.
This combination is made possible by the Digital Collaboratory for Cultural-historical Dendrochronology (DCCD), which is an accessible Trusted Digital Repository of cultural and natural-historical dendrochronological data for the Low Countries, designed with the specific purpose of developing and refining historical knowledge using information in and inferred from these data. It contains dendrochronological measurement series and their descriptive and interpretative metadata from eight different laboratories in five different countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Poland), conforming to international digital archiving standards (the Tree-Ring Data Standard – TRiDaS). Once the DCCD is set up, the participants can use it to store newly generated data. The DCCD will be linked to, and able to frequently harvest, relevant historical and future tree-ring archives abroad and digital archives in the Netherlands containing related cultural and natural data.
The DCCD is an answer to an (inter)national lack of provisions for digital data storage and accessibility in cultural dendrochronology. When the project is finished in 2010, the DCCD will contain 30,000 measurement series and metadata from over 20,000 trees that grew between 6000 BC and present, with the emphasis on the past 2,000 years. This, making the DCCD a first-class vehicle for exchanging data and interdisciplinary studies.

Keywords: Cultural-historical dendrochronology, Data uniformity, Data preservation, Exchangeability, DCCD, TRiDaS