Vincent MOM1 / Joachim SCHULTZE2
(1DPP Foundation, Dordrecht; The Netherlands / 2Archäologisches Landesmuseum Schloss Gottorf , Germany)


Development of a new computational technique to determine whether pieces of (archaeological) wood are from the same tree, or not.


In order to determine whether pieces of wood are from the same tree, the authors developed a new computational method to compare year ring patterns. The basis of our approach is the assumption that the similarity between two samples from one and the same tree, in general, is larger than the similarity between two samples from different trees. The method calculates a similarity coefficient which is used as the main indicator to assign individual pieces of wood to tree individuals.

The project is a cooperation between the DPP Foundation, the Archäologisches Landesmuseum Schloß Gottorf, the Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Wood Technology and Wood Biology (Hamburg) and the University of Hamburg. The method is applied to wooden structures found at the Viking town of Hedeby in the northern part of Germany. Of the 25.5 ha settlement area within a semi-circular rampart about 5 % has been excavated since the beginning of the 20th century. Since the remains of Hedeby lie in a wetland area, many organic finds such as wood, textile and leather were well preserved. Being able to assign pieces of wood to individual trees is a great help to reconstruct the building process of wooden structures like buildings, track ways, fences, harbor constructions and boats.

In this contribution the authors will demonstrate how the new method helped to reconstruct the different phases of a house. Also structures surrounding the house were analyzed to see whether they were linked to the house or not. Furthermore, the (dis)advantages of different calculation methods will be discussed.


dendrochronology, Hedeby, reconstruction of wooden structures