Application of Dendrochronology to Historical Charcoal-Production Sites in the Great Basin, United States

Abstract

During the Comstock mining era of the late 1800s, forested lands in the North American Great Basin were used for charcoal production to fuel mining smelters and related industries. Archaeological studies within or near mining districts include assessments of charcoal-production sites when such remnant features are present. Minimal historical documentation exists for individual production sites, and so the science of dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) is used to provide calendar dates and other information on the nature of historical activity within forests and woodlands. A synthesis of the dendrochronological approach to historical charcoal-production investigation is presented in the context of four recent studies, including a comprehensive strategy, new processing techniques, and unique results. This approach provides charcoal-production archaeologists with precise temporal and spatial data that are applied to questions such as patterns and timing of deforestation, or differences in technology and practices among immigrant laborers.

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Correspondence to Scotty Strachan.

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Strachan, S., Biondi, F., Lindström, S.G. et al. Application of Dendrochronology to Historical Charcoal-Production Sites in the Great Basin, United States. Hist Arch 47, 103–119 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03377126

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