Part of a series of articles titled Parks in Science History.
- 12 minutes, 3 seconds
Trees are living archives of information. Scientists around the world use tree rings to understand past climates, ecosystems, and cultures.
Scientists around the world use tree rings to understand past climates, ecosystems, and cultures. The study of tree rings to understand the past is called dendrochronology. This field of science began in several national parks in the Southwest: Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins, Chaco Culture, and others. In the early 20th Century, astronomer Andrew Ellicott Douglass developed the methods and began collaborating with archeologists who were interested in ancient Puebloan settlements in the region. By analyzing wood beams in those settlements, scientists have learned when they were built, how they were related to each other, where the wood came from, what the climate was like, and other details. Their scientific analyses complement the generational knowledge and traditional stories of Puebloan people who live in the region today and have sacred connections to many of the sites.
Last updated: November 16, 2023