Variability In Levantine Tree-Ring Records And Its Applications In Dendrochronological Dating, Provenancing, And Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction In The Southern Levant
The East Mediterranean littoral (the Levant) is a bioclimatically diverse region with a rich cultural heritage. Such bioclimatic diversity creates important regional variations in vegetation growth and (potentially) human-landscape interactions, and critically impacts how one interprets and uses the region's paleoenvironmental data. This study examines how to use dendrochronology to investigate paleoenvironmental change and date and source historical/archaeological timbers in such a varied landscape, focusing on the southern Levant (southern Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, and the northern Sinai Peninsula). Chapter 1 introduces the Levant's physical geography and climate. I review basic dendrochronological principles and applications in dating, provenancing, and climate reconstruction, and previous dendrochronological research in the Levant. In Chapter 2, I investigate variability in tree-ring growth patterns and climate responses of multiple tree species sampled along ecological gradients in the southern Levant. In Chapter 3, I compare tree-ring growth patterns and climate responses of Pinus halpensis Mill. and Pinus brutia Ten. sampled along bioclimatic gradients in both the southern and northern Levant. Finally, in Chapters 4 and 5, I use dendrochronological techniques to date and source timbers from al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and two late 19th century buildings in Jaffa, Israel. I demonstrate that the northern and southern Levant have distinct tree-ring patterns (with a transition zone located in Lebanon), and that there is clear variability in tree-ring growth along altitudinal gradients in the northern Levant. Consequently tree-ring data from the northern Levant should not be used for reconstructing climate in the southern Levant, especially at high frequency timescales, because of the critical bioclimatic differences and differing climate proxy data that can be derived from treerings along the Levantine latitudinal gradient. Tree-ring chronologies from multiple altitudinal zones in the northern Levant and a separate chronology for the southern Levant should be used for dating historical/archaeological timbers from these regions. One can use these distinct dendrochronological 'zones' to identify whether timber was procured from the northern or southern Levant. Dendrochronological data can then be combined with available archaeological/historical, textual, or other paleoenvironmental data to gain new insights on human use of forest resources from the Levant and beyond.
dendrochronology; southern Levant; paleoenvironment
Goman,Michelle; Fahey,Timothy James; Kuniholm,Peter Ian
Ph.D. of Geological Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis