Jump to Main Content
Missing link in Late Antiquity? A critical examination of Hollstein’s Central European Oak Chronology
- Rzepecki, Andreas, Neyses-Eiden, Mechthild, Frank, Thomas, Diethelm, Barbara, Herzig, Franz, Tegel, Willy
- Dendrochronologia 2019 v.54 pp. 20-28
- dendrochronology, trees, Belgium, France, Germany
- In 1980 Ernst Hollstein published his Central European Oak Chronology, which covers a period from 724 BCE to 1974 CE. Besides a later correction of the end date of the sampling site chronologies Kirnsulzbach (Germany) and Gustavsburg (Germany) this master chronology has since not been changed and still remains one of the most important bases for dendrochronological dating in western Germany. It stands out in so far as it provides comprehensive graphical findspot series for each individual sampled site and year to year growth values for eight regional sub-chronologies in addition to the combined Central European reference curve.Particularly due to the fact of Hollstein’s chronology being publicly available, it has frequently been criticized for its insufficient data to bridge the Late Antiquity between 350 and 400 CE with only three sampling sites (tomb near Beerlegem, Belgium; tomb inside of Cologne Cathedral, Germany; subfossil trees near Broichweiden, Germany) and that these site chronologies cover those decades with inadequate correlation coefficients. With regard to recent statistical threshold values for crossdating, Hollstein’s Late Antiquity bridging needs to be reconsidered.Therefore, in a combined effort, the dendrochronological laboratories at Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier (RLM), the University of Cologne and Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg re-evaluated Hollstein’s findings for Late Antiquity by including the respective dendrochronological examinations conducted in Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and north-eastern France during the past 40 years. A total of 62 site chronologies were compiled to establish a new Late Antiquity chronology. Thirteen of these site chronologies could be used to support Hollstein’s original bridging series between 350 and 400 CE while the mean series for Broichweiden had to be corrected from end date 365 to 503 CE. Furthermore, this new bridging chronology could be validated by comparing it to an independent chronology from southern Germany. This study thus proves that the integrity of Hollstein’s Central European Oak Chronology is not compromised by a flawed Late Antiquity bridging and that therefore dating based on the Roman part of this chronology can still be considered as absolute.