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Help & guidance Guides to Good Practice

Scope of the guide

Peter Brewer (Laboratory of Tree-Ring ResearchUniversity of Arizona, USA), Esther Jansma (Cultural Heritage Agency and Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Version 1.1 – June 2016, Archaeology Data Service / Digital Antiquity, Guides to Good Practice

This document serves as a good-practice guide for the collection and archiving of dendrochronological data in the context of archaeological and historical research. The guide is aimed at both those creating dendrochronological datasets, and those that commission dendrochronological analyses. This guide does not cover the methods involved in dendrochronological analyses, but focuses on how to describe and archive the data and metadata involved in these analyses. This guide is concerned with best practice for the curation of digital information but does not cover the equally important aspects of the curation of physical samples. However, physical samples are the primary source of information in dendrochronological analyses and should always be managed alongside the digital data wherever possible. This ensures that samples can be re-evaluated where necessary and also re-examined as new analytical techniques are developed.

It is also noted that as this guide is concerned with the management of digital dendrochronological data, it does not cover the issues associated with archiving data produced solely via the ‘skeleton plotting’ and associated methods of dendrochronology. Skeleton plotting is a technique developed by Douglass in the early 20th century and still commonly used, especially in the USA, whereby trees are crossdated using hand-drawn plots on graph paper. Skeleton plotting can be used to provide a dendrochronological date without the generation of any digital data, although it is common to measure samples even after skeleton plotting to enable the calculation of statistics and to facilitate further analyses.