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Fascinating review in climate and ecology

Klaus Tschira Foundation supports expansion of the Laboratory for Dendrochronology at CEZA into an international research archive.

Kirsten Schwabe

Mit der Förderung des Projekts „Sicherung und Archivierung der Hohenheimer Jahrringsammlung“ legte die Klaus Tschira Stiftung den Grundstein für das Labor für Dendrochronologie am Curt Engelhorn Zentrum Archäometrie (CEZA). Mit einer weiteren dreijährigen Förderung unterstützt die Stiftung ab Januar 2023 den Ausbau des Labors zu einem internationalen Forschungsarchiv.By funding the project “Securing and Archiving the Hohenheim Tree Ring Collection”, the Klaus Tschira Foundation laid the foundation for the Laboratory for Dendrochronology at the Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry (CEZA). With a further three-year grant, the foundation has been supporting the expansion of the laboratory into an international research archive since January 2023.

The Hohenheim tree ring collection is one of the world’s oldest and most renowned climate archives and consists of about 35,000 wood samples. The historical, archaeological and subfossil woods (cores and slices) are a few centimeters thick and have diameters of up to one and a half meters. They come mainly from Germany, but also from other parts of Central Europe. Some of them are thousands of years old. The special thing about them is that their annual ring patterns allow conclusions to be drawn about the climate of their growth period.

It took six years to move the approximately 3,000 boxes to Mannheim, Germany, to the CEZA and to create a physical dendrochronological archive. Here, the wood samples are now stored adequately, newly and properly packaged. In the newly established dendrochronological laboratory, researchers will determine the age of the samples and reconstruct earlier climatic and ecological developments.

To make this possible, the wood samples are now being viewed, processed and catalogued. In addition, a uniform digital database system is being set up – a task that will take some time, as the Hohenheim data are still largely available as index cards or text files.

Figures, data, facts

  • Accompanying documents on paper: approx. 80 file folders
  • Uncataloged and archived wood samples: ca. 4,000
  • Unsorted entries without metadata: ca. 2,000-4,000
  • Entries to be checked for consistency, completeness, and accuracy in previous database PINE with Excel lists: ca. 35,000
  • Metadata available on index cards: approx. 5,000
  • Measurement series to be digitized that are available on paper: approx. 3,000
  • Data on floppy disks: approx. 1,150 (3.5 and 5.25 inch)
  • Sorting images: approx. 40,000
  • Cataloging of unnamed images: approx. 10,000