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Published: 04 Dec, 2020

SEK 7.7 million to develop the Archaeology Database SEAD

NEWS In its annual call for infrastructure projects, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond has granted SEK 7,728,000 to significantly develop the availability of data from tree ring analyses from laboratories in Sweden.

Text: Per Melander

A large part of our cultural heritage consists of wood, a material that has been used in buildings, boats and tools for thousands of years.

The project is a collaboration between the National Laboratory for Wood Anatomy and Dendrochronology (LWD) in Lund, the Environmental Archaeology Laboratory in Umeå (MAL), the Tree Ring Laboratory in Stockholm (TRL), the University of Gothenburg Laboratory for Dendrochronology (GOLD) and the Dendrochronological Laboratory at SLU in Alnarp (DELA), Dendrochronological data in SEAD, with systems development at Humlab in Umeå.

The project will be led by Dan Hammarlund at the Department of Geology in Lund and will run for four years. The aim is to digitize and make available data from over 40,000 wood sample analyses that contain information about age, cultural history, climate and environmental changes over thousands of years.

The infrastructure SEAD (Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database) will also be prepared for handling information from new analysis methods, including the research infrastructure MAX IV, and in the long term ESS.

From the project description:

A large part of our cultural heritage consists of wood, a material that has been used in buildings, boats and tools for thousands of years. The Swedish landscape is associated with forests, forestry and wooden architecture. The trees' growth rings are archives in themselves, where natural changes and human impact on the environment are preserved and enable analysis with annual precision.

The National Laboratory for Wood Anatomy and Dendrochronology (LWD) in Lund will, in collaboration with archaeologists and dendrochronological research units at four other universities, lead a national initiative to make data available from all scientifically analysed artefacts, structures and natural wood objects for international research.

The Open Access research infrastructure SEAD (Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database) will be used for the digitization and publication of raw data, reference series, dating, wood species determinations, metadata and interpreted variables, such as provenance, cultural context, environment and climate.

A pilot study has been carried out, procedures have been established and the time required to digitize the ca 40,000 samples in LWD's analogue archive estimated, a model that will be applied to other dendro data. Together with an established reference group, the project's collaborating parties stand as guarantors for international coverage, as well as interaction with societal actors and strategic support from the Swedish cultural environment.

The Riksbank's Jubilee Fund is an independent foundation whose purpose is to promote and support humanities and social science research.

Project Leader:

Dan Hammarlund

SEAD Director:

Philip Buckland