Project Title: Tracing History and Environment with Tree Rings in Cyprus
Acronym: TREE
Coordinator: The Cyprus Institute, Cornell University
Type of funding: National
Funding source: The Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Dates: November 2019 - April 2022
Project website

Description: Project “Tracing History and Environment with Tree Rings in Cyprus” (TREE), aims at the systematic application of dendrochronology to provide new knowledge and a better understanding of the Byzantine and Medieval heritage of Cyprus, with a particular focus on the UNESCO World Heritage monuments of Mount Troodos. What is new and unique for Cyprus and the region is the related establishment of a novel dendrochronology lab whose objective is to enrich our approach to the study and preservation of wooden heritage for our knowledge of history and environment. The project’s implementation will strengthen the founding consortium of the “Cyprus Dendrochronology Laboratory”, namely The Cyprus Institute, Cornell University, the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, and the Department of Forests. TREE offers the first systematic application of the scientific method of dendrochronology in Cyprus to study monuments of global significance: The ten churches on Mount Troodos inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. As to the research value and potential of dendrochronology it is worth noting that while the significance of these monuments has been widely recognized, we are in fact remarkably ignorant about their precise chronologies relying on stylistic associations and the occasional written records. Critically, we usually lack a secure timeframe for this material. Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) permits us to unlock and record the temporal dimension of cultural heritage. By combining dendrochronology with digital technologies and the architectural and art-historical context of monuments and artworks, TREE will establish a timeframe for their histories and thus lay the groundwork for further analysis. The project will fundamentally impact scholarly work on the Byzantine/ Medieval period- both for Cyprus and the Mediterranean, to which it is closely connected.