In the spirit of the Open Science, the XRONOS project aims at developing a worldwide unique and novel database, to compile and manage the two most important forms of absolute chronological information – radiocarbon and dendrochronological data – to enable a multitude of transdisciplinary research projects on population dynamics, human-environmental dependencies and thus fundamental transformations in the past.

A new door has been opened to previously hidden absolute knowledge that once again will reduce the amount of qualified guessing and thus both refine and redefine theory and interpretation.

Kristiansen 2014 on the Third Science Revolution in Archaeology

Background

Archaeology today can no longer gain knowledge about social, cultural and economic processes of past societies without scientific absolute-chronological methods and their wide application. The large number of dates available today require appropriate tools to manage them and make them accessible. Based on that, data modelling can be used as a method to draw conclusions from a variety of individually information-weak data. Both are decisive, but not yet sufficiently implemented prerequisites to reach an understanding of the temporal phenomena and dynamics in past societies (Kristiansen, 2014). However, the basis of any empirically based modelling is the availability of data: Currently, all scientific disciplines face a revolution in the way data is disseminated and used (Bronk Ramsey et al., 2019). This novel, cross-disciplinary circulation and utilisation makes it possible to deal with completely new scientific questions and makes archaeological data relevant in thoroughly new contexts. An important source of such information is absolute chronological data. The two most important absolute-chronological methods are dendrochronology (tree-rings) and radiocarbon dating (14C method).

Dendrochronological dates

These dates provide year-accurate dating of preserved wooden material (construction woods, tools, even charcoal), a unique temporal high-resolution information of prehistoric societies.

Radiocarbon dates (14C)

Where dendrochronology is not applicable, 14C offers the best alternative, providing probabilistic results of dating of a broad range of organic material. Since sampling material is abundant and less sensitive to preservation conditions the method is particularly useful for data driven temporal models.

Mission

Without repositories, most comprehensive analyses are no longer feasible. To date, there is no overarching database that continuously compiles both, 14C and dendrochronological data and makes them accessible in a long-term perspective. XRONOS aim to establish such an open access database. Our primary goal is to collect 14C and dendrochronological data for Switzerland and neighbouring countries as extensively and comprehensively as possible. The project is designed to be extended beyond the spatial focus as soon as possible.

News

  • XRONOS database significantly expanded
    The last month of our work on XRONOS focused on the expansion of the dataset. In this turn, we have performed a re-import from publicly available sources, which has more than doubled the dataset, and significantly expanded the spatial extent of our data collection.
  • XRONOS gets a new Look and Feel
    Since August 2021, XRONOS now has a completely new layout, which we hope will significantly improve and facilitate the use of our database.
  • R package for XRONOS available
    To improve the use of data repositories, it is becoming increasingly important that the data is easily and quickly available to the appropriate analysis tools.
  • XRONOS DB Online
    As of today, our team, especially Joe Roe, has completed the first important step towards realising the goals of XRONOS: the installation and release of the pilot version of the database! You can access the XRONOS DB at http://xronos.ch.
  • XRONOS Project funded by the SNF
    On 6th of November 2020, we received the good news that the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) will support and fund the XRONOS project. XRONOS is now officially listed under project number IZCOZ0_198153 and we can start our work. We are very grateful that the SNSF has given us this opportunity!