Project Part 13: Dendrochronology



A.Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Kurt Nicolussi


Mag. Andrea Thurner
Mag. Thomas Pichler

current diploma thesis:

Mag. Angela Fodor(working title: Dendrochronological Analysis on mining timber from the Schwaz / Brixlegg district)

finished diploma thesis:

Lukas Furtenbach (Dendrochronological Analysis on subfossil logs (spruce and larch) from the Mitterberg district, Salzburg)
Michael Lechner (Untersuchung zum Einfluss der neuzeitlichen Gletscherentwicklung auf den Bergbau in den Hohen Tauern)
Stefan Unterrader (Dendrochronologische Untersuchungen an historischen Bergbauhölzern vom Südtiroler Schneeberg)


University of Innsbruck
Institute of Geography
Innrain 52
A-6020 Innsbruck

Publications, Abstracts & Talks



Wood was an essential raw-material in prehistoric and historic mining and it was used in many ways, among other things e.g. to establish buildings, heading constructions respectively mining infrastructure, tools, as firewood in mining and for melting of ore. Relicts of these timbers used in mining have persisted especially from the medieval period and modern times, but also from earlier times. On the one hand dendrochronological analysis of this wooden material enables precise dating as well as, in co-operation with archaeological and historical investigations, chronological acquisition of mining activities and on the other hand the tree-ring data enable us to analyse environmental and climatic changes accurate dated and in high resolution. The potential of dendrochronological analysis of wood found in prehistoric and historic mining areas in Tyrol has remained unattended for a long time. In adjacent areas, the number of such investigations is still limited as well (e.g. Ruoff and Trivun 1998, 2000, Grabner et al. 2005). One possible reason was the lack of a database for the dating of prehistoric samples. However, such multi-millennial chronologies for the conifer species Pinus cembra and Larix decidua have been established recently. It can be used for dating purposes as well as for studies of climatic and environmental events and changes (Nicolussi et al. 2004). With this multi-millennial data-base new results by the analysis of mining timber can be expected. In the first part of the SFB following objectives are planned:

  • Establishment of a tree-ring database for the Tyrol adapted from dendrochronological analysis of prehistoric and historic mining timber.
  • Dendrochronological dating of samples in close co-operation with the archaeological project parts (pp06, pp07)
  • Investigation of high-alpine mining utilisation in the region of the Tyrol related to the environmental situation.
  • Dendroclimatological analysis of established (within the SFB) and existing tree-ring data to reconstruct past environmental and climatic changes in mining areas.


Work in Progress

To meet the set objectives samples from following mining areas are of main interest:

Mitterberger Hauptgang
•  subfossil logs: Troiboden, Oberer Wildensee / Vorderkeil, Langmoos;
•  historic timber: Bergbau Flachenberg, remains from a former charcoal stack at the region Vorderkeil

• Prehistoric mining timber stored in the local museum and samples from renewed archaeological excavations
•  modern timber: Kelchalm, Jochberg

 Schwaz / Brixlegg
•  subfossil logs (partially from a ore-processing site): Schwarzenbergmoos
•  remains of fuelwood: fire-set pit Mauk E
•  modern timber: pit MaukE, Kieszeche, Sagzeche, Moosschrofen, mining timber from different sites located in the Schwaz / Brixlegg district (stored in museums of local history), Nachtschattenhof

•  subfossil logs: Bartholomäberg
•  historic timber: Knappagruaba

•  modern timber: mining timber from the Schneeberg district



Mining timber extracted from former excavations is mainly stored in museums of local history. A cooperation with these museums (see below) is existing:

Museum Kitzbühel (Dr. Wido Sieberer)
Bergbau- und Heimatmuseum Jochberg (Kustos Georg Jöchl †)
Bergbau- und Hüttenmuseum Brixlegg (Dipl. Ing. Robert Stibich)

further cooperation:

Dipl. Ing.
 Robert Stibich (Brixlegger Montanwerke, Brixlegg)
Robert Pils (Verein Montandenkmal Arthurstollen, Bischofshofen)
Peter Radacher (Grundeigentümer, Mitterberg)
Trivun Sormaz (Archäologischer Dienst Graubünden, Chur )
Dr. Andreas Rudigier (Montafoner Museen)
Dr. Michael Grabner (Institute of Wood Science and Technology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna)
Dipl. Prähist. Willy Tegel (Institute of Forest growth, University of Freiburg)
Dr. Eva Fischer (owner of the court Nachtschattenhof)



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