Interdisciplinary tree-ring research in the Republic of Tuva (18 July to 02 August 2017)

Together with a team of Russian archaeologists and ecologists from Karsnoyarsk, Ulf Büntgen (Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis) was conducting fieldwork in the remote Republic of Tuva at the border between southern Siberia and northern Mongolia. During their two-week expedition, the interdisciplinary team was mainly searching for living trees and subfossil wood that can be used to improve and prolong existing climate reconstructions. The Republic of Tuva was chosen as it represents an important part of the homeland of nomadic step empires, such as the Scythians, Huns, Turks and Mongols. The role climate might have played in the rise and fall of these ancient, inner Eurasia cultures, however, remains unknown. Tuva’s extremely continental climate allows scientists to develop temperature and drought sensitive tree-ring chronologies from the upper and lower treeline ecotones, respectively.

Based on a variety of different techniques, the newly collected material will be analysed both, in Krasnoyarsk as well as in Cambridge. The outcome is expected to help better understanding the causes and consequences of natural temperature variability during the last 2-3 millennia. The group is also optimistic to contribute to the development of novel tree-ring records, which will enable the absolute dating of archaeological remains from some of the most famous Scythian “kurgan” burials, including Arzhan I and II.