The History of the World Written in Tree-Rings

Charlotte Pearson
Tuesdays 10 AM – 12 PM
August 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2023
Watch the video to learn more about this course

The History of the World Written in Tree-Rings

Summer 2023
In Session
10 AM – 12 PM
August 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2023


Main Campus



This course will focus on the scientific field of dendrochronology (from dendron=tree and chronos=time), or tree-ring science, and what it can tell us about the past, present and future. We will explore the fascinating history of how the science was developed by a pioneering astronomer interested in solar cycles; how it works; how it has fed into other disciplines such as radiocarbon dating, art history and climatology, and how its applications have led to transformative discoveries about the past. We will look at what tree-rings can tell us about the rise and fall of civilizations, climate change, migration, trade, settlement history and natural hazards. The course will also include a personalized guided tour of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and Tree-Ring Archive.

Attend ON-CAMPUS or Online
— Hybrid Course Format —

  • All classes will be delivered on-campus and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • On-Campus classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All students enrolled to attend in person also have complete online access and may choose to attend one or all class sessions remotely if desired.
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. A high-speed internet connection and a device capable of running Zoom are required to connect. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • Class Recordings - All HSP classes are recorded and available for every enrolled student to watch for the duration of the course and one month after the last class session. This option is offered to aid students who cannot attend the live class times but desire to enroll and participate asynchronously. We hope this option also aids students who are traveling or have a necessary appointment that conflicts with a class session to stay connected and engaged with the course material.

Registration Will Open Online:
Monday, April 10, 2023, at 8 AM (AZ Time)

Required Reading: 

  • No textbook is required. All readings will be distributed to students electronically. 

Recommended Reading: 

  • Baillie, M. G. (2012). A Slice Through Time: Dendrochronology and Precision Dating. Routledge.
  • Trouet, V. (2020). Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings. JHU Press.
  • Webb, G. E. (1983). Tree Rings and Telescopes. The Scientific Career of AE Douglass. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Meet Your Professor

Associate Professor
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

Charlotte Pearson is a dendroarchaeologist trained in environmental archaeology, geoarchaeology and archaeological science. Her research focuses on developing new methodologies for the improvement of archaeological chronology and the synchronization of interdisciplinary evidence. Specifically, the use of tree-rings, radiocarbon and other proxies in combination with diverse cultural records to study global/regional events of significance for past human societies. In particular sudden onset climatic changes and/or volcanic events and the chronologies associated with these.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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