The validity of the European chronology
The case of the stem of the Trier Amphitheater Arenakeller

by Lars-Åke Larsson & Petra Ossowski Larsson
In a previous section we have shown how the Hollstein Roman time ring width data matches towards data of later time. The match shown implies a removal of 207 years from our current calender.

This might be considered an astonishing and unacceptable disclosure, so what can be wrong with the data that shows such a thing?

A potential source of error might be that people who lived in the time after the fall of Rome, reused wood taken from old Roman-time buildings. Then, when Hollstein found a construction that was dated by archeologists to the 7th century, he thought that all the wood was of that time. So when calculating the mean value curve he mixed data of wood from very different times. This might explain why we see the growth pattern of Hollsteins data for the period AD 203-336 being repeated 207 years later in the period AD 410-543.

Most of the Hollstein data is presented as mean value curves - where a mix of wood from different times might have occured.

Though, there is also the curve of the single stem taken out of the Arenakeller of the Trier Amphitheatre! With a curve from a single stem there is no risk that wood of different times has been mixed!

The Roman Amphitheatre of Trier

Image credit: Mike Reed.
The Roman Amphitheatre of Trier, dates back to the first century AD. It could seat up to 25.000 people and has been used for gladiator fights and animal contests. Underneath the arena is a vast basement where gladiators, criminals, and exotic beasts were kept prior to their release into the arena. The site was used as a quarry in the Middle Ages. Today, the amphitheatre area is used for the Antiquity Festival and open-air concerts. Ref.:

According to dendrochronological dating by Ernst Hollstein, the stage machinery in the basement dates to the time around AD 290. Hollstein collected wood samples from the stage machinery and the basement construction. The basement was at that time filled with water, which had preserved the wood. The basement had to be emptied from water to allow for archeological and dendrochronological sample collection.

Long time after the end of the west Roman empire during the late Merovingian time, around AD700 the theater came into new use and the stage machinery was renovated. - This is at least the story given by Ernst Hollstein as he has found a stem with 227 rings where he dated the outermost available ring to AD 668. There is no doubt on this dating - the matching towards the rest of his collection is corrCoeff=0.6 and T-value=10 - extremely good values! Though a modern crossdating with a computer reveals that he missed two rings near AD 610, so a correct dating of the stem should be AD 670. Though as sap wood was not left, Hollstein assumed the felling year of the stem to be around AD 694.

Now we may wonder how it came that people living around AD700 started to renovate a machinery that was some 400 years old.

What was the status of that basement in that time? Was it all kept in order or was it filled with water - keeping the wood from become rotten. If so they emptied the basement from water and renovated the construction.

Why do we dwell on these speculations on that single stem of that machinery?

It is because that stem matches perfectly not only to AD 670 but also to the Hollstein data 207 years earlier with its oldest segment towards the time AD 236-336, i.e. to the mean value of four stems of the Köln Rheinbrücke dated to AD 336 (ref 3) and also to other wood of that early - and Roman - time!

Is this stem a witness of a 207 years jump in our chronology? With the stem's late end safely anchored in late Merovingian time and its early end anchored to the foundation poles of the Roman bridge built by the Roman emperor Konstantin at the dawn of the West Roman Empire?!

Matching the stem from the Trier Amphitheater Arenakeller towards Hollstein's late time data (as dated to AD 670)

First we will look at how the ring width curve of the stem from the Trier Amphitheater Arenakeller matches towards a mean value of the rest of Hollstein's data from the Merovingian time. The stem is named TRAM in our Hollstein data collection. As mentioned above we found that Hollstein missed two rings near AD610, so these have been added as zero rings and the curve is now named TRAMZZ.
This is quite a good match which we find little reason to question. The red digits along the bottom of the diagram are (mostly) high correlation coefficient values for 20 year long segments (blocks) of data with 10 years on each side of the printed value. The black digits along the bottom of the diagram indicate the number of other Hollstein curves used to create the black/blue mean-value reference curve.
Matching the stem (dated to AD 442-670) from the Trier Amphitheater Arenakeller towards Hollstein's Roman time curve ending in AD 336

We will now look at how this stem matches towards the late Roman time data of Hollstein, mainly represented by the mean value of four stems from the Roman bridge at Cologne. In an old document that bridge is described as built in AD 310 but dated by both Hollstein and current German dendrochronologists to AD 336 (ref 4).

The black curves, coming in from the left, represent late Roman time data, in its youngest part represented by the mean value curve of four stems of the Köln Rheinbrücke (KORB), with wood dated to the period AD 149-336. The red curve, extending out to the right, represents the single stem from the Trier Amphitheater Arenakeller dated to AD 442-670.
The overlap is 100 years. The correlation coefficient is in the range 0.43-0.57 depending on normalization method used, and the T-value is in the range 4.7-6.8.

The red curve represents a single stem where the data cannot be mistakenly created out of wood from different times!
The match implies, that when we are looking at data of the periods AD 236-336 and AD 443-543, then we are looking at data from the same time!
The match could of course be caused by a growth pattern being repeated by Mother Nature. Repeating growth patterns occur, but are not common. Anyhow, we think that the very spectacular historical consequences of this match - if it is correct - justify an effort in clearing out whether it actually is correct or not. For such an investigation more data has to be revealed. There is indeed some data available in archives, e.g. that of the Cologne bridge which is kept secret, see ref 4.


Is the current paradigm of exactly 1000 years between AD 1 and AD 1000 too solid to be at all questioned?

If we cannot accept the idea of 207 invented years in our chronology, what does that imply in relation to the Hollstein data?

The Hollstein curve has apparently been the base of middle European dendrochronology since it was published in 1980 (e.g. ref 1). Local curves have since then been developed that overall match quite well towards the Hollstein curve. That way a concept of "replication" (ref 2) has been built up where curves from different regions and different countries match each other to quite a high extent. That replication is today argued as a proof that overall the Hollstein curve is correct with its concept of 1000 years between year 1 and year 1000 and its absolute dating of West Roman time wood.

Then - with modern computers - we can today find a long duplicated pattern within the Hollstein data so that a question on invented years can be raised! From that we draw the conclusion that current tree ring curves for middle Europe connecting the period around AD 100 to AD 1000 are built on sand! Maybe they are anyhow correct - but that is not because of the crossdating used by Hollstein - but instead because the current chronology happens anyhow to be correct.

Having this repeated pattern covering actually some 130 years and with the Hollstein and Becker crossdatings severely questioned, we think that these things should be openly cleared out!

The current secretiveness in publishing data is unscientific!

1. Jansma, E.: RemembeRINGs. The Development and Application of Local and Regional Tree-Ring Chronologies of Oak for the Purposes of Archaeological and Historical Research in the Netherlands. Amsterdam 1995. ISBN 90-73104-26-2. Page 18.
2. Baillie, M.G.L.: A slice through time. London 1995. ISBN 0713476540. Page 21.
3.Wikipedia German version on the Roman bridge at Cologne
4.The first Rhein bridge at Cologne has been the target of more excavations: A pdf file (roemerzeit.pdf) about the project webcite
January 1 2010. Lars-Åke Larsson, Petra Ossowski Larsson
Updated February 17 2010.

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