As the outermost ring closest to the bark is assumed to represent the latest time that the tree was alive, the radiocarbon date obtained from the outermost rings of an olive branch buried during the Santorini volcanic eruption is regarded as crucial evidence for the date of this cataclysmic event.
The date of this eruption has far reaching consequences in the archaeology of the Aegean, Egypt and the Levant, and the understanding of their interconnections.
Four of the dates are in the 1980s (points 1–3 and 11 in Fig.
2) and the earliest sample is from 1975–1976 (point 4 in Fig. There is thus a high probability that the age of the wood just below the bark does not represent the time when the branch was cut and the discrepancy can be as much as 40 years.
Thus the outermost wood layer does not necessarily represent the date of the last year of growth.
These findings challenge the interpretation of the results obtained from dating the olive branch from the Santorini volcanic eruption, as it could predate the eruption by a few decades.
We first analyzed a living branch, which was bearing other smaller branches with many green leaves from an olive tree growing at a location called Havat Hanania in northern Israel (Fig. The branch was cut in 2013, and the tree was likely originally planted in the 1930s.
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In addition, our results are also significant for any future studies based on archaeologically preserved olive wood.
in the Aegean, as well as in Egypt and the Levant, has been debated for decades.