The Dendrochronological Laboratory of the Institute of Latvian History, University of Latvia, is currently the only research unit in Latvia engaged in dendro-dating of timbers from historical structures and developing long absolute tree-ring chronologies. This work has been undertaken since the beginning of the 1990s, mainly involving preserved historic timbers from Latvia. Up to 2022, a total of 165 wooden structures from 70 sites have been absolutely dated at the laboratory. Most of the wooden structures so far dated have been discovered in the course of archaeological excavation (primarily in Old Riga, as well as in Cēsis, Jelgava, Ventspils, Krustpils and Āraiši). Also dated are structures preserved on various architectural sites in Old Riga, Aizpute, Āraiši, Bauska, Cēsis, Gaujiena, Liepāja, Ludza, Rundāle, Sigulda, Turaida, Valmiera and Ventspils. The dated historical structures include structures in various residential buildings and churches, the wooden foundations of masonry buildings, former river and canal revetments, a slope reinforcement, latrines, wells, wooden water pipe systems, remains of a jetty, corduroy street surfaces as well as the base of a defensive rampart of the city of Riga. The absolute age has also been determined for some oak supports of 17th- and 18th-century paintings, as well as charcoal from an early-18th-century charcoal kiln in present-day Tukums Municipality. The Dendrochronological Laboratory has also obtained absolute tree-ring chronologies for pine from 13 present-day forest stands at various locations in Latvia.

The Dendrochronological Laboratory is engaged in work on long chronologies for three indigenous tree species. These are the species that were formerly most widely used for construction: Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.). The absolute pine chronologies so far developed cover the period from the 10th century AD up to the present day; the chronologies for spruce cover the 16th to 19th century; and the oak chronologies cover the period from the 10th to the 18th century. A large proportion of the historical structures built in Old Riga are of pine supplied along the Daugava waterway from forests growing along the river’s upper reaches as well as from the Dnieper and perhaps even the Volga basin. In such cases, dendrochronology is also utilised for ascertaining the source area of the timber.

The Dendrochronological Laboratory maintains close contacts with several dendro-labs in other countries of Europe. Practical collaboration with colleagues in Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom has proved very important for dating and sourcing timber that has been exported or floated over long distances. Practical work has begun to re-format and prepare the dendrochronological information obtained at the laboratory for inclusion in databases in Latvia and abroad.

The work of the laboratory is reflected in presentations at research conferences in Latvia and 16 other countries. More than 100 publications have been written on issues relating to dendrochronology, as well as on other methods of dating artefacts and on forest history in Latvia.


Address: Kalpaka bulvāris 4, Rīga LV-1050, Room 123.

Head of the laboratory: Māris Zunde, Dr. biol.
Phone +371 67034871, email: 
Research interests: dendrochronology, dendroclimatology, forest history in Latvia