The Early Bronze Age dendrochronology of Sovjan (Albania): A first tree-ring sequence of the 24th – 22nd c. BC for the southwestern Balkans

Maczkowski, Andrej; Bolliger, Matthias; Ballmer, Ariane; Gori, Maja; Lera, Petrika; Oberweiler, Cécile; Szidat, Sönke; Touchais, Gilles; Hafner, Albert (2021). The Early Bronze Age dendrochronology of Sovjan (Albania): A first tree-ring sequence of the 24th – 22nd c. BC for the southwestern Balkans. Dendrochronologia, 66, p. 125811. Elsevier 10.1016/j.dendro.2021.125811

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The archaeological site of Sovjan is situated on the edge of the Korçë Basin, southeastern Albania. Its remarkably long and well investigated stratigraphic sequence, spanning from the Neolithic till the Iron Age, makes it an important type- and reference-site for the whole region. At different periods of prehistory it was located on the shores of the former Lake Maliq that once filled the Korçë Basin, but was definitely drained in the 1940's. These permanent wetland conditions on the site allowed for a high degree of preservation of organic material, especially wood. Based on the current knowledge, level 8 of Sovjan contains the best-preserved wooden material of all the Early Bronze Age sites in the Balkans. Through the combination of dendrochronology and Bayesian modelling, i.e. wiggle-matching, a floating 269-years long tree-ring chronology was constructed, with an absolute end-date range falling between 2158 and 2142 cal BC (2σ). It was possible to establish that the dwellings and the trackway associated with the last occupation phase of level 8 are contemporaneous. Additionally, with the help of the new dendrochronological data and based on previously published charcoal dates, the absolute chronology of the subsequent level 7 is being narrowed-down to a range from the mid-22nd to mid-20th c. cal BC (2σ). The Early Bronze Age layers of the archaeological site of Sovjan, which are particularly pertinent for the 3rd millennium chronology of the southwestern Balkans, can now be dated with high precision for the first time and hence offer a major chronological reference point in the region.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Maczkowski, Andrej, Bolliger, Matthias, Ballmer, Ariane Thu, Szidat, Sönke, Hafner, Albert


500 Science > 540 Chemistry
900 History
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)






[UNSPECIFIED] European Research Council - Synergy Grant 810586 ; [UNSPECIFIED] French Ministry of Foreign Affairs


[UNSPECIFIED] Franco-Albanian Korçë Basin Archaeological Expedition




Andrej Maczkowski

Date Deposited:

11 Feb 2021 14:58

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:46

Publisher DOI:





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