Dendrochronological analysis of the ancient architecture of Kingdom of Lo. Upper Mustang, Nepal

Barbara Gmińska-Nowak, Tomasz Ważny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Upper Mustang is a land of extraordinary, precious, tangible and intangible cultural heritage deeply rooted in the Tibetan culture and tradition of Buddhism as well as the Bön religion. The unique architecture provides a great source of timber suitable for dendrochronological research. Century-old fortresses, palaces, Buddhist monasteries and temples, houses and chörtens reflect the great importance of wood as a building material (used alongside clay and stone). We present pioneering research on historical wood from Upper Mustang. The objectives of the study were to determine the wood species used in the traditional architecture of the region, to make an attempt to date materials from Upper Mustang using existing tree-ring chronologies developed for neighbouring geographical regions and to determine the need and the chance of creating separate tree-ring chronologies for Upper Mustang. For the presented study we collected 191 samples from the oldest buildings preserved in Upper Mustang. Anatomical studies of samples resulted in the identification of four species of conifer wood: Himalayan pine – Pinus wallichiana A.B. Jacks, Himalayan fir – Abies spectabilis D.Don, Juniperus spp. and Larix spp. The main achievement of our research was the development of an Upper Mustang master chronology covering the period from 1317 to 1943. The chronology is based on data derived from Pinus wallichiana A.B. Jacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125701
JournalDendrochronologia
Volume61
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Buddhist architecture
  • Kingdom of Lo
  • Pinuswallichiana A.B. Jacks
  • Upper Mustang
  • dendroarchaeology
  • master chronology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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