Although dendrochronological methods have the potential to provide precise calendar dates, they are virtually absent in Mesoamerican archaeological research. This absence is due to several long-standing, but erroneous, assumptions: that tree rings in this region do not reflect annual growth and environmental variability, that an adequate number of samples do not exist, and that tree-ring measurements cannot be useful without modern trees to link prehispanic chronologies. In this article we present data from the sites of La Quemada and Los Pilarillos, located in the Malpaso Valley, Zacatecas, to demonstrate that suitable archaeologically derived samples of dendrochronologically useful species do exist, that the samples from these sites are measurable and cross-datable, and that the tree rings can yield precise calendar dates using a method that wiggle-matches radiocarbon dates on tree-ring sequences. The work demonstrates the potential of these methods to address chronological, and, in the future, climatic questions, which have so far eluded archaeological work in the region.
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