Revealing Rings - Y Magazine
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Revealing Rings

sp08_Bekker 0801-15 045(LP4C)In 1854 the pioneers built the “old tabernacle bowery” when it became clear that the Adobe Tabernacle—forerunner of the Salt Lake Tabernacle—was too small. Knowing that desert communities often reuse old timbers, Church historians asked geography professor Matthew F. Bekker (BS ’94) to determine if any timbers from the bowery were used to construct today’s tabernacle. Using dendrochronology—or tree-ring dating—on timbers removed during the 2005 renovation, Bekker found that a few timbers may have been reused. He also found evidence for the environmental struggles of the early Saints: the rings for 1846, 1847, and 1848 were significantly narrow, indicating extremely dry years during the Saints’ settling period. “We have diary records saying how difficult it was to get crops going,” says Bekker, “and now we have evidence of why.”