Timber study makes it possible to date the traditional buildings (farms, barns, wine presses, mills, bridge ...) and specify the time variations of relationships between human societies, timber uses and forest management. The studied area is the Durance valley, and, more generally, the southern French Alps. The time window of this study is the medieval times, modern and contemporary periods, when a large amount of material (wood) is available.
The first purpose of this work was to establish a better knowledge of the built heritage, using dendrochronology. We have been highlighting the types of wood used (species, age, size) as well as the trees felling and human construction phases. Given the human occupation and the land use changes, the development of this type of study is essential to preserve the historical track of this fragile heritage, witness of a mountain society in strong relationship with its environment, especially forestry. The second purpose is to develop knowledge of the relationship between buildings and forest. This relationship addresses the issue of the Alpine forests state and forest as a resource, during the last millennium. Human occupation history, in the southern French Alps, is questioned.
To reach these goals, interdisciplinarity has been a necessity. Thus, a dialogue was established with historians, archaeologists, foresters, computer specialists, carpenters, anthracologists, managers, engineers and workers in construction and restoration. In order to overcome the limits of each discipline, dendrochronology has been used to implement an interdisciplinary approach.