Icelandic Livestock Improvement and an Emerging National Identity: Biometrical and Genetic Markers of a New Landscape

Author(s): George Hambrecht; Kevin Gibbons

Year: 2015


Early in the settlement of Iceland, social perceptions were imported along with herds of livestock primarily from Norway. Cultural identity and agricultural traditions can influence and react upon each other. Iceland provides a unique location to explore these intersections as an island intellectually connected to Europe but isolated from significant trade routes. An exploration of Iceland’s rich literary tradition suggests that the Icelandic social landscape coalesced and matured from the early settlement period into a new national identity with an ideological state apparatus related to the Church. During this process, statistically significant improvements to the size of livestock were occurring. The increase in the size of domestic animals across Europe has often been characterized as a result of the Second Agricultural Revolution. However, biometrical data from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries suggest that significant increases in the size of caprine and bovine bone dimensions were occurring in the late medieval period. The possibilities of new aDNA data from Icelandic faunal remains are also discussed with a goal towards refining our understanding of the change in body size and population of livestock in Iceland throughout the millennium in comparison to our deeper understanding of similar processes across Europe.

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Cite this Record

Icelandic Livestock Improvement and an Emerging National Identity: Biometrical and Genetic Markers of a New Landscape. Kevin Gibbons, George Hambrecht. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395084)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;