Hierarchy and Human Securities in Norse Vatnahverfi, South Greenland - A Case Study

Author(s): Christian Madsen

Year: 2015


Greenland was settled by Norse hunter-farmers in the decades around AD 1000. Two fjord systems were populated: South Greenland formed the largest settlement area that lasted until c. AD 1450, the smaller Norse settlement area in present day Nuuk fjord being abandoned c. 100 years earlier. New detailed archaeological settlement evidence from the Vatnahverfi-a core settlement area in the Norse Eastern Settlement-is explored in terms of environmental- and food securities relating to community level social hierarchy, labor access, and farming practices. The Vatnahverfi evidence suggests that increasing social stratification may initially have fortified food- and environmental securities in the upper societal stratum, and thereby boosted short-term resilience. Long-term, however, negative effects of tapping into and reducing the resilience and adaptive capacity of lower societal strata may ultimately have cascaded up through the system to undermine or affect the adaptive choices available to all social strata and the settlements as a whole. This could have exacerbated the negative effects of a climatic and environmental deterioration preluding the 'Little Ice Age' that may otherwise have been endured.

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Cite this Record

Hierarchy and Human Securities in Norse Vatnahverfi, South Greenland - A Case Study. Christian Madsen. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397009)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;