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Diet and slavery in Viking Age Norway – the potential of isotope analyses of human remains in studies of social differences.

Author(s): Elise Naumann

Year: 2016

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Viking Age Norway was a society structured by clear social differences. Archaeological finds from burials and settlements show a hierarchical distribution of material goods among the Norse, although the distribution of food has traditionally been difficult to trace. In the last few decades, advances in isotope analyses of human remains have made possible a discussion of these aspects, providing information on individual dietary variation. Considering the harsh climate of Scandinavia, the control over and access to different food sources is likely to have been of great significance. By comparing individual dietary composition, it is possible to discuss both the food distribution in relation to social position and the nature of such a distribution.

Six Viking Age burials from Flakstad in Northern Norway have been analysed for isotopic composition, three of them containing remains from more than one individual. The results illuminated a possible differentiation between individuals treated in different ways in the burial context, and also a probable variation in food consumption connected to social position. In this paper I will discuss the possibility of identifying slaves in Viking Age Norway through dietary studies of human remains, exemplified by the isotopic results from the Flakstad study.

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Diet and slavery in Viking Age Norway – the potential of isotope analyses of human remains in studies of social differences.. Elise Naumann. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403136)


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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America