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Life on the Northern Frontier, Bioarchaeological Reconstructions of 11th century Households in the Skagafjörður Region, North Iceland.

Author(s): Kimmarie Murphy ; Guðný Zöega

Year: 2016

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Summary

Iceland was settled in the 9th century by people of Norse and Celtic stock. Located on the margins of the Viking world, the Skagafjörður region was, by the 11th century, home to a large number of independent households forming core social units in a country without a king or central government. Although they maintained close ties with their old home world, ship arrivals were erratic and individual households were largely dependent on their own produce for survival. Early settlers lived in a perpetual state of flux due to their sub-arctic environment. Seasonal weather fluctuations affected harvests and livestock viability. Volcanic eruptions and sea-ice posed additional hardships. Their pagan religion was being replaced with Christianity, leading to potential changes in social stratification and identity. Evidence for their biocultural responses to this stressful environment may be gleaned from early Christian household cemeteries. This paper will discuss the bioarchaeology of the Viking-age/medieval households interred in the earliest Christian cemeteries in the Skagafjörður region. Unlike earlier pagan burial fields, the first Christian cemeteries were "all-inclusive", including both sexes and all age groups. What do these cemeteries tell us about the social realities, health and survival of frontier populations at the edge of the arctic?


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Life on the Northern Frontier, Bioarchaeological Reconstructions of 11th century Households in the Skagafjörður Region, North Iceland.. Kimmarie Murphy, Guðný Zöega. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403928)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Europe


Spatial Coverage

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