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Measuring household wealth using mound accumulation rates in Skagafjörður, North Iceland

Author(s): Eric Johnson

Year: 2017

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Characterizing inter-household inequalities has long been a fundamental task of archaeology, but a fine-tuned measure of household wealth is often troubled by the inability to account for time or demographics in the archaeological record. This project tests the ways that Iceland, settled by Norse populations between A.D. 870 and 930, provides a temporally-sensitive mode of measuring household wealth through average rates of midden and architectural accumulations while also providing a context for studying the emergence of inequality in a previously uninhabited landscape. In 2014, a deep-coring survey of 11 occupational sites was conducted in the region of Langholt in Skagafjörður, Northern Iceland to supplement shallow-coring data previously collected by the Skagafjörður Archaeological Settlement Survey (SASS). With the aid of tephrachronology, volumetric estimates of cultural accumulations were generated in ArcGIS using site boundaries at A.D 1104 as the aerial extent of cultural volumes. Site occupation duration before A.D. 1104 was then used to calculate average Viking Age accumulation rates. I argue that average accumulation rates can be used as a proxy for household wealth over time. Results confirm a strong relationship between accumulation rates and occupation duration of sites, suggesting that settlement order impacted inter-household inequalities over the longue durée.

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Measuring household wealth using mound accumulation rates in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. Eric Johnson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429353)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16992

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