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Living landscapes as transitions through time: the making of social identity in the north Atlantic isles

Author(s): Ruth Maher

Year: 2014

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Summary

The peopling of landscapes tends to be viewed as passive and economically focused. In other words, peoples of the past moved into their surroundings for economic benefits and chose land for its agricultural potential alone. Although this research does not intend to argue against the economics of land use and agricultural choices, it does argue that landscapes are not passive backdrops to societal formation and identity. Indeed landscapes play an active role in cosmology, gender, status, age and social memory. Through the use of interdisciplinary data from burials, ancient texts, climate studies, archaeological excavations and landscape surveys incorporated into a GIS, this paper will illustrate the active landscapes of Viking Iceland and show how the surroundings aided in the creation and carrying-out of the burial ritual as well as helping to define the Icelanders as a subculture of Norse society through their use of landscapes. Using the same approach, this research will outline the preliminary results of a similar study, which is in its early stages, bringing to light the social identities reflected thus far in the Orcadian landscape between the Neolithic and Norse periods.


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Living landscapes as transitions through time: the making of social identity in the north Atlantic isles. Ruth Maher. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436755)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-19,05

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