Beyond a Record of Environmental Change: The Influence of Variability in Peat Composition on the Archaeological Record in Viking Age Iceland
Author(s): Alicia Sawyer
Research suggests non-woody resources, such as peat, can serve as unique repositories of environmental change. This paper discusses how peat serves such a role, and sheds light on the how these processes affect the archaeological record, an aspect of environmental change that has been overlooked. During the colonization of Iceland in the 9th century AD, early Icelanders (Vikings) began to affect and be affected by local environments. Viking colonization led to rapid deforestation of woodland resources, resulting in soil loss and increased aeolian deposition. As wood was scarce, peat and turf were commonly used as fuel sources and construction materials in Iceland. Due to the ubiquity of these materials, changes in the quality of peat and turf potentially influenced past human behavior (i.e., fuel selection, resource management, and waste production) and the archaeological record (i.e., waste disposal, farm mound development, and landscape alteration). Using micromorphology and geochemical analyses on experimentally combusted peat from a continuous bog sequence, this research will identify compositional changes and shifts in fuel quality over time. These data will provide information on resource access, wealth distribution, site formation processes, and human-environment interactions.
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Beyond a Record of Environmental Change: The Influence of Variability in Peat Composition on the Archaeological Record in Viking Age Iceland. Alicia Sawyer. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443396)
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min long: -26.016; min lat: 53.54 ; max long: 31.816; max lat: 80.817 ;
Abstract Id(s): 22444