Imagined Forests: Woodlands and Wood Resources in Medieval Icelandic Literary, Documentary and Archaeological Sources
Author(s): Dawn Elise Mooney
This is an abstract from the "SANNA v2.2: Case Studies in the Social Archaeology of the North and North Atlantic" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Medieval literary sources describe the Icelandic landscape when the first settlers arrived as ‘forested from the mountains to the shores’. It had previously been thought that the island was rapidly deforested after settlement, but recent research gives a much more nuanced picture of woodland history. It is becoming clear that while woodland declined in some regions, other woodland areas were preserved, especially for the production of charcoal for high-status farms. This poster compares archaeological, palaeoenvironmental, historical and literary sources to discuss how Icelandic wood resources were used and managed, both physically and in terms their perception by the saga writers and their audiences. Data from analyses of wood charcoal and wooden artefacts are used to interrogate literary depictions of wood resources, which provide a view of the settlement-era Icelandic landscape as seen through the lens of the elites who produced them. Of particular interest are recurring tropes, such as the (imagined?) dense woodlands of Iceland at the time of settlement, and the import of timber from Norway. Through comparing saga descriptions of wood to archaeological data and to historical sources, this poster examines how the stories told by these diverse archives diverge from one another, and why this might be.
Cite this Record
Imagined Forests: Woodlands and Wood Resources in Medieval Icelandic Literary, Documentary and Archaeological Sources. Dawn Elise Mooney. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452333)
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min long: -97.031; min lat: 0 ; max long: 10.723; max lat: 64.924 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23919