Welcome to NABO

NABO was founded over 25 years ago to attempt to cross-cut national and disciplinary boundaries and to help North Atlantic scholars make the most of the immense research potential of our damp and lovely research area. NABO has worked to aid in improving basic data comparability, in assisting practical fieldwork and interdisciplinary ventures, in promoting student training, and in better communicating our findings to other scholars, funding agencies, and the general public.

Greenland: Arctic Vikings Field School Summer 2019

The Greenland National Museum and Archives in partnership with the Institute for Field Research is hosting an international archaeological field school for undergraduate students in South Greenland, summer of 2019. Scholarships are available through the program and IFR to help reduce the cost for students.

The Greenland National Museum and Archives in partnership with the Institute for Field Research is hosting an international archaeological field school for undergraduate students in South Greenland, summer of 2019. Scholarships are available through the program and IFR to help reduce the cost for students.

This field school is a four-week adventure in a rugged environment that will provide students with a crash course in Arctic Archaeology. Participants will learn how to identify sites and features through landscape survey, perform “keyhole” excavations, and learn how to document their observations quickly and efficiently. Students will not only learn about archaeological field methods but will also have the chance to interact with the local community and gain insight into emerging issues regarding the impact of global climate change on cultural resources in the Arctic. Due to the ongoing issues surrounding the loss of organic deposits in South Greenland, emphasis will be placed on rapid and efficient intervention techniques in the field. This program is RPA certified (Register of Professional Archaeologists) and will benefit students who plan to pursue cultural resource management work in the future.

Archaeological investigations in 2019 will be conducted in the small hamlet of Igaliku in South Greenland. During the Norse period, Igaliku was the site of the episcopal manor farm of Garðar, established in AD 1124. Garðar was a geographical nexus between the most populous parts of the Eastern Settlement and possessed a large cathedral dedicated to St. Nicolaus. As the largest church in Norse Greenland, this cathedral reflected the manor’s great wealth and political importance. Although there are theories explaining why the Norse eventually abandoned Greenland in the mid-1400’s, many questions still remain unanswered. In the 1700s, colonial era Inuit farmers resettled Garðar and created a way of life very similar to the Norse – one that continues to this day. This area was nominated as UNESCO World Heritage property in July 2017 and bears witness to a rich and vibrant history of farming and pastoralism in South Greenland.

More details and application form and questions and inquiries about the field school can be sent to harmsen@natmus.gl

Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy

Rapid climate change poses a particular challenge our cultural resources and the US National Park Service has launched a Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy: "Cultural resources are our record of the human experience. Collectively, these archeological sites, cultural landscapes, ethnographic resources, museum collections, and historic buildings and structures connect one generation to the next. The National Park Service is charged with conserving cultural resources so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. Climate change is adding challenges to this role, and will continue to affect cultural resources in diverse ways. At the same time, through the tangible and intangible qualities they hold, cultural resources are also part of the solution to climate change."

Comparative Island Ecodynamics in Iceland & Greenland Project (CIE)

This NSF-funded project (US$1.3 million between 2012-16) supports a series of interlocking excavation and survey projects in Iceland and Greenland aimed at better understanding the complex interactions of human choice, environmental change, climate impacts, and early world system effects on the very different historical pathways of the Nordic settlements in Iceland and Greenland. This is an umbrella program building on the successful NABO International Polar Year collaborations (2007-11), which shares logistics, staff and students, and funded specialists in Zooarchaeology, Archaeobotany, Geoarchaeology, Radiocarbon and Stable Isotope analysis, Models and Data Management, and community outreach. More details are available from our new CIE page.

Global Environmental Change Threats to Heritage and Long Term Observing Networks of the Past

IHOPE have put together a theme to establish the threats to our heritage from global environmental change. These threats include wind, the sea and rising soil temperatures. This is destroying invaluable archaoelogical records and often previously unknown sites. The American Anthropological Association's Global Climate Change Task Force produced a report Statement on Humanity and Climate Change, which highlighted eight main points. More details on this new IHOPE Theme are available here. Other recent links to the impact of climate change on archaeological records include the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer, Climate Change and California Archaeology Studies and the Climate change impact on the Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California report.

Walking on eggshells? Millennial-scale sustainable community management

A new article on www.futureearth.org website discuss the NABO communities research into over 1000 years of sustainable natural resource management of waterfowl around lake Mývatn, Iceland. Written by Árni Einarsson, Megan Hicks, Kesara Anamthawat–Jónsson and Tom McGovern. Archaeological excavations of a midden at Skútustaðir has revealed large numbers of egg shell fragments in contact with the well dated Landnám (871±2 CE) tephra layer. This demonstrates that sustainable egg collection and water fowl began as soon as the first settlers colonised this area.

Read the full article for more details and more reports on this excavation can be found here.

The Pocantico Call to Action on Climate Impacts and Cultural Heritage

In 2014, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) published Landmarks At Risk report and a strategic workshop was organized on preserving cultural heritage in a changing climate. A Call to Action on climate and cultural resources which resulted from the meeting was co-sponsored with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Society for American Archaeology and the J.M. Kaplan Fund. NABO was one of the first signing organisations. For further details contact Adam Markham, Deputy Director of Climate and Energy at the UCS.

Heritage At Risk: SCAPE Trust--Scotland's Heritage At Risk Project

This video was shot by Regan Alsup and shows the impact of coastal erosion on the archaeology of Brora, Scotland. The SCAPE Trust (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) aims to conserve and promote the archaeology of Scotland's coast. The related SCHARP (Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk Project) aims to provide opportunties for the public to take part in archaeological and historical exploration and discovery.

Human Ecodynamics in the North Atlantic

Human Ecodynamics in the North Atlantic

A Collaborative Model of Humans and Nature through Space and Time

Ramona Harrison and Ruth A. Maher have compiled a series of separate research projects conducted across the North Atlantic region that each contribute greatly to anthropological archaeology. This book assembles a regional model through which the reader is presented with a vivid and detailed image of the climatic events and cultures which have occupied these seas and lands for roughly a 5000-year period. It provides a model of adaptability, resilience, and sustainability that can be applied globally.

Further details on this book are available on the Lexington Books website.

Greenland Isotope Project: Diet in Norse Greenland AD 1000-AD 1450

Greenland Isotope Project: Diet in Norse Greenland AD 1000-AD 1450

Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume No. 3 presents one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the food consumption and dietary economy of a historical population based on stable isotope analysis. The Norse Greenlanders are in this respect particularly of interest because their settlements in Greenland were constrained chronologically (ca. 500 years) and physically (the pasture lands of Southwestern Greenland). Archaeological efforts in Greenland have very likely uncovered all the settlement areas, including churches and cemeteries; thus, we can be reasonably assured that while new finds of, e.g., farmsteads may appear in future, the overall picture of the Norse settlements is pretty much fixed.

Project Management

Google Map showing sites in NW Iceland

A lot of new data has been added to our Project Management System, including several new Scottish sites, more Icelandic project and the addition of sites further south in Antigua and Barbuda and Cuba.

We have created a Project Management System, where NABO projects can be entered by researchers, displayed on a map and content made available to others. Please check out this new feature here or use the projects link above.

If you wish to enter data into the system, you must first register but no registration is needed to search for projects and download data.

Hofstaðir Award

cover of monograph Gavin Lucas and Fornleifastofnun Íslands have received the DV Cultural Award for The Hofstaðir. Excavations of a Viking Age Feasting Hall in North-Eastern Iceland monograph. The jury's comments follow: "In 1992 started a large scale archaeological excavation at Hofstaðir near Mývatn, NE-Iceland. The work continued for over a decade. The results have now been presented in a very detailed and elegantly presented monograph. This works offers many new insights into the Viking period in Iceland, the nature of the Settlement and the interplay between man and nature in 9th-11th century Iceland".

Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology.

book cover Cooper, J and Sheets, P. (eds) (2012) Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology . University Press of Colorado, Boulder p256.

The University Press of Colorado have just published a new book on how the archaeological record can help us to understand how we can cope with sudden environmental change. This book arose out of the October 2009 meeting in Maine, which lead to the creation of GHEA and this is the first major publication from our group.

The editors, Jago Cooper and Payson Sheets, have brought together authors from a wide variety of backgrounds to contribute to this publication. It is available to buy for only $19.99, but it can be downloaded for free as a PDF from The University Press of Colorado

This will hopefully be the first of many collaborative publications from the GHEA community. Feel free to join GHEA here.

Kids Archaeology School

Kids Archaeology Program Group Photograph

The Kids' Archaeology School (Fornleifaskóli barnanna) was formally established in the spring of 2007 and has since grown in scope and aim.

Icelandic television RUV news report [29/06/2011]

The Kids archaeology program is now a key part of the Historical Ecology: Islands of Change Initiative, funded in part by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs in the USA. This collaboration allows Icelandic students to interact through organized activities with students in in New York, Greenland, Orkney, Faroes, Norway, Antigua/Barbuda, Curacao and Bonaire.

Details about the Kids' Archaeology School, Iceland can be found on the NABO website and the Fornleifaskóli barnanna site.

The latest report on The Kids Archaeology Program (Fornleifaskóli barnanna) by Sif Jóhannesdóttir and Unnsteinn Ingason is now available.

FSÁ Donation to NABO

Icelandic sites

At the 2009 Viking Congress held in Reykjavik and Reykholt The Institute of Archaeology (Fornleifastofnun Áslands) (FSÁ) made a major donation to the NABO website data project of over 20 years of research amounting to over 300 survey and excavation reports in downloadable pdf format. 70 sites/projects and 149 reports loaded into our system, they can be accessed here .


We would like to gratefully acknowledge this generous gift of hard won data by FSÁ to the Icelandic nation and to the international community and we look forward to working with them in the future to provide updates to this impressive body of information.

Norse Greenland: selected papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008

Norse Greenland: selected papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008

The Journal of the North Atlantic has recently published the book Norse Greenland - selected papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008. Editors are Jette Arneborg, Georg Nyegaard and Orri Vésteinsson. The book is about 200 pages and includes 16 papers on various aspects of the Norse settlement in Greenland. For those interested in purchasing a copy of the book, contact kristborg@instarch.is.

GHEA website

GHEA logo

October 2010 saw the launch of our sister GHEA website. The Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance (GHEA) is an organization of social scientists, natural scientists, historians, educators, students, policy makers, and others interested in promoting cutting-edge research, education, and application of the socioecological dynamics of coupled human and natural systems across scales of space and time.

As of May 2016 there are now 203 members and to join this dynamic group visit http://www.gheahome.org.

International Polar Year

NABO members were very active during IPY on the national and international scale, and major funding was secured from Danish, Canadian, and US sources for an ambitious effort to continue and expand NABO collaboration with a special NABO IPY Project: Long Term Human Ecodynamics in the Norse North Atlantic: cases of sustainability, survival, and collapse. This project was funded at just over US$ 900,000 and had fieldwork seasons 2008-10 in the Shetlands, Faroes, Iceland, and SW Greenland.

More details of our involvement in International Polar Year can be found here.

Edinburgh IPY meeting 2007


Barbuda 2008

NABO is not all about the northern North Atlantic. We are also active in the Caribbean. Our work in Barbuda began in 2000 with CUNY archaeologists and an international team of environmental researchers, in collaboration with the Antigua & Barbuda scholars and agencies and by the invitation of Dr. Reg Murphy (head of archaeology for National Parks Antigua and Barbuda). Reports on our work in Barbuda are available here.

NABONE 9th Edition

This recording manual is the 9th working version of the NABO Zooarchaeology Working Group Data Records Project, authorized by the January 1997 working group meeting in New York City. The basic structure follows James Rackham's database (Microsoft Access) with some changes and clarifications for North Atlantic applications

The NABONE system consists of this coding manual, a developed Microsoft Access database with useful queries and reports, and an Excel spreadsheet set providing analytic output similar to the old Hunter College QBONE system.

This recording manual is available here

Our multinational and multidisciplinary nature means that we publicise our activities as widely as possible. Please let us know if you have any queries about anything on this website and especially if you feel you can contribute.

The NABO webpages are hosted by the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh.