The NABO community is constantly producing material for publication and wider outreach. This ranges from material submitted to peer-reviewed academic journals, books chapters, monographs, excavation reports, laboratory reports, magazine articles and many others.
A growing list of links to these will be added to this page. The links to the left are to unpublished field and laboratory reports (mainly from NORSEC, based at Brooklyn College, CUNY) and IPY NABO Project reports.
The Journal of the North Atlantic has just published a special volume of 8 research papers on the assembly and the part it played in Norse society in the 9th-12th centuries. This is an output from the successful Assembly Project.
Véronique Forbesa, Frédéric Dussaultb and Allison Bain have just published a paper on ectoparasite studies in archaeology and presents two original case studies from Iceland and Greenland.
Human and animal ectoparasites are often recovered from archaeological contexts being examined forpreserved insect remains. Records of human lice, fleas and bedbugs are used to reconstruct past sanitaryconditions and practices, as well as their geographic distribution and that of the pathogens for which theymay be vectors. Ectoparasites of domesticated and wild animals may be considered proxy indicatorsfor the presence of those animals whilst also inferring activities such as wool processing. This papersummarizes the contribution of ectoparasite studies in archaeology and presents two original case studiesfrom Iceland and Greenland.
This collection of diverse papers constitutes the legacy of the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference, held at the Centre for Nordic Studies, UHI, in Kirkwall, Orkney's Royal Burgh, on the 14th and 15th April 2011. This 2-day international conference was structured around the theme of the cultural and historical links between Scotland and Scandinavia. Papers were delivered by speakers from fourteen countries including Scotland, the UK more generally, Canada, and the Nordic World. The date was chosen to coincide with the Feast of St. Magnus, the native saint of the Orkney and a popular figure throughout the Norse Atlantic settlements. The conference proved to be a major event, with more than one hundred participants.Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 (2013) http://www.bioone.org/toc/noat/4/sp4
Bishop, R.R., Church, M.J., Dugmore, A.J., Koch Madsen, C. and Mřller, Neils (2013) A charcoal-rich horizon at Ř69, Greenland: evidence for vegetation burning during the Norse landnám? Journal of Archaeological Science 40, 3890-3902.
It is often assumed that the colonisation of Greenland by Norse settlers in c. A.D. 985 had a sudden and dramatic effect on the environment, involving substantial vegetation clearance and environmental degradation. Consequently, it has been argued that charcoal-rich horizons, visible in many sections in Greenland, represent the initial burning of the vegetation by Norse farmers to create land suitable for agriculture. In this study a charcoal-rich layer, visible in a modern drainage ditch beside the Norse farm of Ř69, was analysed using archaeobotany, sedimentary analysis and radiocarbon dating to test the date and formation processes of the horizon. It is demonstrated that the charcoal-rich layer at Ř69 was not derived from in situ vegetation burning in the 10th century and concluded that the layer was probably formed by the addition of midden material to the infields around Ř69 in the 13th and 14th centuries cal AD, perhaps as part of a soil amendment strategy. It is argued that caution must be exercised when interpreting charcoal-rich horizons as time-specific chronological markers in palaeoenvironmental sequences in Greenland.
The Journal of the North Atlantic has shifted the publication format of regular content. Papers which are not part of special volumes are being individually issued with their own covers in order to better highlight these important contributions. The latest journal content can be viewed here.
Soil profiles and archaeological sites in Northeast Iceland contain a sequence of basaltic tephra layers coinciding in time with the first human settlement of the area during the Viking Age, known as the Landnám tephra sequence. The chronology of these layers is useful when reconstructing the history of human settlement in Iceland and its environmental impact. The only properly dated tephra layer from this tephra sequence is the Landnám tephra layer (LTL), formed in the A.D. 870s. Sedimentation rates calculated from the interval between tephra layers of known age (A.D. 871 ± 2, 1158, and 1300) in high-resolution sediment cores from Lake Mývatn were used to establish the approximate age of six tephra layers in the medieval period. One of the main objectives of the study was to improve dating of a younger tephra layer, formed in the mid-10th century according to previous studies. This tephra layer, originating from the Veiđivötn volcanic system, has proven to be a very important marker bed for archaeological research in the Mývatn area. The results indicate that the 10th century Veiđivötn tephra formed in the period A.D. 930-940. The paper proposes the name V-Sv for this tephra layer. Tephrochronology established from lacustrine sediment cores with high sedimentation rates can provide valuable additional information for constructing chronologies at archaeological sites in the North Atlantic. Magnús Á. Sigurgeirsson, Ulf Hauptfleisch, Anthony Newton and Árni Einarsson.
2012 marked the centenary of the birth the great Icelandic geographer Sigurđur Ţórarinsson (1912-1983), who was the pioneer of tephrochronology and glaciological studies in Iceland. To commerate this important anniversary, Jökull Icelandic Journal of Earth Sciences published a special edition. It contains some 16 articles on a wide range of subjects that have been heavily influenced by Sigurđur Ţórarinsson. These include articles on how to extend tephrochronology beyond its traditional uses, distal tephras in Sweden, marine tephrochronology on the Iceland Shelf, glaciological studies of Langjökull, Kotárjökull, Sólheimajökull and Örćfajökull amongst others.
A new paper on tephrochronology by Andy Dugmore and Anthony Newton forms part this special volume of Jökull. This paper reflects on the application of tephrochronology in geomorphology. A common use oftephra layers is to define isochrons and use them to date environmental records. Applications of tephrochronology with the greatest practical utility, however, involve both classic isochrons (layers with an extensive distribution, distinctive well-characterised properties and good independent dating) and all other tephras present, including poorly-identified, unprovenanced and re-mobilised units that define time transgressive horizons. The effective use of this ’total tephrochronology’ requires replication across multiple sites, the clear identification of primary tephra deposits and re-mobilised deposits, combined with a good understanding of when tephra deposits truly define isochrons. Large scale replication of tephra stratigraphy is possible (and desirable) with terrestrial sequences, and can offer a detailed understanding of both geomorphological processes and human interactions with the environment. It is possible to use sequences of unprovenanced tephras as a ’barcode’ to undertake local correlations and refine the application of well-known marker horizons to environmental records. High frequency and high resolution measurement of both the units between tephra layers and the tephra layers themselves can identify subtle shifts in landscape stability and land use.
Reykjavík, capital of Iceland, developed from a dispersed rural settlement to nucleated urban community during the last 250 years. Prior to the mid-18th century, Iceland was a rural society that lacked towns or even substantial villages, with seasonal market centers and elite manor farms managing economic activities for widely dispersed farms and seasonal fishing stations. This paper focuses on two downtown Reykjavík faunal collections as part of the urban development from the mid-17th century. The collections from Ađalstrćti 10 and Tjarnargata 3c reflect some of the changes associated with increasing population density and specialized production in a more densely populated area. Some of the finds data and history of the town are incorporated into this text as well as a brief comparison of all the post-medieval downtown Reykjavik collections with the archaeofauna from the 18th-century layers from the former southern bishop's estate at Skálholt and also with that of the fishing farm Finnbogastađir in the Westfjords. The substantial archaeofauna from Tjarnargata 3c and Ađalstrćti 10 help identify the nature of these two sites and their role in the emerging town. Ramona Harrison and Mjöll Snćsdóttir. Link to article.
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.
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
This special issue of the Journal of the North Atlantic has its origin in the 2006 North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO) conference held at the Université Laval in Québec. One of the central themes of this conference was the early modern period (ca.1500–1800 CE). This special volume has gathered a number of papers, some that were presented at the conference and others that were not, which represent some of the work being done in historical/post-medieval archaeology across the North Atlantic today. The regions and approaches of the authors published in this issue reflect the variety and diversity of methodologies and subjects open to archaeologists working on the early modern North Atlantic.
The first meeting of Tephra in Quaternary Science (TIQS), the new QRA research group, was held at Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh, 5th-6th May 2011 and involved 36 participants from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, from the UK, Iceland, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland and France. The aim of TIQS is to bring together individuals and groups with wide-ranging expertise in order to promote cross-group collaborations for optimizing and advancing tephrochronology. The meeting discussed the lessons that can be learned from the Eyjafjallajökull 2010 eruption. Common themes and community concerns discussed included: 1) the need for comparable data, 2) reworking and preservation of tephra in the proximal and distal records, 3) tephra grain size distributions, 4) protocols for tephra measurement, 5) Quaternary distal tephras, 6) contemporary distal tephras, 7) input parameters for models and, 8) the importance of preparedness in advance of future eruptions. A full report and community statement can be found on Tephrabase at http://www.tephrabase.org/tiqs2011/tiqs2011_report.pdf and also on vhub at https://vhub.org/resources/1027. This workshop was supported by North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation (NABO) and with funding from the Quaternary Research Association and from the INTREPID project "Enhancing tephrochronology as a global research tool" of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)'s International focus group on tephrochronology and volcanism (INTAV) and the National Science Foundations of America through the Office of Polar Programmes 1042951 “RAPID: Environmental and Social Impacts of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull Eruption”. This enabled us to support postgraduate student and early career researcher participation. The second meeting of TIQS will take place in Spring 2012, last two and a half to three days and will be held at Royal Holloway, London and discussion topics will include proximal and distal correlations (chemistry, stratigraphy, age), using tephra as a chronological tool and progress from TIQS 2011.
Andy Dugmore, Anthony Newton and Kate Smith
Interim Report No.1 (Data Structure Report) of the excavations at the Mound of Brough (South Howe), the ditch northeast of Midhowe and the Knowe of Swandro is now available to be downloaded. This project will be shortly be added to the NABO Project Management System.
During 2010 FSÍ have added details on over 70 archaeological sites and over 130 field reports into the NABO Project Management System. All of the reports are now available and can be viewed here.
Tom McGovern has produced the Eagle Hill Global Long Term Human Ecodynamics Conference Report and Community Statement. This was circulated amongst the conference participants for comments and suggestions and is now available here.
The long awaited publication of the The Institute of Archaeology excavations of the Viking settlement of Hofstaðir in Mývatnssveit is now available. An international group of 45 archaeologists provide an in-depth and detailed analysis and interpretation of the 1992-2002 investigations of this classic site. At c. 500 pages with over 200 illustrations, the volume represents a landmark in Icelandic archaeology and will set a new standard for excavation monographs.
The monograph is in English with an extended Icelandic summary.
The price for the book is 5.990 ISK (£30 /$48 /€35 not incl. shipping costs). Orders can be placed by sending an e-mail to email@example.com or by telephone +354-5511033.
NABO 2008 Bradford Community Statement
Problems, Potentials, and Progress in North Atlantic Human Ecodynamics