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Metallurgical findings from a Viking Age chieftain's farm in Iceland
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
2010 (English)In: Journal of Archaeological Science, ISSN 0305-4403, E-ISSN 1095-9238, Vol. 37, no 9, 2284-2290 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The metalworking, metal import, and use of metal in medieval Iceland is still little understood. When the Scandinavian settlers colonized Iceland in the 9th c. AD, the island was found to contain no useful metal deposits save for bog iron, and the deforestation that followed the settlement resulted in a scarcity of wood. Only in the last decades have archaeological excavations begun to unravel how the first Icelanders dealt with this lack of resources. This paper presents the metallurgical findings from a Viking Age chieftain's farmstead at Hrisbru in the Mosfell valley, located just outside Iceland's present-day capital Reykjavik. The excavated metal objects had all been crafted with good workmanship employing technology similar to that used in mainland Scandinavia. However, most excavated metal finds show evidence of re-use, which together with the second-grade metal in some of the objects indicates a shortage of raw material that prompted the Icelandic colonizers to improvise and make do with whatever material was at hand. Even though this chieftain's farm was materially poorer than contemporaneous high-status farms in mainland Scandinavia, it was wealthy by Icelandic standards. The analytical results show that some excavated objects were imported trade goods deriving from both neighboring and far-away localities, proving that the farm was part of the extensive trade network of the Viking world. Most likely, this farm represents the upper limit to what a Viking Age farm in Iceland could afford in terms of material objects and trade goods.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 37, no 9, 2284-2290 p.
Keyword [en]
Archaeometallurgy, Corrosion, Conservation Science, Viking studies, X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-50198DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.04.001ISI: 000280377100021OAI: diva2:380555
authorCount :4Available from: 2010-12-21 Created: 2010-12-21 Last updated: 2012-01-02Bibliographically approved

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