Monthly Archives: September 2013

Cloisters and Culture in Iceland and the North 
in the Middle Ages

The Centre for Medieval Studies has organised a series of lectures throughout autumn/winter 2013-14 on the theme of medieval cloisters and culture in Iceland and Scandinavia. Before the Reformation in the mid 16th century, there were nine functioning Augustine and Benedictine monastic foundations in Iceland; a few more were established but existed for a short period only. Two foundations were convents and the others were monasteries. As well as being centres of belief, these foundations played an important role in society being centres of learning and book production, and providing care for the sick, for example. Moreover, these foundations were the means by which various streams of foreign influence entered Icelandic society, since they were part of a bigger European monastic movement and their models were foreign.

The lectures will be held in Árnagarður Room 423, Háskóla Íslands, and begin at 16.30 unless otherwise stated. Each lecture will last approximately 35-40 minutes with discussion afterwards.

The programme can be found as a PDF here.

All are welcome at attend while space allows.


Davide Zori, UCLA

Archaeology and the Politics of Feasting in the Early Middle Ages

Fimmtudaginn 26. september 2013 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 422

Davide Zori picPower and authority in Early Medieval Europe was largely personal and tied to individual kings or chieftains. Political action in such societies—whether among chiefs, between chieftains and supporters, or among commoners—often takes the form of gift-giving and feasting. Unfortunately, large portions of Early Medieval Europe characterized by chiefly political organization lack adequate written texts for even a basic understanding of the political economics of the regional polities. Archaeology has the potential to shed new light on feasting as a key arena of political action. This paper proposes approaches to locating and understanding political action in Early Medieval Europe through a combination of zooarchaeology, paleobotany, palynology, and household archaeology. I conclude by presenting a case study illustrating the potential of this multi-disciplinary line of investigation. The Mosfell Archaeological Project’s excavations of a chiefly longhouse at Hrísbrú in the Mosfell Valley provide the opportunity to examine the archaeological correlates of feasting in Iceland’s marginal environment.

Davide Zori (PhD, Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles) works on Viking Age archaeology in Iceland. His dissertation integrated archaeological, textual, and place name data to reconstruct the evolving settlement patterns and power structures in the Mosfell Valley. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the UCLA Medieval and Renaissance Studies Center, and lives and works in Iceland. He joined the Mosfell Archaeological Project in 2002 and has been the project’s field director since 2006.