Strengleikar 2013-2014

Terje S. Torgilstveit

Middle Norwegian and Middle Icelandic

Some similarities and some differences

Þriðjudaginn 20. maí 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 301

Terje Torgilstveit
Terje S. Torgilstveit

The period roughly from the Black Death until one generation after the Reformation has traditionally been described as rather unstable and it has been labelled as a “middle” period in both Icelandic and Norwegian language history. In this lecture, I will compare some of the major changes in Middle Norwegian with the development in Middle Icelandic and look at some similarities and some differences. At the end of the Middle Norwegian period, the language had lost most of the Old Norse system of inflectional morphology, while Icelandic largely retained it (though some leveling occurred). In addition, the impact of Low German had partially transformed the lexicon in Norwegian. The changes from Old to Modern Icelandic were mainly phonological and some of the minor phonological innovations in Icelandic are shared with western Norwegian dialects. The modern spoken Faroese and Icelandic have gone through a quantity shift. The Mainland Nordic languages have also had quantity shifts, but Icelandic shows that such a shift does not necessarily cause the reduction of vowels in endings. In the written Icelandic of the 15th and 16th century there are examples of Norwegian or Danish forms, Low German words and deviant inflected forms. These occurrences could lead us to believe that Icelandic was at the time developing in the same direction as the Mainland Nordic languages, but this did not happen; the language change was halted and most of these forms gradually disappeared from the Icelandic language. Lastly I will ask the question Why did Icelandic and Norwegian develop in different ways?

Terje S. Torgilstveit is a PhD candidate at the University of Agder. He has previously published on various topics, such as tense and Aktionsart in Old Norse and on Lombardic sound change. He is currently working on a morphological analysis of Middle Norwegian texts and a description of some language changes.

—o—

Jo Shortt Butler

The role of the trouble-maker in the Íslendingasögur

Tuesday May 6, 2014, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Jo Shortt Butler
Jo Shortt Butler

This paper forms part of my doctoral research into ‘trouble-makers and the making of trouble in the Íslendingasögur’. In it I intend to air my present evaluations of the role of a particular sub-set of characters in the Íslendingasögur; namely the ójafnaðarmenn. These ‘inequitable men’ appear in nearly every one of the ‘family sagas’, although their social position and role varies. In evaluating the different types of ójafnaðarmaðr found in the Íslendingasögur, the paper will emphasise the literary function of such characters using pertinent case studies. These will largely be drawn from regional Íslendingasögur and political narratives such as Hrafnkels saga Freysgoða. The emergence of conflict in these sagas will be examined and the role of the trouble-maker in instigating conflict and feud will be questioned.

Of course, no literary study can wholly overlook its associated social implications, so this paper will also put the ójafnaðarmenn discussed into the social context given for them by William Ian Miller, amongst others. The importance of ‘equity’ and balance to many aspects of saga society—and the inherent ambiguity of such a balance—provides fertile ground on which to build a study of these characters. Ultimately, this paper seeks to revise the assumption made by Theodore Andersson in his article on the heroic ideal, that ‘the ójafnaðarmaðr is always harshly judged’, and that any attempt to explore this would result in ‘overkill’. The former statement is not strictly true, and this paper will dispel thoughts of the latter by emphasising the individual priorities of each particular narrative.

Jo Shortt Butler is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge, working on the literary function of trouble-makers in the Íslendingasögur. She has also worked on the character of Snorri goði, the narrative of Heiðarvíga saga, and the skaldic poem Húsdrápa.

—o—

Ivar Berg

Language and Writing Culture in Late Medieval Norway

Thursday April 10, 2014, at 16.30
Árnagarður 301

Ivar Berg
Ivar Berg

This paper is based on my 2013 doctoral thesis “A late medieval scribal community: Nidaros archdiocese 1458–1537”, where I discussed language and linguistic practices at the Nidaros archdiocese in a social, cultural, and political context. Following the union with Denmark, the archdiocese became the most important national institution and the Norwegian milieu with most written output. It is therefore a suitable window on the linguistic and cultural situation of the period. The paper will focus on two main topics:

(1) The writing culture: What was written, how much, and how does it correspond to the development in Europe and Iceland? Important points are new text types like accounts, the use of printing for liturgical books, and a book collection which testifies to strong cultural contact with continental Europe.

(2) The social value of language: Danish replaced Norwegian as the written language of Norway during the Late Middle Ages. I propose a less nationalist interpretation of this language shift than (some) previous accounts, as there are no reliable examples of the differences between Norwegian and Danish being exploited as a sign of national identity. On the other hand, the use of Latin by the clergy seems to be part of their identity, thus expressed in language.

Ivar Berg is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Trondheim. He has worked on late medieval Norwegian from both grammatical and sociolinguistic point of view, always with focus on the primary sources. He is currently studying the 19th-century research history of Old Norse.

—o—

Hélène Tétrel

The different versions of Breta sögur

On the Old Norse translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth

Tuesday March 4, 2014, at 16.30
Árnagarður 311

Hélène Tétrel
Hélène Tétrel
In this presentation I will discuss my research on Breta sögur, the Old Norse translation of the Historia regum Britannie by Geoffrey of Monmouth. I will give a brief account of the different manuscripts and their relation to each other, discuss the difference between what is usually considered as the two existing versions of the Breta sögur, transmitted in Hauksbók and AM 573 4to, and the content of the text in comparison to other known Galfridian adaptations in Europe.

Hélène Tétrel is associate professor of medieval studies at Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest, France. She specializes in the Norse translations of French medieval literature, in particular the romances (the chansons de geste), the Breton material in the sagas of chivalry and pseudo-historical texts, including Karlamagnúss saga og Breta sögur.

—o—

John Hines

The heathen Norse in England

A runic inscription from Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire

Wednesday March 5, 2014, at 16.30
Árnagarður 311

John Hines
John Hines

Although Late Anglo-Saxon Christian writers automatically refer to the Norse Vikings as ‘heathens’, evidence for the religious ideas and practices of these people in Britain is practically non-existent, and the speed and thoroughness with which they assimilated to Anglo-Saxon culture and converted to Christianity in England is much disputed. A spindle whorl from a coastal site at Saltfleetby in Lincolnshire found in 2010 is small but provides important new information and insight. It invokes Óðinn, Heimdallr and a þalfa (Þjálfa?); it can be dated to around the early 11th century. This paper will present refined, and discuss the archaeological, runological, linguistic and historical aspects of its significance, with reference particularly to the wider history of the runic tradition in Britain in the Viking Period and the survival and use of the Norse language.

John Hines FSA, MA, DPhil (Oxon) is Professor in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion of Cardiff University, Wales. He specializes in the material life, literature and languages of medieval northern Europe, and has focussed research on the integrated (‘interdisciplinary’) study of archaeology, the history of language, and literature.

—o—

Alaric Hall

Fornaldarsögur, terrorism, and the 2008 financial crisis

Thursday February 27, 2014, at 16.30
Árnagarður 311

Alaric Hall 2
Alaric Hall

This paper arises from a survey of a dozen or so Icelandic novels which respond more or less directly to the 2008 financial crisis. Iceland’s medieval past appears in most of them—predictably, given the prominence of medievalism in the Icelandic national self-image and the widespread image of the banker as an útrásarvíkingur. Sometimes this medievalism is in a fairly traditional nationalistic form, referencing the Íslendingasögur as a touchstone for Icelandic values. But by reaching out to the fornaldarsögur and riddarasögur, genres which were rejected by National-Romantic thinkers, Bjarni Bjarnason’s Mannorð and Bjarni Harðarson’s Sigurðar saga fóts develop creative critiques of Icelandic culture.

More surprisingly, however, the more literary of the novels tend also to allude to the Middle East and Islamic terrorism, particularly Sigurðar saga fóts and Kári Tulinius’s Píslarvottar án hæfileika. These bring traditional Icelandic nationalist medievalism into an intriguing collision with post-9/11 American medievalism, which presents (parts of) the Islamic world as ‘still medieval’: as acting with medieval barbarity and deserving the same treatment in return; and as representing a ‘neo-medieval’ world-order where states do not have full sovereignty, but have to use whatever means they can to exercise power amidst overlapping and competing sovereignties.

The paper will explore how nationalist and Orientalist medievalisms interact in Icelandic financial crisis novels to interrogate or construct Icelandic identity in the wake of the kreppa—and consider what this means for us as medievalists.

Alaric Hall studied at Cambridge, Glasgow and Helsinki and is a lecturer in medieval literature at the University of Leeds. He has researched popular belief, multilingualism, and romances in medieval Scandinavia, and is presently in Iceland to learn the art of ethnography.

—o—

Jesse Byock

An Update on the Findings of the Mosfell Archaeological Project

Thursday February 13, 2014, at 16.30
Árnagarður 311

Jesse Byock
Jesse Byock

This talk discusses the findings of the Mosfell Archaeological Project (MAP). It focuses on the excavations at Hrísbrú, the farm of the Mosfell Chieftains in Mosfellsdalur. The finds provide a wealth of new information about life in landnám and Viking Age Iceland, including the presence of a mixed pagan and Christian community. The assemblage of newly discovered and well-preserved sites, all within a single valley, is providing a nuanced picture of a dynamic political, religious, and economic landscape. For background information on MAP see http://www.viking.ucla.edu/mosfell_project/

Jesse Byock is Professor at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Professor in UCLA’s Scandinavian Section. He is Director of the Mosfell Archaeological Project and affiliate professor in the Department of History and the Viking and Medieval Norse Studies Program at Háskóli Íslands.

—o—

Erika Sigurdson

Administrative Literacy in Late Medieval Iceland

Fimmtudaginn 30. janúar 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 311

Erika Sigurdson
Erika Sigurdson

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Icelanders started to produce and keep registers, charters, inventories, and other administrative documents in larger and larger numbers. The study of the interconnected topics of orality and literacy has long been of interest in the context of Old Norse literature. However, the question of administrative literacy—the use of written contracts and inventories as an administrative or legal tool—has yet to be addressed in the Icelandic context.

One of my primary research questions is to identify the people or institutions most closely involved with documentary production in the fourteenth century. Early Icelandic documents were written and used by people from many different backgrounds, both secular and clerical. At the same time, these documents may reveal connections between people that would otherwise be undetectable. Part of my project then is to identify networks of people involved in documentary production, as well as identifying regional or local centres of written production.

In this paper, I will present some of the results of my initial study, a pilot project involving just over one hundred documents dating from 1280 to 1398. I will discuss some of the trends and research questions brought to light from the pilot study, and share my initial findings.

Erika Sigurdson is a historian and postdoctoral fellow at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Her research focuses on administrative literacy and the Church in fourteenth-century Iceland.

—o—

Jakub Morawiec

Slavs in Old Norse Literature

Þriðjudaginn 28. janúar 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 311

Jakub Morawiec
Jakub Morawiec

The role of Slavs (Vindr) appears to be rather marginal in the Scandinavian medieval literature. From the perspective of saga authors, their lands (Vindland) were located outside Scandinavian world and they were generally encountered as others and strangers. Their image in Old Norse narratives seems to be quite ambiguous. On one hand, Slavs are portrayed as hostile pagans, adversaries of St. Olaf and his followers. As ‘illvirkjar’ and ‘ókristnir’ they are among arch enemies of the Christian king. On the other hand, Slavs are present at crucial moments during the political career of another Norwegian missionary king, Olaf Tryggvason, playing the role of the only supporters of the deserted monarch. Jómsborg, the residence of famous viking band, is located in Vindland as a result of encounters with its famous ruler, Burizleifr. The latter figure becomes important political partner for Scandinavian kings and nobles. The Slavs’ presence at famous military encounters of the saga world (Danevirke, Hjørungavåg, Svoldr) points at their military skills, appreciated by Scandinavian leaders. The aim of this paper will be to look at what factors are decisive with regard to the complex image and role of Slavs in Old Norse literature.

Jakub Morawiec is a lecturer in the Institute of History, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. His research focuses on history of Scandinavia in the early Middle Ages. He is the author of Vikings among the Slavs (Wien 2009), Knut Wielki (ok. 995-1035). Król Anglii, Danii i Norwegii (Kraków 2013) and the translator of Hallfreðar saga vandræðaskálds into Polish (Wrocław 2011).

—o—

Þórir Jónsson Hraundal

Norrænir menn í arabískum miðaldaheimildum

Fimmtudaginn 16. janúar 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 423

Thorir Jonsson Hraundal mynd
Þórir Jónsson Hraundal

Á níundu og tíundu öld héldu norrænir menn í margvíslegum erindum langt inn í austanverða Evrópu þar sem samtímaheimildir vísa yfirleitt til þeirra sem „Rús“. Í gegnum tíðina hafa sagnfræðingar einna helst beint sjónum sínum að samneyti þeirra og samruna við þær slavnesku þjóðir sem fyrir voru og þátt norrænna manna í uppbyggingu Rús-ríkisins á níundu öld með höfuðból í Kænugarði (Kiev). Þessi efnistök eiga ekki síst upptök sín í mikilvægri slavneskri heimild frá öndverðri tólftu öld, hinni svokölluðu Sögu liðinna ára (Povest Vremennikh Let) sem fyrir ýmsar sakir hefur notið forgangs í þessari sagnaritun.

Margt virðist þó benda til að ákveðinn flokkur samtímaheimilda frá níundu og tíundu öld hafi ekki notið athygli sem skyldi. Í rannsókn minni á arabískum heimildum frá þessum tíma, aðallega landalýsingum og sagnfræðilegum textum, reyni ég að sýna fram á að sú mynd sem þær draga upp af Rús er talsvert önnur en í Sögu liðinna ára. Í fyrsta lagi eru þeir sagðir halda sig á mun austlægari slóðum, við syðri hluta Volgu og við Kaspíahaf. Í öðru lagi virðast Rús í arabísku heimildunum hvorki hafa áhuga á kristnitöku né stofnun ríkis, en þetta hafa jafnan verið tvö meginþemu í sagnaritun um Rús. Í þriðja lagi leggja arabískar heimildir talsverða áherslu á samband Rús við hinar sterku túrkísku þjóðir þess tíma, svo sem Khazara og Volgu-Búlgara, sem réðu yfir stóru svæði í austanverðri Evrópu og léku lykilhlutverk í umfangsmikilli verslun sem náði allt frá norðanverðri Evrópu til Miðjarðarhafs.

Niðurstöður rannsóknar minnar benda fyrst og fremst til þess að endurskoða þurfi efnistök og samhengi sagnaritunar um norræna menn í austurvegi og taka mið af hinu flókna menningarlega og pólitíska landslagi eins og það var þar á þeim tíma. Sjónum er enn fremur beint sérstaklega að hlutverki verslunar og viðskipta í menningartengslum og mögulegum áhrifum þeirra eins og lesa má úr arabískum samtímaheimildum.

Þórir Jónsson Hraundal lauk nýlega doktorsprófi í miðaldafræðum við Björgvinjarháskóla. Rannsóknir hans lúta einkum að frásögnum í arabískum miðaldaheimildum um ferðir norrænna manna í austanverðri Evrópu.

— o —

Adolf Friðriksson

Kringum kuml

Táknmál og staðhættir á járnöld

Fimmtudaginn 5. desember 2013 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Adolf Fridriksson copy
Adolf Friðriksson

Á síðustu árum hafa verið gerðar rannsóknir á staðsetningu greftrunarstaða úr heiðni. Hin hefðbundna skoðun var að staðir til greftrunar hafi verið valdir af handahófi. Skráning og kortlagning þekktra kumlfunda hefur þvert á móti leitt í ljós að kumlum hefur verið valinn staður eftir fastmótuðum hugmyndum. Algengt er að þau finnist á útjaðri landareigna og við gamlar leiðir.

Í erindinu verður fjallað um heimildagildi kumla um greftrun og samfélag. Sagt verður frá kortlagningu þekktra kumla hringinn í kringum landið og tilraunum til að finna áður óþekktar grafir eftir þeim vísbendingum sem lesa má úr staðháttum. Greint verður frá nokkrum túlkunarmöguleikum, m.a. um þróun samfélagsgerðar á fyrstu öldum Íslandsbyggðar, og nýjum rannsóknartækifærum sem felast í kumlafræðum.

Erindið er kynning á doktorsritgerðinni La place du mort. Les tombes vikings dans le paysage culturel islandais er höfundur varði nýlega við Sorbonne-háskóla og fjallar um staðarval og greftrun í samfélagi víkingaaldar.

Adolf Friðriksson er fornleifafræðingur hjá Fornleifastofnun Íslands ses. Hann lauk nýlega doktorsprófi við Sorbonne-háskóla og vinnur m.a. við rannsóknir á kumlum og menningarlandslagi.

— o —

Chris Callow, University of Birmingham

Iceland and the viking diaspora, c. 900—c. 1400

Thursday November 21st, 2013, at 16.30
Árnagarður 423

Christopher Callow
Chris Callow

Iceland’s relations with the wider Scandinavian world in the middle ages were diverse and multi-faceted. This paper aims to explore some aspects of the research which form part of a broader project on ‘the viking diaspora’ which will be published as a book. Iceland is at the heart of the study, especially the latter half of it, because of its later medieval literary texts which preserve varied perspectives on the Old Norse-Icelandic-speaking world. After considering some methodological and historiographical issues the paper will look briefly at  Iceland’s relationship with Norway.

Chris Callow is a Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Birmingham. He wrote his PhD thesis on the history of medieval western Iceland and has published on topics connected with Iceland (on Landnámabók, burial archaeology) and early medieval western Europe.

— o —

Tarrin Wills, University of Aberdeen

The electronic representation of the Old Norse world

Þriðjudaginn 12. nóvember 2013 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 423

Tarrin_Wills 02
Tarrin Wills

This paper presents the work of the Skaldic Project in the context of developments in the use of the Internet. The last decade has seen enormous changes to the way in which we share data on the Internet, with user-provided content becoming ubiquitous in the form of ‘social media’. Social media allow users to create structured and linked content, comment on the content of other users, and restrict access according to various rules and networks. Their success derives from the way they mirror the processes of human networks and sharing information in the ‘real world’. Many of these processes are seen in the production of scholarly work in collaborative settings, meaning that these techniques can be used to promote data sharing in our own small field of Old Norse studies. In Old Norse we have a number of digitisation projects working to produce reliable data on the texts, manuscripts and other phenomena of early Scandinavia. What is currently lacking is the ability to share and link common reference points — people, places, manuscripts, bibliographic items, texts and poetry — between the many projects that encompass and refer to them. Additionally, these projects often go unnoticed as legitimate research outputs because of unstable publishing on the web and informal peer review processes. The Skaldic Database has provided solutions to many of these problems for various projects; this paper will further elaborate on solutions to the remaining issues, and the possibilities they offer our field.

Tarrin Wills is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Aberdeen. He is a long-standing member of the Skaldic Project and has recently joined the research project Pre-Christian Religions of the North.

— o —

Íslenskar miðaldakirkjur í nýju ljósi

Fimmtudaginn 7. nóvember 2013 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Tveir fyrirlestrar um íslenskrar miðaldakirkjur verða haldnir í miðaldamálstofu fimmtudaginn 7. nóvember kl. 16.30. Þorsteinn Gunnarsson fjallar um Halldórukirkju og Péturskirkju á Hólum og Gunnar Harðarson segir frá nýjum hugmyndum um Gíslakirkju og Klængskirkju í Skálholti:

Þorsteinn Gunnarsson

Halldórukirkja og Péturskirkja á Hólum í nýju ljósi

ÞG 3
Þorsteinn Gunnarsson

Í erindinu er fjallað um tvær eldri Hóladómkirkjur, stærð þeirra og gerð, út frá skriflegum heimildum. Til eru tvær heimildir frá 18. öld um stærð Halldórukirkju (reist 1627, rifin 1759). Þeim ber ekki saman og hefur verið ályktað að önnur þeirra sé ótraust. Hér er sýnt fram á að mælingarnar voru gerðar hvor með sínum hætti, og færð rök að því að báðar heimildirnar séu traustar. Á grundvelli þeirra og lýsinga úttekta eru gerðir uppdrættir af Halldórukirkju.

Áður hefur verið álitið að Péturskirkja (reist 1395, fauk 1624) hafi verið 84 álna löng. Hér eru leidd að því rök að sú skoðun byggist á mistúlkun á heimild frá 16. öld, sem segi þvert á móti að kirkjan hafi verið 67 álna löng. Þessu til staðfestingar eru tilfærðar tvær heimildir sjónarvotta, önnur um fjölda þaksperra, hin um samanburð á kirkjunum tveimur. Miðað við þessa lengd kirkjunnar eru gerðar tilgátuteikningar af Péturskirkju (1395).

Þorsteinn Gunnarsson er arkitekt frá Arkitektaskóla konunglega danska listaháskólans og stundaði einnig nám í byggingarfornleifafræði við Franska fornleifaskólann í Aþenu. Hann er ritstjóri ritraðarinnar Kirkjur Íslands.

Gunnar Harðarson

Nýjar hugmyndir um Gíslakirkju og Klængskirkju í Skálholti

gunnar_agust_hardarson618596282_90x120
Gunnar Harðarson

Á miðöldum voru þrjár dómkirkjur byggðar í Skálholti: Gissurarkirkja (1082), Klængskirkja (1153) og Árnakirkja (1311), og tvær voru reistar á siðbreytingartímanum: Ögmundarkirkja (1527) og Gíslakirkja (1570). Almennt er talið að þær hafi verið hver annarri líkar og hinar síðari reistar á grunni hinna fyrri. Vitað er að Gísli biskup Jónsson hafði uppi áform um að smíða minni kirkju í stað Ögmundarkirkju, en ekki hefur verið unnt að sýna fram á að kirkjan sem hann reisti hafi verið minni en fyrirrennari hennar. Í erindinu eru ritaðar heimildir um áform Gísla biskups endurmetnar og komist að þeirri niðurstöðu að samkvæmt þeim hljóti hann að hafa minnkað kirkjuna. En hvernig kemur sú niðurstaða heim og saman við vitnisburð fornleifarannsóknarinnar sem er undirstaðan undir öllum tilgátum um gerð og stærð Skálholtskirkna? Og hvað getur hann sagt okkur um fagurfræði Klængskirkju?

Gunnar Harðarson er prófessor við Sagnfræði- og heimspekideild og umsjónarmaður meistaranáms í miðaldafræðum.

— o —

Mathias Nordvig

What happens when Fjalarr and Galarr
go sailing with Gillingr?

Snorri’s myth of the mead of poetry in light of geomythology and disaster response

Fimmtudaginn 24. október  2013 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði  423

mathias nordvig
Mathias Nordvig

The myth of the Mead of Poetry is extant in two very different versions. Hávamál 104-10 accounts for a myth whereby Óðinn steals Óðrerir from Suttungr by promising to marry Gunnlǫð, betrays his oath and flees the scene of a banquet in the hall. Snorri’s version in Skáldskaparmál is fundamentally different. It begins with the peace settlement between the Æsir and the Vanir. Kvasir is created by the Æsir and he travels the world far and wide, spreading his wisdom. Eventually, he is killed by some dwarves and they turn him into mead. As wergild for killing a jǫtunn named Gillingr during a sailing trip, the dwarves give the mead to Suttungr who stores it in the bottom of the mountain Hnitbjǫrg with his daughter Gunnlǫð. Óðinn enters the tale under the name Bǫlverkr and manages to kill the slaves of Suttungr’s brother Baugi. In return for working to bring in the harvest, Óðinn asks Baugi to help him get a drink of the mead from Suttungr. They try but fail, and instead Óðinn and the jǫtunn go to mountain Hnitbjǫrg and drill a hole into it. Óðinn transforms himself into a snake and crawls inside, copulates with Gunnlǫð, drinks the mead and bursts out of the mountain as an eagle. He returns to Ásgarðr in eagle form with Suttungr (also in eagle form) right at his heels and in order to escape Suttungr, Óðinn erupts, sending out the liquid skáldfíflahlutr backwards against Suttungr. In my presentation, I will outline a theory about why this myth is so much more extensive in Snorri’s version: why it involves several deaths, the entire expanse of the cosmos with several landscape features, and not least, a boat ride on an underworldly sea. I will argue that when Fjalarr (‘Hider’) and Galarr (‘Screamer’) go sailing with Gillingr (‘Noisy’), it is time to prepare for a volcanic eruption.

Mathias Nordvig is a Ph.D. student at Aarhus University. His research focuses on the transformation of Old Norse mythology in response to places and spaces in the Viking Age and medieval times. He works with concepts of Icelandic volcanism in Old Norse myths and investigates how certain myths may have changed as a result of early Icelanders’ encounters with volcanoes. He also works with conceptions of the sea in the myth of Thor’s fishing for the World Serpent, investigating how the migration across the North Atlantic sea may have altered the parameters within which the myth was told and retold.

— o —

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 pic
Davide Zori

Power 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.