Post-doctoral Researchers

Below are biographical details about post-doctoral researchers within medieval studies who currently working at the University of Iceland.


Andrea Maraschi (

Andrea Maraschi is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iceland, where he studies the symbolic significance of food in medieval Icelandic culture, and where he teaches a course on food and cooking in medieval times (Food in the Middle Ages: Facts and Mentalities, Fall 2015). He holds a BA degree in Modern Humanities (University of Bologna, 2008; thesis: L’alimentazione dei Franchi al tempo di Gregorio di Tours; supervisor: Prof. Massimo Montanari), an MA degree in Medieval History (University of Bologna, 2010; thesis: I miracoli alimentari di san Colombano: originalità, tradizione, e simbologia; supervisor: Prof. Massimo Montanari; published by CISAM, 2011) and a Ph.D. in Medieval History (University of Bologna, 2013; thesis: Mangia, bevi, ama. Cibo e rituali alimentari del matrimonio nell’Occidente altomedievale; supervisor: Prof. Massimo Montanari; published by CISAM, 2014: Un banchetto per sposarsi. Matrimonio e rituali alimentari nell’Occidente altomedievale).

His main research interests are: medieval history, food history, anthropology of food, hagiography, Old Norse and Celtic mythologies, food in world’s religions, agrarian history, food and mentalities. He was visiting researcher at King’s College London (UK) from January to April 2012 under the direction of Prof. Peter Heather (Department of History).

In 2014 he was scientific consultant to the historical reconstruction company Ente Palio di San Floriano (Jesi, AN – Italy) with regard to medieval cookery and eating habits. In the last years, he has published essays on both symbolical and practical aspects related to food and eating in the Middle Ages. Currently, he is collaborating with the University of Macerata, where he occasionally delivers lectures on food history in medieval times for the Medieval History class, and with the University of Padova, where he is going to teach the course Anthropology of Food (Spring 2016).


Dawn Elise Mooney (

Hugvísindasvið / Sagnfræðistofnun; Office: Gimli G-304

I am an environmental archaeologist specialising in archaeobotany and wood anatomical analysis. My primary research interests lie in the sphere of human-environment interactions. I am particularly interested in the use of historical literary and documentary sources in comparison with archaeological and palaeoenvironmental material, and in scientific and experimental approaches to archaeological remains. I am also an experienced field archaeologist, and along with work on various sites in Britain, Hungary and Iceland I also supervised excavations and environmental sampling at the Field School in North Atlantic Archaeology from 2006-2013. In addition to this, I have conducted analyses of charred and waterlogged botanical assemblages from numerous sites in the UK and Ireland.

I completed a BA Hons in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, England, in 2006. I have an MPhil in Archaeological Research from the same institution, focusing on fuel use in Viking Age and Medieval Iceland. I began my PhD in 2009, based at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and supervised by Dr Karen Milek (Department of Archaeology) and Dr Andrew Cameron (Department of Forestry). Against a background of palaeoenvironmental studies which show a steady decline in woodland cover after the colonisation of Iceland in the late 9th century AD, this project compared archaeological evidence (including wooden artefacts, wood charcoal assemblages and mineralised wood remains from boat burials) to information about wood resources given in historical sources. The study reassessed traditional models of landscape change and interpreted the decline of Icelandic woodlands in relation to the utilisation and control of wood resources on the island, to understand the relationships between sites in terms of wood procurement and management. I defended my PhD thesis in December 2013, under the examination of Prof. Andrew Dugmore (University of Edinburgh) and Prof. Keith Dobney (University of Aberdeen).

My current postdoctoral research continues on the themes examined in my PhD thesis. My previous work has shown that Icelandic wooden artefact assemblages contain a high proportion of conifer wood species compared to their contemporary European counterparts. I am investigating the potential of scientific methods to identify seawater-immersed wood in archaeological assemblages by its chemical signature, with a view to understanding whether conifer wood in North Atlantic island assemblages derives from the use of driftwood, or the import of timber from Scandinavia. Simultaneously, I am examining historical documentary sources such as land registers and property deeds to explore how the ownership and usage rights of driftwood beaches and woodland areas in Iceland changed over time through purchase, gifting, marriages etc. These two studies are part of an overarching analysis of the responses of the population of medieval Iceland to limited and declining native woodland resources.

In addition to my postdoctoral research, I also teach on the MA Archaeology course at the University of Iceland on topics of coastal archaeology and archaeological science.


Emily Diana Lethbridge (



Jan Alexander van Nahl (

I hold a Magister Artium (2009) in Scandinavian studies, historical geography, and archaeology from the University of Bonn, Germany, and a Dr. phil. (2012) in Scandinavian studies and archaeology from the University of Munich. I spent one year at the Department of Scandinavian Languages at the University of Uppsala, Sweden (2006/2007), and was a visiting lecturer at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland (2015). I am a fellow alumnus both of the German National Academic Foundation (since 2009) and the Protestant Academic Foundation (since 2012). As of autumn 2014, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iceland and the Árni Magnússon Institute, as well as a teacher and thesis supervisor in the Medieval Icelandic Studies and the Viking and Medieval Norse master‘s programme. My main research interests currently encompass the field of medieval studies, and the history of (particularly German) scholarship in the twentieth century, with a special focus on digital technology‘s capacity of enhancing our understanding of scholarship‘s ideological and intellectual foundation.

In my dissertation (published with de Gruyter in 2013), I examined the impact of thirteenth century continental discourse on the composition of Gylfaginning and Ynglinga saga, centring on theological vocabulary in the different versions of the Prose Edda. Based on this analysis, I challenged both the commonplace that Gylfaginning was grounded on euhemerism and that this Edda was primarily intended as a textbook of poetics. Rather, I tried to establish philological evidence for the influence of the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) and the concept of analogia entis on Old Icelandic writings.

My postdoctoral project aims at exploring the elusive phenomenon of contingency, i.e. the condition that things may be or may not be, in medieval literature, particularly the Old Icelandic kings‘ sagas. This corpus, still demanding thorough literary examination, is especially interesting not only because these sagas focus on the interdependency of politics and society, but also because the time of their composition was characterised by political and societal struggle, a condition that eventually called into question seemingly stable world orders. Attempts at theorisation of contingency can be traced from Greek philosophy through the Middle Ages up to most recent days, but its possible functions on the different levels of narration still lack a conclusive theoretical foundation. Whereas methodology is firmly grounded in literary studies, the theoretical background of my project thus also comprises medieval philosophy and historical anthropology. Ultimately, the project strives to scrutinise the impact of imaginative alternative worlds on medieval mentality, and thus the development of society.


Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir (

Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir studied at Reykjavík and Brighton before completing her DPhil in Old Norse literature from the University of Oxford in 2010. Between then and taking up her Marie Curie fellowship in 2013, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík, Iceland, working on a postdoctoral project about the medieval Icelandic legendary saga Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar and its place in medieval Icelandic literature and culture. She also participated in the Institute’s academic and outreach activities, editing Góssið hans Árna, a collection of essays about select manuscripts from its collection, and she taught courses on Old Norse-Icelandic literature and co-organized medieval seminars at the University of Iceland. Jóhanna’s book Women in Old Norse Literature: Bodies, Words, and Power, based on her doctoral thesis, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. She has also written articles about eddic poetry, sagas, gender, humour and rímur.

Jóhanna’s project as a Marie Curie fellow is a wide-scale study of Icelandic literary production in the late medieval period, framing texts of all genres and origin in their contemporary socio-historical and manuscript contexts. By adopting an inclusive, cross-genre approach, and employing material philology, literary analysis and postcolonial and other critical theories, the project’s goal is to gain a better understanding of the ways in which literary sources reflected and possibly shaped ideology, identity and attitudes to the outside world in late medieval Iceland. The project is based at Harvard University and the Árni Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies.
Þórir Jónsson Hraundal (