Insect fossils from Viking age and Medieval houses in Iceland - what can they tell us about life and environment? [Poster]

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Keyword: Insect fossil, Subfossils, Iceland, Hólar, Miljö- och kulturhistoriska studier av den Vikingatida och medeltida utvecklingen på biskopssätet Hólar, norra Island
Publication year: 2007
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
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During the period 2000 to 2006 subfossil insect remains, primarily beetle remains, have been analysed. The material originate from soil samples collected from former house floors during archaeological excavations at several localities and former settlements from Viking age long houses, medieval turf houses and from later historical house remnants in Iceland. Preservation and content of fossil remains in these house floor samples is totally dependent on the house history, e.g. its location in the landscape and the material used during its construction, the function of the house or activities in different rooms and finally the abandonment history of the house. But on the contrary the floor samples usually provide a high preservation degree and high organic content in the sediment. One of the aims of the investigations is to interpret the environmental conditions, the relation between a settlement and its surrounding nature, the indoor environment of the buildings and to compare the different settlements. The majority of samples from house floors from Iceland are generally poor in fossil insect remains with a domination of beetles originating from the surrounding environment and material probably used for the building, reflecting the natural environment and the building phase. But there is some variation. In house floor samples from the 18th and 19th centuries it is obvious with the typical secondary use of abandoned houses as stables and in the early medieval settlement at Keldur, south Iceland, there was a floor of waste within the medieval house representing a period when a part of the house had been used as smithy or for metal work.


Magnus Hellqvist

Högskolan Dalarna; Naturgeografi
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