Arctic Field Projects



Project Title: Doctoral Dissertation Research: Centennial Scale Human Ecodynamics at Skutustadir Iceland (Award# 1203268)

PI: McGovern, Thomas H (tmcgover@hunter.cuny.edu)
Phone: (212) 772.5654 
Institute/Department: City University of New York, Hunter College, Department of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Anna Kerttula (akerttul@nsf.gov)
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences |

Project Web Site(s):
NSF_Award_Info: http://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=120326...
Data: http://www.nabohome.org/

Science Summary:
This project will support the PhD research of doctoral student Megan Hicks under the supervision of Dr. Thomas McGovern. The project Centennial Scale Human Ecodynamics at Skútustaðir will contribute to the understanding of long-term economic and ecological practices in N. Iceland by examining the archaeological record of a district-center farm, Skútustaðir, first settled during Iceland's initial settlement period (871-950 CE) and occupied through to the present. During this farm's long history, inhabitants experienced economic consolidation, colonialism, changes in land tenure and land use in addition to fluctuations in their natural environment including climactic change and soil depletion. These factors interacted directly with subsistence practices (McGovern et al. 2007, McGovern et al. 2006). Long term sites such as Skútustaðir would have been the social and economic backbone of their regions. Their study is crucial to generating the long term picture of settlement history, ecological history and social history in this region though time. Theoretical foundations of this research include Historical Ecology in archaeology as laid out by Carole Crumley (1994) with its concern for historical context and emphasis on long term investigations of landscapes changing through time while dialectically influenced by human activity. The project's main method is zooarchaeology which is particularly relevant in Iceland as the vast majority of dietary subsistence and economic transactions were based on animal products. The field research includes the excavation of additional zooarchaeological material (animal bones) as evidence of subsistence practices from the middle ages to complete the chronology of this long term site. Included will be the analysis of dated samples of eggshell already excavated- evidence of a sustainable long term tradition of egg harvesting at Skútustaðir a tradition with social and ecological dimensions in the most diverse waterfowl habitat on earth (Lake Mývatn). Archival work will provide a rich social context for archaeological remains.

Logistics Summary:
This doctoral research project will increase our understanding of long-term economic and ecological practices in N. Iceland by examining the archaeological record of a district-center farm, Skútustaðir, first settled during Iceland’s initial settlement period (871-950 CE) and occupied through to the present. During the summer of 2012 a field team of 5 will travel to Myvatn, Iceland to conduct a midden excavation at Skútustaðir for 4 weeks, focusing on recovery of additional High and Late Middle Ages deposits, making extensive use of NABO and FSI field equipment. In 2013 the Co-PI will return to Iceland to carry out laboratory studies of recovered bird egg shells at University of Iceland Biology Department and archival research on Skútustaðir and Mývatn land holding records held at the Icelandic National Archives.

All logistics will be organized by the researchers and paid through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2012Iceland - Skútustaðir06 / 25 / 2012 07 / 25 / 20125
2013Iceland - Reykjavik01 / 21 / 2013 01 / 25 / 20132
 


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