Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Archaeological Investigation of the Eastern North Atlantic Trade and Globalizing Economic Systems (Award# 1733914)

PI: Smith, Michele H (
Phone: (401) 863.5700 
Institute/Department: Brown University, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Colleen Strawhacker (
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This award supports archaeological research on the development of trade networks in the North Atlantic and women's role in weaving cloth and participating in these trade networks for 1000 years. Past studies tell us that trade in the middle ages connected the North Atlantic islands to only one country. However, this scientist's earlier research showed that nearly 1,000 years ago the Vikings traded and sold cloth in London and other European markets. This means that 900 years ago, women in places as far away as the islands of the North Atlantic made cloth for markets in distant places. The reason this is important is because it suggests that women's work was key to developing commodity markets that were the ancestors of today's market. By understanding how early international trade began in the North Atlantic and expanded as far as the Volga river, the research will contribute knowledge about the emergence of today's more complicated trade systems, how trade affects women's labor, and how people make decisions about what to make and what to trade. This scientific investigation will employ a mixed methodology to document and analyze textile collections from rural and urban, North Atlantic and European contexts. AMS, dye and material analyses, strontium isotope analyses, and X-Ray Fluorescence will be employed to further characterize North Atlantic collections and compare them to previously collected data assemblages. Strontium isotope analyses and pXRF data of archaeological samples and modern wool will be carried out in order to map isotopic signatures geographically and provide insight into the movements of textiles and the compounds used in their production across long distances, such as to North America, northern Europe and Eurasia. Bringing together analyses ranging in scale from trans-continental trade to assessments of individual women's handiwork and to their products' elemental and isotopic signatures, this project has transformative potential to provide an engendered, interdisciplinary perspective on trade, women, and the emergence of early globalized economies in the North.

Logistics Summary:
The ultimate goal of this project is to explore and better understand women’s roles in the development of trade networks in the North Atlantic. From 2017-2020 will employ a mixed methodology to document and analyze textile collections from rural and urban, North Atlantic and European contexts. One undergraduate student, per year, will help with background research and data entry. The data collection will be spread out over 3 years (according to the following schedule) with ongoing synthesis, writing, and publication of the results from these analyses. No fieldwork is conducted.

Generated from:
Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1733914", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1