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Viking Age Environments

Viking Age Environments

By Rebecca Boyd

The Viking world was a different world from ours. Archaeologists, scientists, historians, geographers, and scholars work in different fields, using different methods, answering different questions, but with the same driving compulsion – to understand more about what the world of the Vikings looked and felt like. If we dig a little deeper into this Viking narrative, we find a whole raft of changes to landscapes, environments and societies which enable these transitions throughout the Viking Age.
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Greenland’s Changing Climates

Viking Age EnvironmentsMay 21, 2021

Greenland’s Changing Climates

Greenland’s Changing Climates

In Episode 3, Rebecca talks to Rowan Jackson at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh about his work on how the Norse adapted their way of Scandinavian way of living to the harsh climate of Greenland. We talk about the hows and whys of these lifestyle choices, before discussing the successes and failures of the Vikings in Greenland. Moving on from this, we talk more generally about Rowan’s work on global change research and climate change archaeology.

730 - audiogram -915

7,15 Value of archaeological record.
9,30 Why did the Norse move to the North Atlantic?
12,00 Pull to Greenland - walrus ivory & (relatively) mild climate
13,30 Population estimates & peak settlement in Greenland
16,00 Viking farming toolkit
18,00 Hunting strategies & adaptation strategies
19,00 Landscape learning
22,00 Greenland's short active season
26,45 TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) & cultural landscapes in Greenland
29,00 Adaptive toolkit responds to changes in seal populations
30,45 Transposing children's learning landscapes, Viking v Thule - cultural transmission
34,00 Miniature objects - toys & material culture
37,30 Children in urban contexts
40,30 Hegemonic masculinities & identities in urban contexts
49,00 Climate changes in the 14th century & TEK becomes less relevant
52,00 Cultural path dependence leaves the Norse less able to react to these changes
54,00 Changing European demands and politics affect Greenland
56,00 Population changes impact the abilities of the Norse to get to those resources that they need
60,00 Norse adaptive capacity is pushed to the limit, beyond capacity?
65,00 Evidence for leaving? Or a bias in the record?
72,30 What's the most important thing you can tell me about this?
75,00 The hermeneutic cycle of interpretation and reinterpretation
77,45 What is Global Change Research? What is Archaeology's role in GCR?
80,00 Shifting baselines, e.g. cod fishing & contribution of archaeological research to reconstructing historical cod populations
82,00 Discrete archaeological examples of change/adaptation/collapse and the lessons we can learn from these examples for the future.
85,00 Adaptation, vulnerability, and social context.
87,30 Social Contract & working with local communities
90,30 Relationships between communities, museums as trusted spaces, and potential for archaeologists to engage via exhibitions.

May 21, 202101:35:11
Volcanoes, Floods and Landscapes

Volcanoes, Floods and Landscapes

In Episode 2, Rebecca talks to Ingar Mørkestøl Gundersen about how modern flooding in Norway’s Gudbrandsdalen valley led him to consider the effects of big climatic events in the lead-up to the Viking Age. Ingar Mørkestøl Gundersen is an archaeologist with the Cultural History Museum in Oslo. He graduated from the University of Oslo with a major in archeology in 2007 before going to work as a field archaeologist in Norway, England, Russia, Greece and Sweden. Ingar is completing his PhD thesis entitled Years without summers. AD 536: Crisis or adaptation in conjunction with the Museum and the University of Oslo.  His interests lie in the junctures between rescue archaeology, extreme weather events (floods and volcanoes), the effects of climate cooling and the nature of societal vulnerability to these events.

2,15 Gudbrandsdalen archaeological complex
3,30 6th century cooling, disaster theory & societal vulnerability
6,30 6th century crisis, but not the same crisis everywhere
8,30 Explainer of Fimbulwinter
9,45 1815 Mount Tambora eruption
13,30 Ragnarok and volcanic eruptions
15,00 What happens in the 6th century in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe
19,30 Agriculture, wheat and barley crops and modelling growing temperatures
23,00 Regional variations, complexity
24,00 Pollen cores in the Gudbrandsvalley & population changes
26,45 6th century as collapse or transition?
29,45 Anticipating crisis before crisis happens? Catastrophisation at work
33,35 Justinian Plague & population centres
37,00 Crisis as catalyst or 'a window of opportunity'
37,30 Warrior aristocracies in Scandinavia & 'the charismatic leader'
40,30 What's the most important thing we need to do when we examine this data?
42,45 Vulnerability as a concept
46,30 Combine the grand narrative with the detail of the data

May 21, 202148:05
Cities, Towns and People

Cities, Towns and People

In Episode 1, Rebecca talks to Annalee Newitz about their new book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age. Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate. Here, listen to Rebecca and Annalee talk about what it is that makes urban life urban, what happens in cities, and how people come together in cities. 

2,20 "The delightful chance meetings and life-changing random encounters" of urban life
5,30 Feasts and parties
7,30 Role of farming, city versus country, agriculture as a part of the urban process
11,30 Change and transition in community,
14,30 Early Viking Dublin
18,00 Towns and Cities along travel routes
20,30 Cahokia & its pyramids
25,00 Role of religion in coming together to create urban places
30,00 Populations and comparative sizes of settlements
34,15 Migration to cities & labour forces
38,00 Slavery
40,00 Responses of cities to their environments, resilience and materiality of settlement
47,00 Hinterland relationships
51,30 City at the centre of its network

May 21, 202101:01:27