Reflections of Change: The Natural World in Literary and Historical Sources from Iceland ca. AD 800 to 1800

As part of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute Research series this seminar on the environmental history of Iceland looks at weather, climate, and other environmental information in Icelandic literature from the Early Medieval period until c.1800. The famous Sagas of Icelanders illustrate an environment subject to rapid and volatile changes capable of causing great societal hardships.

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Dr Ragnhild Ljosland
email: ragnhild.ljosland@uhi.ac.uk

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Iceland is well known for its rich literary tradition, which includes a wealth of written works encompassing many genres, from the famous "Sagas of Icelanders" to numerous other corpora of great value. This documentary archive contains much information on the natural world (e.g., accounts of volcanic eruptions, encroachments of glaciers, flash floods, extreme winters, severe storms and damaging sea ice), hence it illustrates an environment subject to rapid and volatile changes capable of causing great societal hardships. The presentation will focus on aspects of a project that bears the same name as the presentation. The project is undertaking a systematic analysis of weather, climate and other environmental information in Icelandic literature - encompassing historiographic, literary and normative documents from the early medieval period to ca.1800. Research questions concern the development and transmission of local environmental knowledge, the emergence of native ideologies of nature and environment, and the development of land and resource use systems. In particular, the project is illuminating ongoing work on the environmental history of Iceland. The project is led by Astrid Ogilvie and co-led by Steven Hartman. Participants are: Viðar Hreinsson; Jón Haukur Ingimundarson and Árni Daníel Júlíusson. The project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Sweden. For further information see http://www.svs.is/en/projects/icechange

SPEAKER: Astrid E.J. Ogilvie

Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland/Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) University of Colorado, Boulder, USA/Visiting Professor, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute

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