WEBINAR: Volcanic Eruptions and Their Impacts on Viking Society - Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

AD 536 and 540 are important years in European history, and marks the advent of a series of documented environmental changes that affected societies throughout Europe in various ways. Sudden and severe climate deterioration led to vast crop failure and was followed by plague in the following decades and centuries (up to ca. AD 750?). How did this affect Scandinavian societies? Frode Iversen, professor at the Department of Archaeology at Museum of Cultural History, UiO, is here to tell us!

Image may contain: Geological phenomenon, Natural landscape, Aerial photography, Grass, Grass family.

Photo: The farm Hanaland in Time, Jæren, Norway, which is considered to be abandoned due to the 6th century crisis. Photograph Ragne Johnsrud AM, UiS.  

One of the key catastrophes in Norse mythology, termed Fimbulwinter (Old Norse: Fimbulvetr), has been described as the immediate prelude to the events of Ragnarǫkr – the twilight of the gods. This event has been correlated to the sixth century AD when Scandinavia has experienced the most radical social, economic and political transformations in prehistory.

In Scandinavia, large-scale abandonment of farms and farmlands is recorded in the 6th century. Most scholars today argue that this was linked to contemporary plague epidemics and climate change. The different social strategies for adapting to this crisis are, however, poorly understood. By investigating archaeological and climatic data from the centuries AD 500-800 across Scandinavia, this talk seeks to address topics related to human response to changes and disasters.

A great number of large-scale archaeological excavations in Southern Scandinavia during the last decades have generated a huge scientific material (settlements, production sites) for further research. Several hundred settlements and several thousand buildings have been identified through machine-based de-turfing. Many of these had more central locations than the classic abandoned farms. In particular, Iversen will discuss the elite response on the events.

About Frode Iversen

Frode Iversen is professor at the Department of Archaeology at Museum of Cultural History,
University of Oslo. He is a Viking Age specialist in the field of Historical archaeology, geography, climate and political systems in Northern Europe. From 2018, he takes part as principle investigator in a new interdisciplinary climate research group at UiO that received a five-year grant from NFR TOPPFORSK: Volcanic Eruptions and their Impacts on Climate, Environment, and Viking Society in 500–1250 CE (VIKINGS project).

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 10-15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: Environmental Humanities, HF, IKOS, OSEH, Archeology, Viking Age History, Climate
Published Sep. 15, 2020 3:15 PM - Last modified Oct. 7, 2020 6:58 PM