Environmental impacts around the time of Norse landnám in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland

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Abstract

Palynology, radiocarbon dating, and open-section stratigraphies from archaeological trenches are used to examine the impact of human activity around the time of Norse landnam on vegetation and landscape associated with a small farm (emptyset 34) in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland (61 degrees N 45 degrees W). Peat deposits from a mire abutting the Norse ruins revealed a discontinuous palaeoenvironmental record containing a possible hiatus from ca. AD 410-1020. Palaeovegetational data were recovered either side of this period. Pollen assemblages suggest that open Salix scrub dominated the landscape during the pre-settlement phase. The later phases of landnam resulted in the creation of hay fields and heavily-grazed grassy heath. Site abandonment is reflected by a re-expansion of Salix. This occurs shortly before the onset of deposition of a Sphagnum peat, dated to cal AD 1420-1630 (2 sigma) and reflecting an increase in mire surface wetness, probably in response to a deteriorating climate. Radiocarbon dates were obtained on peat and plant macrofossils sampled from either side of the proposed hiatus at two different but closely-spaced (<20 m) locations across the mire. These produced significantly different dates for the cessation of peat formation in the pre-landnam period (cal BC 2130-1770 and cal AD 240-410 respectively), but near-synchronous dates for the recommencement of peat growth (cal AD 890-1150 for peat and a probably more reliable interval of cal AD 1020-1190 based on plant macrofossils). It is suggested that this hiatus may represent the first direct evidence for peat cutting in Norse Greenland. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1643-1657
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume35
Issue number6
Early online date21 Dec 2007
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

Keywords

  • Greenland
  • Norse Eastern Settlement
  • landnam
  • pollen analysis
  • radiocarbon dating
  • peat cutting

Cite this

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title = "Environmental impacts around the time of Norse landn{\'a}m in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland",
abstract = "Palynology, radiocarbon dating, and open-section stratigraphies from archaeological trenches are used to examine the impact of human activity around the time of Norse landnam on vegetation and landscape associated with a small farm (emptyset 34) in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland (61 degrees N 45 degrees W). Peat deposits from a mire abutting the Norse ruins revealed a discontinuous palaeoenvironmental record containing a possible hiatus from ca. AD 410-1020. Palaeovegetational data were recovered either side of this period. Pollen assemblages suggest that open Salix scrub dominated the landscape during the pre-settlement phase. The later phases of landnam resulted in the creation of hay fields and heavily-grazed grassy heath. Site abandonment is reflected by a re-expansion of Salix. This occurs shortly before the onset of deposition of a Sphagnum peat, dated to cal AD 1420-1630 (2 sigma) and reflecting an increase in mire surface wetness, probably in response to a deteriorating climate. Radiocarbon dates were obtained on peat and plant macrofossils sampled from either side of the proposed hiatus at two different but closely-spaced (<20 m) locations across the mire. These produced significantly different dates for the cessation of peat formation in the pre-landnam period (cal BC 2130-1770 and cal AD 240-410 respectively), but near-synchronous dates for the recommencement of peat growth (cal AD 890-1150 for peat and a probably more reliable interval of cal AD 1020-1190 based on plant macrofossils). It is suggested that this hiatus may represent the first direct evidence for peat cutting in Norse Greenland. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.",
keywords = "Greenland, Norse Eastern Settlement, landnam, pollen analysis, radiocarbon dating, peat cutting",
author = "Schofield, {James Edward} and Edwards, {Kevin John} and C. Christensen",
year = "2008",
month = "6",
doi = "10.1016/j.jas.2007.11.004",
language = "English",
volume = "35",
pages = "1643--1657",
journal = "Journal of Archaeological Science",
issn = "0305-4403",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Environmental impacts around the time of Norse landnám in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland

AU - Schofield, James Edward

AU - Edwards, Kevin John

AU - Christensen, C.

PY - 2008/6

Y1 - 2008/6

N2 - Palynology, radiocarbon dating, and open-section stratigraphies from archaeological trenches are used to examine the impact of human activity around the time of Norse landnam on vegetation and landscape associated with a small farm (emptyset 34) in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland (61 degrees N 45 degrees W). Peat deposits from a mire abutting the Norse ruins revealed a discontinuous palaeoenvironmental record containing a possible hiatus from ca. AD 410-1020. Palaeovegetational data were recovered either side of this period. Pollen assemblages suggest that open Salix scrub dominated the landscape during the pre-settlement phase. The later phases of landnam resulted in the creation of hay fields and heavily-grazed grassy heath. Site abandonment is reflected by a re-expansion of Salix. This occurs shortly before the onset of deposition of a Sphagnum peat, dated to cal AD 1420-1630 (2 sigma) and reflecting an increase in mire surface wetness, probably in response to a deteriorating climate. Radiocarbon dates were obtained on peat and plant macrofossils sampled from either side of the proposed hiatus at two different but closely-spaced (<20 m) locations across the mire. These produced significantly different dates for the cessation of peat formation in the pre-landnam period (cal BC 2130-1770 and cal AD 240-410 respectively), but near-synchronous dates for the recommencement of peat growth (cal AD 890-1150 for peat and a probably more reliable interval of cal AD 1020-1190 based on plant macrofossils). It is suggested that this hiatus may represent the first direct evidence for peat cutting in Norse Greenland. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

AB - Palynology, radiocarbon dating, and open-section stratigraphies from archaeological trenches are used to examine the impact of human activity around the time of Norse landnam on vegetation and landscape associated with a small farm (emptyset 34) in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland (61 degrees N 45 degrees W). Peat deposits from a mire abutting the Norse ruins revealed a discontinuous palaeoenvironmental record containing a possible hiatus from ca. AD 410-1020. Palaeovegetational data were recovered either side of this period. Pollen assemblages suggest that open Salix scrub dominated the landscape during the pre-settlement phase. The later phases of landnam resulted in the creation of hay fields and heavily-grazed grassy heath. Site abandonment is reflected by a re-expansion of Salix. This occurs shortly before the onset of deposition of a Sphagnum peat, dated to cal AD 1420-1630 (2 sigma) and reflecting an increase in mire surface wetness, probably in response to a deteriorating climate. Radiocarbon dates were obtained on peat and plant macrofossils sampled from either side of the proposed hiatus at two different but closely-spaced (<20 m) locations across the mire. These produced significantly different dates for the cessation of peat formation in the pre-landnam period (cal BC 2130-1770 and cal AD 240-410 respectively), but near-synchronous dates for the recommencement of peat growth (cal AD 890-1150 for peat and a probably more reliable interval of cal AD 1020-1190 based on plant macrofossils). It is suggested that this hiatus may represent the first direct evidence for peat cutting in Norse Greenland. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KW - Greenland

KW - Norse Eastern Settlement

KW - landnam

KW - pollen analysis

KW - radiocarbon dating

KW - peat cutting

U2 - 10.1016/j.jas.2007.11.004

DO - 10.1016/j.jas.2007.11.004

M3 - Article

VL - 35

SP - 1643

EP - 1657

JO - Journal of Archaeological Science

JF - Journal of Archaeological Science

SN - 0305-4403

IS - 6

ER -