We’re headed back to Iceland today after two straight weeks of solid fieldwork! It rained almost every day, but we were able to get some great geophysical data from the two last sites we visited, E172 and E66. E172 was similar on the surface to early Icelandic farms – wet and cryoturbated, with structures about where we expected them to be. The data set should be great when we get a chance to look at it more closely.
After a midnight boat ride between icebergs through cold, blinding rain, we were back at the cozy yellow house at E66, just across the fjord from our first target, E64. E66 was very different from E64, which was nothing like E172 – Viking-age farms here are so far spread, and so very different from each other, that it makes logistics, survey, and interpretation very challenging! We set up a massive grid downslope of the visible church and farm mound at E66 and walked back and forth across it until dark. The soil there is basically sand, which will make it difficult to pick out early turf structures beneath the sediment. We still have a lot of work to interpret this data set as well.
We did get a couple of days without rain, and were able to get the kite flying at both E64 and E66. We got some absolutely amazing overhead photos of our gridded areas and the ongoing excavation at E64 – here’s one of them, it’s really cool. The kite photos really add a lot to our ability to target our surveys and then to interpret the results.
Yesterday – our last full day in Greenland – was sunny and warm. After a couple boat rides and a walk between fjords we hiked closer to the glacier north of Narsarsuaq, through a forest of tall birch trees. This might be what Iceland looked like when the Vikings first arrived, before they managed to deforest most of the island. And late last night we finally saw the aurora borealis, which was absolutely amazing. Greenland wants us to come back – and we’ve had such success over the last two weeks that we’re thinking about doing just that!