Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey

SCASS Blog

July 31, 2015
by John Steinberg
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Geophysical Survey at Hegranesþing (Hegranes thing)

Brian and Allison

Brian and Allison

Brian Damiata was surveying with the CMD Explorer at Hegranesþing on a beautiful summer day.  Hegranesþing is one of the Quarter Assemblies.  It was a huge survey grid, and Brian walked over 18 km.  Allison Carlton recorded the survey and the data should be forthcoming.

CMD survey

CMD survey

July 30, 2015
by John Steinberg
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Church in Tephra: part One

Outlined in the 1104 Hekla tephra

Outlined in the 1104 Hekla tephra

I am sure there are some better pictures of the church to come from the drones and kites, but for now here is one  I took looking east from the top of the old farm mound of Kevlavík.  You can see the white 1104 tephra from Hekla forming a circle that is the inside of the churchyard.  The long axes of the turf church runes almost east west.  At the far end of the photo is the church apse is outlined in white tephra.  Now the question is what graves are before and after the 1104.

Here is a panorama looking northeast of the same church.IMG_1370

July 25, 2015
by scass
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Test Pit at Ás

For the past three days, we have been excavating a 1x2m test pit at Ás to determine the date of the earliest occupation of the site as determined by the presence of cultural material in relation to the tephra layers, as well as to understand the formation of the farm mound. Ás was one of the richest farms in Hegranes and one of the most important farms owned by the Ásbirningar clan, which controlled much of Skagafjörður in the 12th and 13th centuries. Most of the manmade materials, including glass and ceramics, are limited to the topsoil.

Eric Johnson as he steadily excavates Test Pit 1 at Ás.

Eric Johnson as he steadily excavates Test Pit 1 at Ás.

We reached the 1300 tephra at around a meter deep. Below it we had bone-filled midden (which I as a zooarchaeologist am super excited about!). Although some of the bone was decomposing, we were able to identify bones from sheep/goats, cows, horses, pigs, and an as yet unidentified bird. Immediately beneath the pre-1300 midden was what appeared to be a ground surface, in which the number of bones dropped off sharply. It was in this context that we discovered a decorative ivory artifact. Since we have not encountered the 1104 tephra layer yet, we can probably assume that it came from the time period between 1104 and 1300 AD. It is around the width of a quarter with incised decorations. Our best guess as to what is was right now is a fragment of an ivory comb.

…. Katie Wagner

Incised ivory, possibly a comb fragment.

Incised ivory, possibly a comb fragment.

July 24, 2015
by John Steinberg
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iPads in the field

Guðný and Eric using an iPad

Guðný and Eric using an iPad

This year there is a lot less paper blowing around because much of the data we are collecting goes straight into FileMaker.  Eric and Kat have done a great job of setting up a series of databases that make inputting contexts, cores, photos, and other data a snap.  Cell phone connections are so good around Skagafjörður that we are all able to write live to our FileMaker server back in Boston.

July 13, 2015
by scass
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New season, new project, new blog!

The Skagafjörður Archaeological Settlement Survey has joined forces with the Skagafjörður Folk Museum to form the Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey! New name, new blog. We have a lot of exciting research already in progress this summer – watch this space!

To see our previous posts, please visit our old blog: http://blogs.umb.edu/sass/

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