SASS – UMass Boston – Fiske Center – Archaeology

Blog of the Skagafjordur Archaeological Settlement Survey

Week 1: NABO Conference, Fermented Shark, and One Muddy Church


Hi all!

I thought I’d share my first impressions as newcomer to the SCASS (Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey) team this year. But first, a little about me. I recently graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Anthropology. This fall I’ll be a UMass Boston Master’s student starting focusing on Iceland for my thesis. I’m currently getting a feel for Icelandic archaeology (quite literally) before launching into my studies in September.

This week has flown by since arriving in Iceland on the 9th of July. After doing some geophysics on Hegranesþing, we headed over to Akureyri for the NABO conference over the weekend. John, Brian and Doug gave a talk on their current and future research. Based on the presentations over the course of two days, the North Atlantic is brimming with exciting research right now, especially with rapidly changing environmental conditions threatening archaeological sites all the way from Greenland to the UK.

On Monday, one team scouted out some potential Viking Age church sites to prep for geophysics while the rest of us cleaned up the ongoing excavation of the church at Stora-Seyla which began last year. The team has been working with Guðný Zöega and the Skagafjörður Museum the past couple of years, we’re excited to have them as official collaborators this year.

Monday night we partook in the yearly ritual of eating hákarl (fermented shark) and Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps). John deemed it “the ideal survival food.” I think most of the Americans agreed it should be reserved only for life or death situations.

Today, we continued excavating the church site at Stóra-Seyla, clearing out overburden in new sections and revealing turf walls and grave-cuts. The rain held off for most of the day, but we had to end a little early before we started troweling through straight mud.

Looking forward for week 2!


Rainbow count:  4

Author: ericjohnson002

MA Student at UMass Boston studying Historical Archaeology. Currently working on a MA Thesis in the Langholt region in Skagafjörður, Iceland.

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