30th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies
Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York City: March 27-28, 2010

Dayanna Knight, "Culture Contact in the Norse North Atlantic AD 800-1500"

My current research explores the multi-layered aspects of culture contact events associated with the western expansion of Viking Age and Medieval Scandinavian spheres of influence by utilizing the methodology developed to promote interaction between site researchers during the flurry of publication associated with the Columban Quincentennial (please see Lightfoot, Martinez and Schiff 1998; Lightfoot 1995; Kirch 1992; and Sahlins 1985 among others).  Specifically this includes the islands of the North Atlantic- the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and the attempt on the North American continent.  This is a consideration which employs a wide variety of source material that makes use of aspects of both prehistoric and historic source material. A temporal aspect to this consideration is established via the utilization of site sampling, which is done in an effort to consider these contact situations equally as well as to properly consider change over time.  Case studies have also been used to further highlight the contact events themselves, such as marine mammal exploitation.  The Norse North Atlantic is a complex situation in other ways as well, however, as a wide variety of enabling conditions ultimately provided for a time the circumstances necessary for the long term success of a number of the settlements established during this period.  These same conditions allowed another group of peoples, the Thule,  to eventually come into contact of a semi-periodic nature with the incoming Norse populations as well, yet is often is considered only as a side note to the mystery of the decline of the furthest Norse settlements.  It is my intention to consider the evidence in a subjective manner as possible with the sources available.


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