Codfish and Kings, Seals and Subsistence: Norse Marine Resource Use in the North Atlantic
By Sophia Perdikaris and Thomas H. McGovern
Human Impacts on Ancient Marine Environments, edited by Torben Rick and Jon Erlandson (UCLA Press, 2008)
Introduction: In the past two decades the archaeology and paleoecology of the North Atlantic have been transformed by a series of major international, interdisciplinary projects . Most have been inspired by the theoretical framework of historical ecology in their investigation of the complex interactions of climate, landscape change, and human culture in the region, and all have made geoarchaeology, archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, and human osteology part of their fundamental research design. Since 1990, the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization has aided these collective efforts by holding coordinating meetings and workshops (New York 1992, Glasgow 1994, St. Johns 1997, Glasgow 2001, Akureyri 2002, Copenhagen 2003, Quebec 2006), providing identification manuals and data management tools to aid comparability, and by publishing monographs, working group reports, and conference volumes. NABO has sponsored long-running international field schools in lceland and Shetland, which have drawn students from 26 nations since 1996. Major regional research foci include culture contact, the impact of climatic fluctuations of the Medieval and early modem period, and the varied environmental impacts of imported European agricultural systems upon island ecosystems. The interaction between marine and terrestrial economies is a cross-cutting theme that unites virtually all investigations in the region. This chapter presents some of the results of this long-term international collaboration and makes use of newly available data sets and regional syntheses to provide a broad overview of Norse use of marine resources for subsistence and for exchange in the North Atlantic.