Archaeological Video Project in Iceland

This summer will mark my eighth consecutive season of fieldwork in northeast Iceland.  I have been a part of several projects over the years that have sought to survey and excavate Viking Age and Medieval farm sites from the region, in an attempt to discover more about Norse historical ecology, economy, trade, and migration, among other things.  This summer I will be working with a team of archaeologists from the City University of New York at a site called Skutustaðir, where work has been conducted over the previous two years.  Skutustaðir was the site of a Viking Age chieftain’s farm, as referenced in the Icelandic Sagas, and a high ranking farm throughout the Medieval Period.  Besides the archaeological efforts in this region, there has also been much research in environmental science, geography, and biology, all collaborating through the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO).

Lake Mývatn

The location of Skutustaðir is on top of a “hill” on the southwest edge of Lake Mývatn.  This “hill” that it is perched upon is actually a pseudo-crater that the first inhabitants began to fill with midden debris and later contructed buildings on top of, until it became completely full.  This summer we will be digging a large trench through some of the deepest sections of midden, more than three meters deep in some places.  This is the primary significance of the site, that it provides a long uninterupted stratigraphic sequence, representing a continuous Norse occupation from the Viking Age through to the Early Modern Period.  This will prove very useful as a chronological benchmark for numerous other sites in the region that were only occupied temporarily.

Because of my interests in interactive technology and pedagogy, I have decided to pursue a video project in conjunction with the excavation this summer.  Throughout the course of the excavation I will be recording video footage of every step during the process.  These videos will be edited later in the year and hopefully serve a variety of uses: a reflexive tool for us archaeolgists to be able to examine and critique our own methods, as educational videos to aid in teaching undergraduates about archaeological methodology, and also simply to make the footage freely available on the Web for others to use.

Farm mound at Skutustaðir

The focal point of my blog this summer will be to document this process of recording our excavations at Skutustaðir.  Even though this pursuit is certainly not a novel idea in archaeology, it has not been done for any NABO projects that I am aware of.  These videos will be a useful tool for future archaeologists, scholars, and educators, to access and build upon.  It will be a learning process, as I do not have a background in film or media of any kind; only an interest in utilizing new media to help more fully explore and share my endeavors in the field of archaeology.  Wish me luck!

5 comments to Archaeological Video Project in Iceland

  • Oh, is that what’s going on over there?

    Really looking forward to this blog. Please keep an eye on my favorite Viking.

  • Frances Forrest

    Way Cool Aaron! Can’t wait to see more footage of the excavation!

  • Thomas H McGovern

    Hi Aaron

    Great work! Just make sure all the profiles look straight…… and many thanks!

    Tom McGovern

  • […] Kendall @Akendall wins best summer prize.  He’s going to be blogging (and filming!) about an archeological dig he’s involved with in Iceland for the summer.  In short, having a better time than me.  I don’t actually know […]

  • Aaron, it’s great to see some archaeology on the Commons! I’m looking forward to your videos from this summer’s field season. Have a great time in Iceland and say hi to Tom McGovern from me — he was on my dissertation committee (in my past life I was a zooarchaeologist).