2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 119
An initial isotope diet study (Arneborg et al.
1999, Lynnerup 1998) indicated that the subsistence
economy in Norse Greenland shifted from a
predominantly terrestrial to a predominantly marine
diet. This change is in accordance with the theories
drawing upon the animal-bone record (McGovern
1985). This first isotope study was, however, limited.
It included only a few samples, all of which
were of human bone, and only the δ13C values were
measured. The present study includes 123 samples
from human and 213 from animal bones, evenly
distributed between both domesticated and wild animals,
and measurements of both δ13C and the δ15N
(Nelson et al. 2012a, Nelson et al. 2012c, Nelson et
al. 2012d [all this volume]). The samples are from 19
Norse sites (farms): 13 are from the Eastern Settlement
(Fig. 1) and 6 are from the Western Settlement
(Fig. 2). The sites are described in detail in Arneborg
et al. (2012a [this volume]), and sampling strategies
are described in detail in Arneborg et al. (2012a),
Nelson et al. (2012a), Nelson et al. (2012b), Nelson
et al. (2012c), Nelson et al. (2012d) (all this volume).
Apart from the obvious question of whether the new
study confirms the observed shift in the Norse diet,
we also posed questions concerning how this shift
occurred. Was it a gradual change or did it happen
within the space of a few years? Did the shift reflect
altered farming strategies? Were there differences
between the two settlement areas, between farms,
and between the sexes? What kind of marine food
was consumed? The origin of the sampled humans
was also considered. Were the bones of immigrants
or of people who had grown up in Greenland?
This paper is a summary of the archaeological
results that can be deduced from the preceding
technical papers discussing Norse Greenland diet
on the basis of δ13C and the δ15N values of both human
and animal samples. In Nelson et al. (2012a,
2012c [this volume]) the isotopic values of the terrestrial
and wild animals of importance to the Norse
dietary economy are presented and discussed, and
the conclusion is that there is sufficient variation
within each group to require detailed consideration
in interpreting isotopic information on the humans.
In Nelson et al. (2012b [this volume]), we present a
small study on the Greenland Thule Culture to test
the use of the isotopic method on Greenlandic material.
All Thule Culture samples are from humans
from before the recolonization of Greenland in 1721
and are thought to come from people that had a almost
100% marine diet (Gulløv 2012 [this volume]).
Nelson et al. (2012c [this volume]) present the study
on the Norse animal husbandry, and the carbon
isotope values for the herbivores of dietary importance
to the Norse were, in general, as expected for
Human Diet and Subsistence Patterns in Norse Greenland AD
c.980–AD c.1450: Archaeological Interpretations
Jette Arneborg1,2,*, Niels Lynnerup3, and Jan Heinemeier4
Abstract - In this concluding paper of the JONA special volume on the Norse Greenland isotope study, we summarize the
archaeological interpretations of the previous, technical papers. The study supports the conclusions and widens the results
of our earlier limited study, i.e., that the diet of the Norse Greenlanders became more dependent on marine resources over
time. The isotope data provide information at the level of the individual, and the study indicates that the Norse Greenlanders
had an isotopically varied diet; there is no evidence that these differences were linked to sex or age. The shift in diet
seems to have happened gradually, perhaps beginning during the initial settlement. The swiftness of the change, however,
depended on where the immigrants settled; settlers in the southern part of the Eastern Settlement and in the Western Settlement
may have adapted to the marine resources more rapidly than those in the central Eastern Settlement region. Social
differences may partly explain the isotopically varied diet within Norse society; this explanation is, however, not without
its reservations. Despite the changes in the dietary economy, and the increasing dependence on the marine resources, farming
strategies remained unchanged. Climate change and unsustainable land-use practices have been proposed as two of the
main reasons for the depopulation of the Norse Greenland settlements in the late 1400s, and it is obvious to draw attention
to these factors when trying to explain the changes in the dietary economy. It is, however, more doubtful whether the
environmental changes were, after all, the sole cause of the depopulation of the Norse Greenland settlement. The Norse
Greenlanders apparently adapted well to their physical environment, and they could survive on the marine resources in as
far as they were available.
Special Volume 3:119–133
Greenland Isotope Project: Diet in Norse Greenland AD 1000–AD 1450
Journal of the North Atlantic
1Danish Middle Ages and Renaissance, Research and Exhibitions, The National Museum of Denmark Frederiksholms Kanal
12, DK-1220 Copenhagen, Denmark. 2Institute of Geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Scotland,
UK. 3Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, Section of Forensic Pathology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
4AMS 14C Dating Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 120, DK-8000
Aarhus C, Denmark. *Corresponding author - firstname.lastname@example.org.
120 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
animals living in a C3 environment, and the dataset
provides a solid basis for isotopic dietary analyses of
the Norse themselves. In Nelson et al. (2012d [this
volume]) the measures of the stable carbon (δ13C)
and nitrogen (δ15N) values of human bone collagen
have been made for 80 individuals from an existing
collection of Norse skeletal material. These data are
interpreted with the aid of the data obtained for the
wild fauna, for the Norse domestic animals, and for
a number of Thule Culture individuals of about the
same time period.
Our study shows that the isotope data provide
information at the level of the individual. The study
indicates, furthermore, that the Norse had an isotopically
varied diet, which must reflect dietary differences
within Norse society. However, there is no
evidence that these differences were linked to sex
or age (Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]), whereas
chronological, geographic, and social differences
are aspects that should be further pursued. Furthermore,
there was, on the face of it, a greater relative
consumption of marine protein in the Eastern Settlement
compared to that of the Western Settlement
(Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]). This difference
too should be examined in more detail.
Only what were described as “robust” samples
were included in the previous technical chapter on
Norse dietary analysis (Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]).
This approach was taken because the validation
of the method itself was of prime consideration.
In this chapter, samples were designated “suspect”
if they gave a low collagen yield or were suspected
of containing possible remnants of preservatives
(Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]). However, as discussed
in Nelson et al. (2012d [this volume]), identical
isotopic results were obtained by two different
laboratories with very different procedures and a
focus on preservative removal. Therefore, in the following
discussion all samples are included—with,
of course, due account being taken of the problems
raised in the preceding chapters.
Furthermore, in Nelson et al. (2012d [this volume])
the Tjodhildes church material was omitted as
possibly being from immigrants (i.e., from Icelanders)
and therefore not suitable for the validation of
the method of evaluating Greenland human dietary
resources based on analysis of the local faunal isotope
values. Again, in the following, the Tjodhilde
samples are included in a belief that all samples
should be studied in their own right and that archaeologically
we cannot rule out beforehand the
possibility that this small church served more than
one generation of immigrant Norse Greenlanders.
Figure 1. Map of the Norse Eastern Settlement with the sites included in the study. White is the inland ice, blue is the sea,
and yellow is the land. The individual sites are described in detail in Arneborg et al. (2012a [this volume]).
2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 121
Chronology: Diet over Time
All samples included in the study are presented
in Arneborg et al. (2012a [this volume]). Forty-three
human samples have been AMS dated at the AMS
14C Dating Centre at Aarhus University; 30 are from
the Eastern Settlement and 13 are from the Western
Settlement. In addition to these, AMS-dated human
samples from unpublished archaeological excavations
at churches Ø1, Ø23, Ø35 and Ø481 have been
added to the dataset, as have the 1982 Anavik samples
and human fragments found at the Vatnahverfi
farm Ø167 (Arneborg et al. 2012a: tables 3–17
[this volume], Lynnerup et al. in Vebæk 1992:64ff.)
An additional six samples from the Sandnes
churchyard in the Western Settlement (samples # 184,
247, 249, 250, 254, 255) have been dated archaeologically
(Arneborg et al. 2012a: table 13 [this volume]),
as have one of the samples from Tjodhildes church
(sample #165; Arneborg et al. 2012a: table 4 [this
volume]) and seven samples (samples #220, 221,
222, 224, 226, 227, and 228) from Ø149, Narsarsuaq
(Arneborg et al. 2012a: table 10 [this volume]).
Figure 3 shows δ13C values for all the dated
human samples sorted in time (cf. Arneborg et al.
2011a: tables 3–17 [this volume]), and the distribution
demonstrates that the amount of marine protein
in the Norse diet increased through time. With a few
exceptions, the estimated mid-point value (δ13C=
-16.3‰) between the endpoints δ13C= -19.2‰ and
-13.4‰ for 100% terrestrial and 100% marine food
protein, respectively (cf. Nelson et al. 2012d [this
volume]), was crossed in the second half of the 13th
century (Table 1). Because of the observed tight correlation
between δ15N and δ13C values for the Norse
humans (Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]), we have
not made similar plots of the time development in the
δ15N values in Figure 3 and the following figures.
Locals or Immigrants?
The increasing marine element in the Norse
diet is noticeable. There is, however, some levelling
off from AD 1300 onwards (Fig. 3). We cannot,
however, rule out the possibility that some of the
samples, especially in the early period, may derive
from immigrants, especially those from Ø29a Brattahlid–
Tjodhildes Church in Qassiarsuk (Arneborg
et al. 2012a [this volume]), which we have touched
upon already. Forming the majority of the early
Figure 2. Map of the Norse Western Settlement with the sites included in the study. White is the inland ice, blue is the sea,
and yellow is the land. The individual sites are described in detail in Arneborg et al. (2012a [this volume]).
122 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
samples, the Tjodhilde samples play
an important role in the discussion
about changing dietary habits. The
Tjodhilde samples have a more terrestrial
signature than the later samples in
the Greenland dataset, and this finding,
together with the early date for the
church, has been one of the main arguments
for categorizing the samples
as possibly being from immigrants
(Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]).
A further indication of at least some
immigrants being present at Tjodhilde
is the rather diverse oxygen isotope
composition in the dental enamel
of some of the humans buried there
(Fricke et al. 1995), indicating different
climatic early life conditions.
The number and density of graves
in the Tjodhilde churchyard was relatively
high compared to the other early
churches (but not when compared
with the late medieval churchyards
[Lynnerup 1998]). It appears from
the archaeological excavations that,
in some places, the burials were in at
least two layers (confirmed by Svend
Erik Albrethsen, Heritage Agency
of Denmark [KUAS], Copenhagen,
Denmark, who participated in the
excavations; pers. comm. to J. Arneborg)
with later burials disturbing
older—and presumably forgotten—
graves. Most of our samples are from
intact skeletons, indicating that they
were the last (or the first and only) to
be buried on the specific spot where
they were found.
When compared with Icelandic
samples (Tables 1 and 2, and Fig. 4)
from the same period, the Tjodhilde
samples are slightly more marine than
those from contemporaneous Icelanders.
In fact, only two Greenlandic
samples in our dataset are as “terrestrial”
as the bulk of the Icelandic
values, and none of these are from
Three scenarios for the interpretation
of the isotope signal of each of the
Tjodhilde Church individuals may be
possible: 1) The individual was born
and raised in Greenland, and belonged
to an early generation of Norse Greenlanders
that shifted to a slightly more
marine diet than that of their Icelandic
predecessors; 2) The individual was
among the immigrants from Iceland
Table 1. Summary of all AMS-dated human samples from Greenland in the present
study. For complete information on the individual dates, please see Arneborg et al.
(2012a [this volume]: tables 2–16). The quoted calibrated ages have been marinereservoir
corrected based on δ13C values as described in Arneborg et al. (1999). For
clarity, the calibrated ages are given as intercept or intercepts with the calibration curve
(i.e., the most probable single calendar years) and the intercept intervals (in brackets)
corresponding to ±1 sigma in the measured 14C age.
Calibrated age intercept(s) and
Project ID Lab ID δ13C (‰) VPDB δ15N 1 sigma range (in brackets)
Tj#18 AAR-1275 -18.50 - 976 (894–996)
Tj#28 AAR-1571 -18.00 - 985 (909–1017)
Ø35#a AAR-7882 -19.87 7.68 1002 (983–1022)
Tj#11 AAR-1267 -18.00 12.18 1020 (995–1043)
Ø35#c AAR-7884 -17.68 12.24 1022 (1003–1033)
Ø35#b AAR-7883 -16.74 14.16 1026 (1009–1042)
Ø48#a AAR-7879 -20.00 7.99 1037 (1025–1155)
V51#197 AAR-5257 -16.70 15.43 1038 (1021–1151)
V51#240 AAR-5258 -16.40 15.28 1045 (1030–1116)
Tj#12 AAR-1268 -17.60 12.78 1065–1115 (1028–1171)
Ø48#b AAR-7880 -17.30 12.97 1124–1153 (1042–1169)
Tj#25 AAR-1568 -18.60 11.35 1165 (1046–1218)
Tj#16 AAR-1272 -18.90 11.43 1169 (1061–1222)
Tj#27 AAR-1570 -16.80 - 1172 (1063–1227)
Tj#26 AAR-1569 -19.00 - 1175 (1061–1226)
Tj#19 AAR-1276 -18.00 - 1192 (1122–1228)
Ø35#d AAR-7881 -17.75 12.75 1213 (1167–1250)
V7#175 AAR-5404 -17.80 14.28 1219 (1186–1261)
Ø47#20 AAR-1437 -16.50 15.31 1233 (1170–1281)
Ø47#22 AAR-1439 -18.70 14.01 1272 (1223–1290)
Ø167 K-5889 -19.10 - 1275 (1265–1285)
Ø111#205 AAR-6167 -16.20 16.94 1285 (1260–1295)
Ø149#214 AAR-6147 -15.10 17.52 1290 (1280–1305)
Ø149#216 AAR-6149 -14.20 17.54 1290 (1270–1305)
V51#258 AAR-5261 -15.50 16.38 1294 (1285–1303)
Ø111#208 AAR-6130 -15.50 16.42 1295 (1285–1305)
Ø111#210 AAR-6131 -15.40 16.79 1295 (1285–1305)
Ø47#21 AAR-1438 -17.60 - 1295 (1256–1392)
V51#253 AAR-5259 -16.60 14.54 1296 (1287–1305)
V51#1 AAR-1143 -15.10 15.33 1297 (1275–1317)
Ø66#24 AAR-1442 -17.10 14.72 1297 (1279–1442)
V51#256 AAR-5260 -16.60 14.58 1299 (1291–1309)
V7#a K-4117 -16.60 - 1299 (1283–1323)
Ø23#a AAR-8590 -16.20 16.14 1299 (1288–1314)
V51#3 AAR-1145 -16.30 14.85 1301 (1282–1322)
V51#5 AAR-1147 -16.50 14.89 1301 (1284–1320)
Ø149#215 AAR-6148 -15.90 16.43 1305 (1290–1325)
V51#6 AAR-1148 -15.80 15.40 1307 (1290–1328)
Ø1#b AAR-8586 -16.50 15.00 1308 (1299–1324)
Ø111#206 AAR-6128 -14.70 16.74 1320 (1300–1385)
Ø111#207 AAR-6129 -15.40 16.35 1320 (1305–1390)
Ø23#b AAR-8589 -15.60 16.07 1320 (1304–1388)
Ø149#9 AAR-1265 -16.10 15.29 1322 (1301–1399)
Ø149#213 AAR-6146 -15.30 16.63 1340–1390 (1320–1405)
Ø149#8 AAR-1264 -14.70 17.39 1389 (1312–1414)
V51#4 AAR-1146 -14.10 15.66 1390 (1323–1412)
Ø66#23 AAR-1441 -15.80 - 1392 (1279–1317)
V7#174 AAR-5403 -16.60 15.27 1394 (1323–1407)
Ø149#10 AAR-1266 -16.20 16.11 1399 (1325–1418)
V7#b K-4120 -15.00 - 1403 (1329–1427)
Ø149#7 AAR-1263 -15.60 14.79 1404 (1329–1428)
V51#2 AAR-1144 -15.10 15.18 1408 (1390 – 1428)
Ø111#13 AAR-1269 -14.40 17.54 1418 (1329–1456)
Ø1#a AAR-8585 -14.90 17.45 1426 (1412–1438)
Ø111#15 AAR-1271 -16.60 15.57 1430 (1407–1447)
Ø111#14 AAR-1270 -16.20 15.60 1437 (1413–1467)
Ø23#c AAR-8591 -16.50 16.07 1448 (1436–1469)
2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 123
reflecting a rapid shift to a more marine diet after they
settled in Greenland, but only partly reflected in their
remains, due to slow bone collagen turnover which
is estimated to be 5 to 20 years, depending on bone
element, compactness, and age of the individual (for
a full discussion see Jørkov et al. 2009 and references
therein); or 3) The individual came from the West
Fjords in Iceland, where a particularly marine diet
was predominant (Sveinbjörnsdóttir et al. 2010).
At least one of the samples in our dataset is
definitely from an immigrant: one of the Greenlandic
bishops who were buried at Gardar (Arneborg
et al. 2012 [this volume]). As a high-status person,
the bishop may have had a predominantly terrestrial
diet. However, all the bishops in Norse Greenland
were immigrants (Arneborg 1991), and therefore
the isotope data most likely reflect the bishop’s diet
during the time spent in his homeland of Norway
(Fig. 3, Ø47#22).
Apart from the bishop, another sample (Fig. 3,
Ø167) deviates from the main trend. This sample is
from the cranial remains of a 20–25-year-old male
that were found in the passage of the centralized
farm at the Vatnahverfifarm Ø167 (Arneborg et al.
2012a [this volume], Vebæk 1992:64). This is indeed
an extraordinary place to find human remains and is
difficult to explain.
For all the other samples, with the exception of
their date, our isotope study does not give convincing
evidence on which to conclude whether they derive
from immigrants or foreigners, and even given
our reservations concerning the uncertainty of the
provenance of some of the early samples, the apparent
tendency for the dietary economy in Greenland
to become more dependent on the marine resources
over time is maintained.
Marine Consumption: Eastern Settlement
Compared to Western Settlement
Without the chronological perspective, both the
δ13C and the δ15N averages indicate that there was
a greater relative consumption of marine protein
in the Eastern Settlement compared to the Western
Settlement (Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]).
When the chronological perspective is included,
developments in the dietary economy of the two settlements
are more or less identical (Fig. 5). The differences
in δ13C are insignificant from c. A.D. 1300
onwards, and the apparently more marine diet in the
Eastern Settlement can be explained in terms of the
chronology. The majority of the late marine samples
are all from the Eastern Settlement.
Taking a closer look at our Eastern Settlement
samples, there appear to be some geographical differences
within the settlement (Fig. 6): a central
region group, including the samples from inner-fjord
Tunulliarfik and inner-fjord Igaliku fjord where
Figure 3. δ13C values in all AMS-dated human samples. Time progression is left to right. Sample Tj#18 is AMS-dated AD
976 (894–996). Sample Ø111#14 is AMS-dated AD 1448 (1436–1469). See also Table 1. For a summary plot of all human
δ15N versus δ13C values see Nelson et al. (2012d [this volume]).
124 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
Table 2. Icelandic samples (from Sveinbjörnsdóttir et al 2010). The quoted calibrated ages have been marine-reservoir corrected based on
δ13C values as described in Sveinbjörnsdóttir et al. 2010.
1 sigma range
Site Id Sex Age 14C Age (BP) (68.2% probability) δ13C (‰) δ15N (‰) Lab ID
Brimnes vid Dalvik, Eyjafjardarsýsla, Nordurland
DAV-A-9/6039 F 20 1150 ± 35 978–1027 -18.59 11.80 AAR-5860
Sílastadir í Glæsibæjarhreppi, Eyjafjadarsýsla
SSG-A-1/1.10´47 II M Adult 1238 ± 35 810–950 -19.33 10.94 AAR-5863
HFH-B-2, K83 F c. 20 949 ± 28 1216–1261 -18.15 13.05 AAR-5916
HFH-B-3, K84 F Adult 861 ± 36 1224–1269 -19.35 9.11 AAR-5917
KEH-A-05 F 50+ 1011 ± 37 1040–1160 -19.22 12.40 AAR-9234
KEH-A-08,K8 M 35–50 1065 ± 50 980–1150 -19.65 12.92 AAR-9235
KEH-A-20,K20 M 35–50 973 ± 39 1050–1210 -19.41 12.92 AAR-9236
KEH-A-07,K7 F? 50+ 1055 ± 50 980–1150 -19.86 11.21 AAR-9237
KEH-A-06,K6 F 20–35 1027 ± 49 1020–1160 -19.74 11.83 AAR-9238
KEH-A-11,K11 M 35–50 949 ± 37 1040–1160 -20.28 14.52 AAR-9239
KEH-A-07,K7 M? 50+ 1004 ± 29 1020–1160 -19.90 11.80 AAR-9240
KEH-B-08,K43 M 50+ 1054 ± 37 1020–1160 -19.18 11.44 AAR-9241
KEH-A-22,K22 M 50+ 1110 ± 42 970–1045 -19.24 12.70 AAR-9242
KEH-A-13,K13 M 50+ 1153 ± 50 895–995 -19.76 11.69 AAR-9243
KEH-A-28, K28 M 20–35 1265 ± 55 890–1010 -17.33 14.40 AAR-9244
KEH-B-16,K51 F 35–50 1135 ± 39 900–1020 -19.55 12.01 AAR-9245
KEH-B-10,K45 F 35–50 988 ± 42 1040–1170 -19.46 12.21 AAR-9246
KEH-B-07,K42 12–15 1156 ± 38 900–1020 -19.08 13.61 AAR-9247
KEH-B-15,K50 F? 1116 ± 44 900–1030 -19.58 10.90 AAR-9248
KEH-A-02,K2 F 20–35 1010 ± 39 1040–1170 -19.04 12.02 AAR-9249
KEH-A-15,K15 8–10 952 ± 38 1050–1220 -19.55 11.85 AAR-9250
KEH-A-29,K29 M? 15–20 979 ± 45 1040–1190 -19.41 11.48 AAR-9251
Kuml-01 F 1220 ± 30 780–940 -19.82 12.50 AAR-9252
Kuml-04 M 1150 ± 49 900–1030 -18.91 12.50 AAR-9253
Kuml-03 1148 ± 36 895–990 -19.86 12.00 AAR-9254
VDP-A-2 1330 ± 42 870–990 -16.76 13.80 AAR-5865
VDP-A-3 M 1320 ± 35 900–985 -16.37 15.50 AAR-5866
VDP-A-4 F 1263 ± 28 976–1022 -16.55 14.20 AAR-5867
VDP-A-5 F 1289 ± 37 890–975 -17.39 13.60 AAR-5868
VDP-A-6 M 1308 ± 30 810–940 -17.98 12.10 AAR-5869
VDP-A-7 M 1259 ± 26 895–985 -17.72 12.90 AAR-5871
Brú á Jökulsdal, Nordur-Múlasýsla
BAJ-A-1, H149 F 30+ 1145 ± 34 890–1010 -19.63 9.40 AAR-5874
Straumur, Tunguhreppi, Nordur-Múlasýsla
STT-A-2 1135 ± 35 960–1030 -19.21 9.38 AAR-5875
Vad í Skriddalur, Sudur Múlasýsla
VAS-A-1, H148 M 30+ 1060 ± 35 1010–1150 -19.37 8.86 AAR-5877
Skeljastadir í Thjórsárdal
Grav 39d F 25+ 1075 ± 35 984–1032 -19.86 10.46 AAR-5880
Grav 41as M Adult 1094 ± 27 991–1021 -19.73 7.79 AAR-5883
Grav 16s F 907 ± 31 1155–1220. -20.10 8.38 AAR-5886
Grav 60s M 1058 ± 29 1010–1150. -19.35 7.44 AAR-5887
Grav 47 M Adult 922 ± 28 1155–1220 -19.78 6.89 AAR-5888
Grav 38 M Adult 1154 ± 66 890–1020 -19.51 6.95 AAR-5890
Grav 12s F Adult 1183 ± 40 895–990 -19.15 7.55 AAR-5891
Bishop Páll M 40+ 918 ± 28 1165–1220 -19.54 9.98 AAR-5908
F ? Adult 905–1020 -19.97 AAR-5918
SVE-A-1 M 1210 ± 26 870–970 -19.68 8.00 AAR-5870
2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 125
towards an increasing dependence on marine resources
through time is pronounced, whereas in the
southern group the marine component is relatively
steady throughout the sampled period; the samples
most of our samples are from, and a southern group,
including the samples from mid-fjord farm Ø149
and coastal farm Ø111 (Arneborg et al. 2012a [this
volume]). In the central region group, the tendency
Figure 4. δ13C values of Greenland samples compared with Icelandic samples (Sveinbjörnsdóttir et al. 2010). Tjodhilde’s
Church samples are marked in green diamonds. Age increases from right to left. The earliest sample from Iceland is dated
to AD 968 (894–991), see Table 2. The latest sample from Greenland is dated to AD 1448 (1436–1469), see Table 1.
Figure 5. δ13C values of Greenland Eastern Settlement samples compared with Western Settlement samples. Age increases
from right to left.
126 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
are basically more marine than those from the central
Eastern Settlement. Unfortunately, we only have
samples for the southern group from the second half
of the 13th century onwards. It is, however, worth
noting that the southern samples are more marine
compared to contemporary central region samples,
indicating that from early times2 the economy of
the southern Eastern Settlement farms perhaps depended
more on marine resources than that of their
kinsmen to the north.
From the Western Settlement, the two Sandnes
samples (Figs. 1 [V51#197], 3 [V51#240]) from the
early period indicate that, in the early settlement period,
the subsistence economy of the Western Settlement
depended almost equally on animal husbandry
and on hunting and fishing. Over time, the dietary
economy changed in all three regions.
Norse Greenlanders Compared to other Viking
Age and Medieval Populations in Northern
Compared to other European populations in
the North Atlantic and the Baltic (data from: Barrett
and Richards 2004:261, Jay and Richards
2006, Kosiba et al. 2007:404, Linderholm et al.
2008:451, Müldner and Richards 2007:166, Privat
and O’Connell 2002:785, Reitsema et al. 2010:1417,
Sveinbjörndóttir et al. 2010), it is immediately apparent
that none of the other populations have as
marine a signal as the Norse Greenlanders; also, the
span between lowest and highest value is wider for
Greenland than for the others (with the reservation
that only mean values were available for Birka and
Ridanas, Sweden), indicating a more varied diet
within the Norse Greenlandic society. It seems that
the most comparable populations are Iceland, Ridanas
on Gotland, Sweden, and Newark Bay on Orkney,
UK (combining both Viking Age and Medieval Age
for the latter), which is probably to be expected
(Fig. 7). Especially in the first settlement period (ca.
980–1160), the Greenlanders are very much like
the populations in both Iceland and the UK, though
less marine than were the Viking Age population
at Newark Bay. In period II (ca. 1160–1300), the
dependence on the marine resources increased in
Greenland at the same time as differences within the
Greenlandic population increased (see also Fig. 3).
In the last period from ca. 1300 onwards, the Greenlanders
depended more on the marine resources than
did any of the other above-mentioned populations.
At the same time, the differences within the Norse
Greenlandic population decreased drastically.
Social Differences within Norse Greenland
The dietary differences seen in our Greenlandic
dataset may reflect either the location of the farm,
i.e., coastal or inland, from where the sampled individual
came or social differences within Norse
society (Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]); these underlying
details are, however, almost impossible to
reveal in our dataset when dealing with samples from
the later parish churches. The small landnam-churches
may be another matter because they only served an
extended household group (family, slaves, and servants).
In our dataset, the samples from Tjodhilde’s
Church (Ø29a), Ø35, and Ø48 are from small landnam
family churches. The anthropologist J. Balslev-
Jørgensen (2001) and dentists V. Alexandersen and F.
Prætorius (2003) argue that the Tjodhilde’s churchyard
was divided up socially, with lower-ranking
people buried on the north side of the church and
people of high-status on the south side. This conclusion
contrasts with that of Lynnerup (1998), who did
Figure 6. δ13C values of Central Eastern Settlement samples compared with samples from the southern part of Eastern
Settlement. Age increases from right to left.
2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 127
Later churches are presumed to have acted as
public or parish churches, and the samples from
these churches arise from a variety of farms of different
social status and location in the landscape.
Accordingly, we cannot discuss diet in relation to
provenance and social position on the basis of our
samples from these later churches. A few characteristic
samples, however, give rise to considerations
about origin. For instance, the 20–25-year-old female
(V51#4) (Fig.3) who was buried in the Sandnes
churchyard in the late 1300s could very well come
from the low-status farm at nearby Niaquusat. More
than 80% of her diet had come from the sea, and this
proportion corresponds well with the amount of seal
bones collected from the late-phase midden located
in front of the farmhouse there (Fig. 8; McGovern
Graves inside churches indicate high status, and
at first, the three samples from the episcopal residence
(Figs. 1 and 3, Ø47#20, Ø47#21, Ø47#22—
all relatively terrestrial) from the north chapel
were considered to come from high-status people.
The bishop (Ø47 #22), of course, had the required
not find physical anthropological evidence for social
differences. Although not at all statistically signifi-
cant, but relevant for the general discussion on diet
and social differences, a 25- to 30-year-old female in
one of the north-side graves, displaying evident traces
of having used her teeth as a tool, had subsisted on
the same protein diet as one of the presumed highstatus
young males in the common grave on the south
side of the church. The example does not, however,
really provide an answer to the question of dietary
social differences. The woman may not have been
buried on the north side of the churchyard because
she was a servant but because she was a woman. Or
being a servant, and having lived under the same roof
as her master, her diet may have come from the same
sources, although perhaps from different parts of the
animal. Tjodhilde´s church at Brattahlid served a
family group including servants/slaves and tenants,
and the diversity seen in the samples may reflect this
extended household, where some of its members,
slaves or tenants, formed separate households with
diets reflecting either their social status and/or the
location of their home.
Figure 7. Composite graph showing the Norse Greenland δ13C values (for the three settlement periods, conf. text) compared
to values from Iceland (Sveinbjörndóttir et al. 2010); Giecz, Poland (Linderholm et al. 2008:451); Birka, Sweden (Reitsema
et al. 2010:1417); Ridanas, Gotland (Kosiba et al. 2007:404); Fishergate, York (Müldner & Richard 2007 :166); Wetwang
Slack, East Yorkshire (Jay and Richards 2006); Beringsfield, Oxfordshire (Privat and O’Connell 2002:785); Newark Bay,
Orkney, Viking Age and Medieval Age (Barrett and Richards 2004:261). Vertical lines denote span between lowest and
highest value; black crossbars denote mean values (when given in the publication).
128 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
sity within the chronological groups can partly be
explained by social and/or geographic differences.
Among the domesticates, the zooarchaeological
record shows that cattle were kept primarily for their
secondary products of milk and cheese. This finding
is in accordance with traditional Scandinavian
dietary habits where milk was turned into long-life
and storable dairy products.
Sheep and goats were kept for both their secondary
products (wool and milk) and their meat (McGovern
1985:102f.). Pigs, which in traditional Scandinavian
societies were popular high-status source of meat,
are represented in the animal-bone record only for
the first centuries of settlement. Characteristically,
most of the bones are from high-status farms such
as Gardar (Ø47). Pigs seem to disappear around
A.D. 1300 (McGovern et al. 2009:216). Apart from
pigs, cattle were also prestigious, and there was a
correlation between cattle, good pastures, and highstatus
farms (Arneborg et al. 2012a [this volume]).
In Greenland, on medium- and small-sized farms,
goats and sheep replaced cattle over time (McGovern
1985). However, the very fact that even small
sites with very limited pastures, for instance coastal
Niaquusat (V48), had cattle shows the importance
the Norse Greenlanders placed on dairy products.
The zooarchaeological record also shows that
seal was the prime meat supplier for the Norse
Greenlandic households (McGovern 1985). Fish
dignity to be buried in a chapel. The two other samples
(a male aged 30–35, Ø47#20 and an 18/20–30-
-year-old female, Ø47#21) are more problematic
(discussed in Arneborg et al. 2012a [this volume]),
and we cannot conclude with certainty that they represent
high-status people. Consequently, neither can
we say whether the two relatively terrestrial Gardar
samples reflect chronology, geography, or social
status. However, we do note that the differences
in diet within the Norse Greenlandic society were
particularly pronounced in the period from settlement
to about A.D. 1300, and seemingly decreased
thereafter (as apparent from the span in δ13C values;
Fig. 7), although a possible effect of sampling bias
should be taken into consideration (Fig. 6).
Norse Diet: Subsistence and Economy
Based on the human samples, our isotope study
shows that the basic Norse dietary (subsistence)
economy depended on a combination of animal husbandry
and hunting, especially of marine mammals
to a varying degree and also of reindeer. Through
time, the dependence on hunting, especially of marine
resources, increased. For the first generations of
Greenlanders, the percentage of the marine protein
was between 15 and 50%, increasing to between 50
and 80% in the last settlement period. (Nelson et al.
2012d [this volume]). As discussed above, the diver-
Figure 8. The distribution of animal bones by species from three Western Settlement farms: 1) Niaquusat, a low-status farm
on the coast settled from landnam to about 1350, 2) GUS, The Farm beneath the Sand, a middle-sized inland farm settled from
landnam to about 1400, and 3) the high-status coastal farm Sandnes (Kilaarsarfik) settled from landnam to about 1400.
2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 129
bones are extremely rare, and our study does not
add anything to the discussion concerning whether
the Norse ate fish. Seal bones occur at all farms,
although in relative larger proportions on the medium-
sized and small farms. At the small Western
Settlement coastal site of Niaquusat (V48), seal
remains are dominant during the whole settlement
period from c. A.D. 1000 to c. A.D. 1400, accounting
for more than 80% of all bones in the midden
deposits (McGovern 1985, Møhl 1982). Even here a
tendency towards the increasing importance of seal
can be noted (Fig. 8; McGovern 1985). At the medium-
sized inland Western Settlement farm GUS, the
initial phase (ca. A.D. 1000–1150) is characterized
by 29% of the total bone assemblage deriving from
marine animals. In the final phase (ca. A.D. 1300–
1400), this proportion increased to 44% (Enghoff
2003:90). The proportion of cattle appears to have
been stable, whereas the proportion of seal increased
at the expense of reindeer (Fig. 8). On the coastal
high-status farm Sandnes (V51), the marine element
seems to have remained more or less constant relative
to the numbers of bones from domesticates and
reindeer (Fig. 8; McGovern et al. 1996). In the Eastern
Settlement, the results from the 2005–2006 excavations
at high-status Brattahlid farm Ø29a reveal
the same trends as seen in the Western Settlement.
The number of sea mammals increases through time
at the expense of domesticates (Fig. 9; McGovern
and Pálsdóttir 2007).
Also at the so-called landnam farm (Ø17a) in
Narsaq (McGovern in Vebæk 1993), seal bones are
abundant in the assemblage. As the name indicates,
the excavated house is from the early Norse period;
still, the faunal material reveals the same trend as
that seen at other Norse farms. The proportion of
marine mammals increases from the lower to the
upper layers, and there is a similar increase in the
number of sheep/goat bones compared with cattle
(Fig. 9; McGovern et al. 1993:58 ff.).
Reindeer protein (for a discussion on the identification
and quantification of reindeer protein,
see Nelson and Møhl 2003 and Nelson et al. 2012d
[this volume]) is not traceable in the Eastern Settlement
humans, and this finding is in accordance with
the animal-bone record. Reindeer bones are not at
Figure 9. The distribution of animal bones by species at two Eastern Settlement farms: 1) The so-called landnam farm Ø17a
in Narsaq. This farm is located on the coast and the animal bones are from the first centuries of settlement. 2) Brattahlid
(Qassiarsuk), a high-status coastal farm.
130 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
all frequent in the Eastern Settlement assemblages
(Fig. 9; McGovern 1985). In the 2005–2006 midden
excavations at Brattahlid, “Caribou bones are
present in low but consistent frequency throughout
the phases ...” (McGovern and Pálsdóttir 2007).
The Norwegian priest Ívar Bárðarson mentions
that reindeer hunting at Renø —Reindeer Island—
in the Eastern Settlement was restricted and could
only take place with the permission of the bishop.
We may assume that a small reindeer population
prompted these restrictions and that permission
was given only to the few. In the Western Settlement,
reindeer bones appear in the middens in
larger quantities. At the high-status farm Sandnes,
reindeer played a substantial role in the diet, and
the same is the case at the medium-sized GUS farm
(Fig. 8). Most of the bones were from the meatbearing
part of the animal, and the importance of
reindeer decreased slightly through time (McGovern
et al. 1996:111f.). At the medium-sized inland
farm GUS, between 13 and 28% of all mammal
bones were of reindeer, showing a decrease through
time (Fig. 8; Enghoff 2003:41). Even at the small
farm at Niaquusat, reindeer is present, although to a
much lesser extent (Fig. 8; McGovern 1985:115f.).
As may have been the case in the Eastern Settlement,
McGovern et al. (1996:112) suggest that
reindeer meat was mainly restricted to the elite. In
general, the Western Settlement individuals who
were analyzed had obtained less than 25% of their
protein from reindeer (Nelson et al. 2012d [this volume]),
and it is not possible, on this basis, to draw
any conclusions concerning social differences.
On the whole, Norse subsistence strategies were
faithful to those which the initial settlers brought
with them from their homelands in Scandinavia
and in Iceland. Traditionally, the Norse subsistence
economy depended on a combination of dairy
products and meat, both from their livestock,
supplemented with hunting of both sea mammals
and terrestrial animals (e.g., Kaland and Martens
2000, McGovern 2000, McGovern et al. 2009). In
Greenland, the central Eastern Settlement temperate
region—at least in the initial settlement period—
offered the best conditions for the traditional Norse
pastoral economy, whereas the Low Arctic conditions
in the southern part of the Eastern Settlement
and in the Western Settlement very probably gave
rise to a more marine-based economy.
The human samples from the early period (most
of them are from the central Eastern Settlement
region) may reflect the fact that the Greenland immigrants
in the initial settlement period tried to establish
what McGovern (2000:331) calls “the homeland’s
ideal farmyard” with relatively large numbers
of cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats and a less significant
dependence on the marine resources. Constantly,
they had to adjust to their new environment and to
natural and man-made changes.
One of the goals of the study was to examine
whether the shift in the Norse diet reflects altered
farming strategies. Norse animal husbandry strategies
were based on grass. The isotope signals in
the livestock do not reveal any significant differences
between the farming strategies of Eastern and
the Western Settlements, and there are no signs of
changes through time (Nelson et al. 2012c [this volume]).
The carbon isotope values show that “hungerfeeding”
(i.e., feeding with, for instance, fish and/or
seal refuse), known from Iceland in modern times
(e.g., Bruun 1928:273, Hooker 1813:348), was not
the case at any time in Norse Greenland (Nelson et
al. 2012c [this volume]).
Compared to the other samples, cattle and goats
from the small Western Settlement farm V48 at Niaquusat
have relative high δ15N values, and manuring
of the pasture and/or the hayfield appears to be
an obvious explanation for this (discussed in Nelson
et al. 2012c [this volume]). This may not necessarily
have been deliberate manuring. The Niaquusat
site is surrounded by mountains and is too small to
have had regular pastures. Winter fodder must have
been collected in the immediate vicinity of the farm
buildings, and cattle and goats must have grazed the
midden where household and stable waste accumulated
over the years. In contrast, the Niaquusat sheep
do not show the same raised δ15N values, perhaps
because they grazed mountain pastures away from
the farmhouses, reflecting the fact that cattle and
goats were kept primarily for their milk and were
kept close to the houses for daily milking, whereas
sheep were kept primarily for the wool and meat and
grazed on more distant pastures.
Bones of pigs have been found at only a few sites
and they are restricted to the early settlement period
(McGovern 1985:86). Their isotope data indicate that
the pigs were fed on a marine diet, most probably fish
and seal offal (Nelson el al. 2012c [this volume]).
In Iceland, pig remains are mostly limited to the
first centuries following the landnam (Ólafsson et
al. 2006:397ff.), whereas in the Faeroes there seems
to have been substantial pig keeping well into the
13th century (McGovern et al. 2004). In Iceland and
the Faroes, pigs were fed on terrestrial foodstuffs
(T. McGovern, Hunter College, CUNY, New York,
NY, USA and S. Arge, Føroya Fornminnissavn, Tórshavn,
Faroe Islands, personal comm.), and reduction
in available woods or marshland is one of the
explanations offered for the decrease in pig keeping,
especially in Iceland (McGovern et al. 2009:216)
The same explanation cannot apply to Norse Green2012
J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 131
fodder was grown in fertilized infields. The manure
was composed of cattle dung, whereas dung from
sheep was used as fuel. Besides the infields, many
farms also obtained hay from meadows and bogs
that were never fertilized. The best hay came from
the manured infields and was given to the cattle (see
also: Adalsteinsson 1991:291). Evidently, manuring
practices in Norse Greenland still need to be looked
into, and until then, the interpretation of the raised
δ15N values from Niaquusat must be viewed with
Norse Greenland Dietary Economy:
The results of this isotope study support those of
the first limited study: the diet of the Norse Greenlanders
became more dependent on marine resources
over time. The changes seem to have happened
gradually, beginning during the initial settlement.
The swiftness depended, however, on where the immigrants
settled. Settlers in the southern part of the
Eastern Settlement, and in the Western Settlement,
may have adapted to the marine resources more
rapidly than those in the central Eastern Settlement
region. In the first centuries of settlement, the dietary
differences within the society were pronounced,
perhaps indicating that access to terrestrial food was
restricted and only an option for the well-off part of
Despite the changes in the dietary economy and
the increasing dependence on the marine resources,
we see no attempts to prevent or discourage this development.
Farming strategies remained unchanged.
Qualitative changes such as “hunger-feeding” the
domesticated animals were never the case. Instead,
the Norse farmers presumably reduced the number
of domesticates and replaced the resource-demanding
cattle with the less-demanding sheep and goats.
Climate change and unsustainable land-use practices
have been proposed as the main reasons for the
depopulation of the Norse Greenland settlements in
the late 1400s, and it is obvious to draw attention to
these factors when trying to explain the changes in
the dietary economy. It is more doubtful, after all,
whether the changes in the Norse dietary economy
directly caused the depopulation of the Norse Greenland
settlement. The Norse Greenlanders apparently
adapted well to their physical environment, and they
could survive on the marine resources as long as
Culturally and socio-economically there may,
however, have been barriers that were difficult to
cross. The old saying “you are what you eat” may
not hold the whole truth after all. Humans are more
than this, and in order to explain the depopulation of
the Norse Greenland settlements, ideology, percepland
where pigs were fed on marine foodstuffs and
most probably were penned. Another explanation for
the declining number of pigs in Greenland could be
the workload connected with pig keeping.
As described above, the δ15N values for cattle
and goats from Niaquusat differ from those of the
other cattle and goats sampled. If we accept that the
raised nitrogen values, especially for the Niaquusat
samples, are due to deliberately/non-deliberately
manured pastures and hayfields, we also have to
conclude that, in general, the results of the isotope
study show the Norse did not manure their pastures,
since no other samples from domesticates show
the same elevated values. This conclusion supports
the ideas of Simpson et al. (2002:440) who, on the
basis of geoarchaeological studies, have not found
any traces of Norse manuring practices in the Qassiarsuk
– Brattahlid region. Simpson and Adderley
(2007:44) point out that intensive fertilization of
arable land requires large numbers of domestic
livestock in order to generate the manure, as well as
labor to compost it and transport it to the fields. The
Norse Greenlanders may have been short of both
manpower and stalled domestic livestock to produce
the required manure. Instead, they had to rely on
natural soil fertility and productivity
In contrast to the geoarchaeological study, Commisso
and Nelson (2006, 2007, 2010) argue that
raised nitrogen values in modern plants growing on
the Norse sites indicate deliberate Norse fertilization
of the infields in the Middle Ages. Manuring
also seems to have been practised at the bishop’s
see Gardar (Buckland et al. 2009). Also at GUS, in
the Western Settlement, there are indications of fertilized
fields (Schweger 1998:16), and a new study
of ancient DNA in soil samples indicates that waste
from byres and stables was spread over the adjacent
fields (Hebsgård et al. 2009). At GUS, the anthropogenic
layer thins out with distance from the farm
building, and the question is whether we are talking
about disposal of waste or deliberate fertilizing as
part of a land management strategy—or perhaps
In the North Atlantic, fertilizing as part of a
land management strategy is bound up with the
infield-outfield system and with fenced infields.
The practice is seen in Western Norway by the
Early Iron Age and should be perceived in a mixed
farming context, including agriculture and animal
husbandry. Inside the fence, in the infield, the land
was cultivated for cereals. The outfield was pasture
(Øye 2005:362). The infield-outfield system, including
the fenced infield, was an integral part of the
cultural package the immigrants brought with them
to the North Atlantic islands from Norway. When
Daniel Bruun (1928:264ff) travelled around Iceland
in the late 1800s, he described how grass for winter
132 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3
Hooker, W.J. 1813. Journal of a tour in Iceland in the
summer of 1809. Vol. I. Harvard University, London,
UK. 503 pp.
Jay, M., and M.P. Richards. 2006. Diet in the Iron Age
cemetery population at Wetwang Slack, East Yorkshire,
UK: Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope evidence.
Journal of Archaeological Science. 33(5):653–662.
Jørkov, M.L.S., J. Heinemeier, and N. Lynnerup. 2009.
The Petrous Bone: A new sampling site for identifying
early dietary patterns in stable isotopic studies. American
Journal of Physical Anthropology 138:199–209.
Kalland, S.H.H., and I. Martens. 2000. Farming and
daily life. Pp. 42–54, In W.W. Fitzhugh and E.I. Ward
(Eds.). Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian
Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA. 432 pp.
Kosiba, S.B., R.H. Tykot, and D. Carlsson. 2007. Stable
isotopes as indicators of change in the food procurement
and food preference of Viking Age and Early
Christian populations on Gotland (Sweden). Journal of
Anthropological Archaeology 26:394–411
Linderholm, A., C. Hedenstierna Jonson, O. Svensk, and K.
Lidén. 2008. Diet and status in Birka: Stable isotopes
and grave goods compared. Antiquity 82:446–461.
Lynnerup, N. 1998. The Greenland Norse: A Biologicalanthropological
study. Meddelelser om Grønland,
Man and Society 24. Copenhagen, Denmark. 149 pp.
McGovern, T.H. 1985. Contributions to the paleoeconomy
of Norse Greenland. Acta Archaeologica 54-1983:73–
McGovern, T.H. 2000. The demise of Norse Greenland.
Pp. 327–339, In W.W. Fitzhugh and E.I. Ward (Eds.)
Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, DC, USA. 432 pp.
McGovern, T.H., T. Amorosi, S. Perdikaris, and J. Woollett.
1996. Zooarchaeology of Sandnes V51: Economic
change at a chieftain’s farm in West Greenland. Arctic
McGovern, T.H., and A. Pálsdóttir. 2007. Bone remains.
Pp. 22–36, In R. Edvardsson (Ed.) Archaeological Excavations
at Qassiarsuk 2005–2006. 109 pp. Available
online at http://www.nabohome.org/publications/fieldreports/
10 February 2012.
McGovern, T.H., C. Amundsen, S. Perdikaris, R. Harrison,
and Y. Krivogorskaya. 2004. An Interim report
of a Viking-age and Medieval archaeofauna from
Undir Junkarinsfløtti, Sandoy, Faroe Islands. Norsec
Zooarchaeology Laboratories Report No 13. CUNY
Doctoral Program in Anthropology, Brooklyn College
Zooarchaeology Laboratory, Hunter College Bioarchaeology
Laboratory, New York, NY, USA.
McGovern, T.H., S. Perdikaris, I. Mainland, P. Ascough,
V. Ewens, Á. Einarsson, J. Sidell, G. Hambrecht, and
R. Harrison. 2009. The archaeofauna. Pp. 168–252,
In G. Lucas (Ed.). Hofstaðir. Institute of Archaeology
Monograph Series–1. Reykjavík, Iceland. 440 pp.
Müldner, G., and M.P. Richards. 2007. Stable isotope
evidence for 1500 Years of human diet at the City of
York, UK. American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Møhl, J. 1982. Ressourceudnyttelse fra norrøne og eskimoiske
affaldslag belyst gennem knoglematerialet.
tion, interactions between economies (subsistence
and exchange economy), and cultural contacts
(Norse-Europe and Norse-Inuit) also have to be
taken into consideration.
Adalsteinsson, S. 1991. Importance of sheep in early Icelandic
agriculture. Acta Archaeologica 61-1990:285–
Alexandersen, V., and F. Prætorius, 2003. Hvad tænder
kan fortælle om de første nordboere. Aktuel Arkæologi
Arneborg, J., 1991. The Roman Church in Norse Greenland.
Acta Archaeologica 61-1990:142–150.
Arneborg, J., J. Heinemeier, N. Lynnerup, H.L. Nielsen,
N. Rud, and Á.E. Sveinbjörndóttir. 1999. Change of
diet of the Greenland Vikings determined from stable
carbon isotope analysis and 14C dating of their bones.
Arneborg, J., N. Lynnerup, J. Heinemeier, J. Møhl, N.
Rud, and Á.E. Sveinbjörnsdóttir. 2012a [this volume].
Norse Greenland dietary economy ca. AD 980–ca. AD
145: Introduction. Journal of the North Atlantic Special
Balslev Jørgensen, J. 2001. Nordbogravene ved Brattahlid.
Barret, J.H., and M.P. Richards. 2005. Identity, gender,
religion and economy: New isotope and radiocarbon
evidence for marine resource intensification in Early
Historic Orkney, Scotland, UK. European Journal of
Bruun, D. 1928. Fortidsminder og Nutidshjem paa Island.
Gyldendalske Boghandel, København, Denmark. 416
Buckland, P.C., K.J. Edwards, E. Panagiotakopulu, and
J.E. Schofield 2009. Palaeocological and historical evidence
for manuring and irrigation at Garðar (Igaliku),
Norse Eastern Settlement, Greenland. The Holocene
Commisso, R.G., and D.E. Nelson 2006. Modern plant
δ15 N values reflect ancient human activity. Journal of
Archaeological Science 33:1167–1176.
Commisso, R.G., and D.E. Nelson 2007. Patterns of plant
δ15 N values on a Greenland Norse farm. Journal of
Archaeological Science 34:440–450.
Enghoff, I.B. 2003. Hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry
at The Farm Beneath The Sand, Western Settlement.
Meddelelser om Grønland, Man and Society
28. Copenhagen, Denmark. 104 pp.
Fricke, H.C., J.P. O’Neil, and N. Lynnerup. 1995. Oxygen
isotope composition of medieval human tooth enamel
from the medieval Greenland: Linking climate and
society. Geology 23:869–72.
Gulløv, H.C. 2012. Archaelogical commentary on the isotopic
sudy of the Greenland Thule culture. Journal of
the North Atlantic Special Volume 3:65–76.
Hebsgaard, M.B., J. Arneborg, M. Thomas, P. Gilbert,
P. Heyn, M.E. Allentoft, M. Bunce, K. Munch, R.
Nielsen, C. Schweger, and E. Willerslev 2009. “The
Farm Beneath the Sand” An archaeological case study
on ancient “dirt” DNA. Antiquity 83:430–444.
2012 J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, and J. Heinemeier 133
Vebæk, C.L. 1992. Vatnahverfi: An inland district of the
Eastern Settlement in Greenland. Meddelelser om
Grønland, Man and Society Vol.17. Copenhagen,
Denmark. 132 pp.
Vebæk, C.L. 1993. Narsaq: A Norse landnáma farm.
Meddelelser om Grønland, Man and Society Vol. 18.
Copenhagen, Denmark. 85 pp.
Øye, I. 2005. Farming and farming systems in Norse
societies of the North Atlantic. Pp. 359–370, In A.
Mortensen and S.V. Arge (Eds.). Viking and Norse in
the North Atlantic. Select Papers from the Proceedings
of the Fourteenth Viking Congress, Tórshavn, 19–30
July 2001. Annales Societatis Scientiarum Færoensis
Supplementum XLIV. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.
1The archaeological excavations took place in 2002 and
2003 under the direction of Jette Arneborg.
2According to one radiocarbon date from lower culture
layers at Ø149, the settlement here dates to around A.D.
1000 (K-5573: A.D. 1025 (1010-1150)) (Vebæk 1991:73).
Nelson, D.E., and J. Møhl 2003. Radiocarbon dating
Caribou antler and bone. Are they different? Arctic
Nelson, E., J. Møhl, J. Heinemeier, and J. Arneborg. 2012a
[this volume]. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic
measurements of the wild animals hunted by the Norse
and the Neo-Eskimo people of Greenland. Journal of
the North Atlantic Special Volume 3:40–50.
Nelson, E., N. Lynnerup, and J. Arneborg. 2012b [this
volume]. A first dietary study of the Greenlandic Thule
Culture. Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume
Nelson, E., J. Heinemeier, J. Møhl, and J. Arneborg. 2012c
[this volume]. Isotopic analysis of the domestic animals
of Norse Greenland. Journal of the North Atlantic
Special Volume 3:77–92.
Nelson, E., J. Heinemeier, N. Lynnerup, J. Arneborg, and
Á.E. Sveinbjörnsdóttir. 2012d [this volume]. An isotopic
analysis of the diet of the Greenland Norse. Journal
of the North Atlantic Special Volume 3:93–118.
Ólafsson, G., T.H. McGovern, and K.P.Smith. 2006. Outlaws
of Surtshellir Cave: The underground economy
of Viking Age Iceland. Pp. 395–405, In J. Arneborg
and B. Grønnow (Eds.). Dynamics of Northern Societies.
Publications from the National Museum–Studies
in Archaeology and History. Vol. 10. Copenhagen,
Denmark. 415 pp.
Privat, K.L., and T.C. O’Connell. 2002. Stable isotope
analysis of human and faunal remains from the Anglo-
Saxon cemetery at Berinsfield, Oxfordshire: Dietary
and social implications. Journal of Archaeological
Reitsema, L.J., D.E. Crews, and M. Polcyn. 2010. Preliminary
evidence for medieval Polish diet from carbon
and nitrogen stable isotopes. Journal of Archaeological
Schweger, C. 1998. Geoarchaeology of the GUS site: A
preliminary framework. Pp. 14–18, In J. Arneborg and
H.C. Gulløv (Eds.). Man, Culture, and Environment in
Ancient Greenland. The Danish National Museum and
Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. 212 pp.
Simpson, I.A., W.P. Adderley, G. Guðmundsson, M.
Hallsdóttir, M.Á. Sigurgeirsson, and M. Snæsdóttir.
2002. Soil limitations to agrarian land production in
premodern Iceland. Human Ecology 30(4):423–443.
Simpson, I., and W.P. Adderley. 2007. Geoarchaeological
investigation at Qassiarsuk (Brattahlið) Greenland.
In R. Edvardsson (Ed.) Archaeological Excavations
at Qassiarsuk 2005–2006. Available online at http://
pdf. Accessed 10 February
Sveinbjörnsdóttir Á.E., J. Heinemeier, J. Arneborg, N.
Lynnerup, G. Olafsson, and G. Zoëga. 2010. Dietary
reconstruction and reservoir correction of 14C dates
on bones from pagan and early Christian graves in
Iceland. Radiocarbon 52(2–3):682–696.
Vebæk, C.L. 1991. The Church topography of the Eastern
Settlement and the excavation of the Benedictine convent
at Narsarsuaq in the Uunartoq Fjord. Meddelelser
om Grønland, Man and Society Vol. 14. Copenhagen,
Denmark. 81 pp.