A very curious larder – Insects from post-medieval Skálholt, Iceland, and their implications for interpreting activity areas

Hrönn Konráðsdóttir, Eva Panagiotakopulu, Gavin Lucas

Rannsóknarafurð: Framlag til fræðitímaritsGreinritrýni

1 Tilvitnun (Scopus)


Fossil insect assemblages from post-medieval Skálholt, the oldest episcopal see in Iceland, provide new information about indoor environments and the specific use of a structure which according to historical information was listed as a larder attached to the episcopal school. The assemblages recovered also provide information on the background fauna which comprises of species related to turves, used for building construction and indicating storage of peat. In addition to the introduced Sitophilus granarius, the granary weevil, a new pest, Callosobruchus maculatus which is a pan-tropical and subtropical field and storage pest of legumes, and a rarely introduced species in Iceland even today, were also recovered from the site. In view of the nature of the assemblages, these were probably accidental introductions into the room, perhaps in faeces. The historical record provides information about the life history and events at Skálholt and data about school supplies including imports of stored products to Iceland during this period. In addition, the high numbers of sheep keds, Melophagus ovinus, combined with high numbers of human lice, Pediculus humanus, point to the washing of wool and clothing in urine to get rid of ectoparasites. Intra-site comparisons and a review of all Icelandic archaeological sites suggest a clear correlation between the presence of ectoparasites and wool preparation and cleaning. The results from Skálholt clearly show that rooms and specific spaces in post-medieval buildings could have multiple functions, not only the one assigned to them in the historical record.

Upprunalegt tungumálEnska
Númer greinar105319
FræðitímaritJournal of Archaeological Science
ÚtgáfustaðaÚtgefið - feb. 2021


Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Institute of Archaeology in Reykjav?k for their support. A special thanks to Mj?ll Sn?sd?ttir for assistance with written sources and to Orri V?steinsson, Gu?mundur ?lafsson, Hildur Gestsd?ttir, Lilja Bj?rk P?lsd?ttir and Paul Buckland for discussions and their helpful comments. Many thanks are due to Erling ?lafsson, for providing information on the modern records of Callosobruchus maculatus from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History database. Anastasios Panayiotakopoulos is thanked for his help with maps and diagrams. We would also like to thank Lilja ?rnard?ttir and Margr?t Hallgr?msd?ttir at the National Museum of Iceland. Thanks to the editor Marcos Martin?n-Torres for his constructive comments during the reviewing process.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


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