Skip to comments.Viking sagas read through the lens of climate change
Posted on 03/10/2005 8:19:28 AM PST by Squawk 8888
Ancient Icelandic sagas may be full of treachery, death and destruction, but the real villain behind all the foment could well have been climate change. According to a Canadian scientist, there's a direct link between changes in regional temperatures and the thematic content of the sagas.
The research is based on newly reconstructed temperature records gained from ocean sediment cores collected off the coast of Vestfirdir, the northwest peninsula of Iceland by scientists from the University of Colorado. Analysis of mollusc shells within these cores has provided an astounding, almost weekly, record of temperature changes in the region.
"The difficult social periods in the sagas and other histories correspond to periods when cooler winters were coupled with what were some of the coldest summers of the last 2,000 years," says Dr. William Patterson, an associate professor of geology at the University of Saskatchewan who is leading the research linking seasonal climate change and Norse sagas.
The new temperature record was gleaned from microscopically thin layers cut from the mollusc's growth rings, each layer representing a few days in the animal's submarine life. The layers were powdered and the oxygen and carbon isotope values measured to create a record of environmental stresses, that were primarily due to temperature, on the Icelanders.
The results of the research, funded by NSERC and the U.S. National Science Foundation, show that in Iceland during what's known as the Little Ice Age from about 1350 A.D. to 1850 A.D., there was an increase in what is termed "seasonality," with cooler winters, colder summers and increased temperature variability. On the other hand, temperatures were highest at 80 B.C., 850 A.D. (during Viking settlement), and during the 1740s.
These changes had a profound impact on early Icelanders, and they continue to have an impact today. A one-degree drop in average summer temperatures can result in a 15-per cent drop in crop yields.
"The sensitivity of these people living in this marginal environment is readily apparent when you reconstruct the temperature variation," says Dr. Patterson. "Prior to this research we could speculate that temperature was a cause, but now we can say there's a good correlation between summer temperatures and the social situation."
Dr. Patterson says the Norse sagas provide numerous points for climatological analysis and comparison. One of the early sagas (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) provides clues to the climate of Norway and Iceland from 850 to 1000 A.D. Other sagas such as Edda depict the Ragnarok, a pagan tale of the twilight of the ancient gods, that starts with the fimbulvinter (mighty winter) in which much is destroyed during a period of many years without summer, heroes and even families turn against and kill each other, and the world is ruined. Though Edda was written in the 1200s by Snorri Sturluson, it is thought to represent a previous cold period in northern Europe about 2,800 years ago. Other less stylized records from the Middle Ages and later are easier to interpret in terms of the climate-society connection, says Dr. Patterson.
The findings are part of a larger research project that will document changes in North Atlantic temperatures over the past 16,000 years. This type of information is critical for the validation of existing climate change models.
Weekly global warning alert....
Immanuel Velikovsky, "Earth in Upheaval" (1956) or
The Romans should be blamed for that 80B.C. global warming!! Those imperialists and their SUV sized chariots.
Isn't this Bush's fault?
At the very least the Romans should be held accountable for the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. That must've bumped global temperatures up by at least a thousandth of a degree.
They have made up for it in modern times by mass-producing cars that don't run. FIAT = Fix It Again, Tony.
bttt - almost-forgotten footnotes regarding Velikovsky:
In the '50's & '60's, Velikovsky was derisively written off as a charlatan by the scientific community. Non other than Carl Sagan made it his business to drum him out of the self-anointed community of "knowers" that human science too often becomes. Velikovsky's thoughts about catastrophic upheavals on the earth - whether terrestrial or extra in origin - were assigned to the bookshelves next to the "...egyptians in their flying craft..." tomes. Back then, "Science" scoffed at the earth having had anything outside of a benign evolution.
Now, of course, we have this neat meme that expresses when the shit hits the fan on a global scale - Catastrophism. Funny... it seems all one's gotta do is put an "ism" on the end of a word, and it becomes legit, eh?
But I digress - we now have this somber-all-the-smart-geeks-solemnly-nod-their-heads accepted scientific "fact" called Catastrophism - yet the father of the discipline - Velikovsky - gains no recognition.
It's as if Stalin and his removal of opponents from State portraits were employed against those the self-anointed do not accept.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest -- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
The 79AD incident was recorderd in tree rings worldwide as a cooling event.
Well, of course. Ice giants. Global Warming(TM).
I'll bet Earth in the Balance is called a saga in some far off far off.
Why? What's this got to do with a dead parrot?
He's not dead!!
Actually, I was thinking of the Spam sketch...
'e sure is! Jus' look at 'im! ;-)
Oh, OK. :-)
He's just resting.
The global warming movement is a neo-pagan farce based on selective science, fixed computer models, and an anti-capitalist and anti-human freedom political agenda. The warming trend has been going on in fits and starts for about ten thousand years (end of the last in a series of ice ages) and will continue until the cycle (again) reverses itself.
It's stone dead.
No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!
The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.
No, no -- it's just resting.
(owner hits the cage)
There, he moved!
No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!
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Note: this topic is from 3/10/2005.Thanks Squawk 8888. I just added this to the Catastrophism catalog, and am going to ping it out of sheer stubbornness.
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The Little Ice Age:
How Climate Made History 1300-1850
by Brian M. Fagan
Floods, Famines, and Emperors:
El Nino and the Fate of Civilizations
by Brian M. Fagan
The Long Summer:
How Climate Changed Civilization
by Brian M. Fagan
“Ere, E’s just pining for the Fjords.”
Thanks for the ping. I think it was back in 1100 A.D.(?) or so when the Vikings abandoned Iceland(?). They were farmers by that time, and Christian. When the farms died off because of the cooling, the native Eskimos tried to get the Vikings to join in their hunts. But the Vikings wouldn’t join because of all the pre-hunt rituals to the pagan gods. The Vikings died off and/or left.
At least that is one theory I saw on TV. Sounds plausible.
I’m going to have to check to see if I can get any of those books on a library loan.
I’ve read all six of the books the library has about as many times as I can stand.
Greenland, not Iceland. Greenland was still Viking into the 13th c, the cold got worse, and more importantly, the ships stopped coming from Europe. No trees on Greenland to build boats. The population was trapped. One possibility raised in the 1980s (hmm, maybe 1970s) was that German corsairs arrived there and carried off the entire remaining colony.
The library in my town burned down.
Destroyed both books.
One wasn’t even colored yet.
[old joke alert, comes too late to prevent the joke]
Thanks for the corrections. The other one I always get messed up on is “Was Greenland really frozen in the old days, and Iceland was green as the Vikings were trying to be tricky, or vice-versa?”
And Eric the RED discovered Greenland — IOW, I think they just did that to piss us off.
But there were plenty of trees to the west and Newfoundland was closer than Iceland. I think they abandoned Greenland and were ultimately absorbed by the native populations in North America.
There was a thread a month or so ago on native (Alquonqin?) (spelling?) languages that have (or is interpreted to have) Old Norse names and pronounciations. I imagine that was Sunk’s doing as well!
Eric the Red - Greenland. And then made it to North America. Thank goodness!
Otherwise we may never have gotten the Red Green Show from Canada!