We’re thinking over what is most exciting about working in the archives. For Ágústa, it’s finding what she’s looking for. That might seem rather plain or obvious, but in the beginning of an archive stint, it can feel like you’re hoping to encounter something and you can imagine it, but it may just never have been created or preserved.
As it turns out, the best dispatchers of ptarmigan were the family at Geiteyarströnd. In the cold winters of 1917 and 1918 eggs were collected by the hundreds and sold to the cooperatives, and farmers frequently risked falling through the Spring ice to bring trout up from Mývatn, holding their bait, maggots, warm and wriggling in their mouths.
Along the way, you also feel that you get know the people who are documenting and being documented. There may be the farm inspector with meticulous handwriting, or the tenant who always has debts on hist store accounts. You can also see when a son takes over an occupation from his father over some decades. People’s reccurring family names become familiar, and you can easily meet their grandchildren in Mývatnssveit today. For me, that is the most enjoyable part about reading the documents from Skútustaðir; that I can get to know the people, by name, who actually contributed the archaeological remains, and learn about their quotidienne tasks, seasonal work and special occasions. To see the group of farmers who lived at Skútustaðir materialize through words is equally exciting as digging a trench through their midden.
We had a great visit with Arni Einarsson at the Mývatn Science station yesterday during which he shared his collection of 19th and 20th centruy fishing nets used in Mývatnssveit. We’re looking forward to working with the Kid’s archaeology poject later today with Baldur and Pétur from Litlulaugarskoli and having dinner with the team of archaeologists working at Þegjandadalur: Howell, Lílja and Dawn.
~Megan and Ágústa
We are archaeologists at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Human Ecodynamics Research Center (HERC). Follow us as we head into the field to work at four sites in the North Atlantic. Living and working at each site presents its own challenges and we hope to offer stories of how archaeology gets done rather than just present the results of our research. click to read more
Tagsambassador to Iceland Archaeologists archaeology artifact BBQ climate change Commercial fishing CUNY Deturfing erosion field food fishing booth fishing structures Gardar Glacier Greenland Iceland KAPI Land Rover medieval medieval booth Outreach public education Quiz Reykjavik road food Settlement Farm site tour Sunset time lapse tours trench trip VIP