The Conversations

Each episode covers a different topic which is relevant to Viking Age environments and has some reading suggestions if you want to learn more about the topic. All our guests are experts in their fields and we hope you enjoy listening to these as much as we enjoyed making them.

Episode 1: Cities, Towns and People

In Episode 1, Rebecca talks to Annalee Newitz about their new book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age. Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate. Here, listen to Rebecca and Annalee talk about what it is that makes urban life urban, and just how Viking Dublin is different from other urban places.

Annalee Newitz is an American journalist, editor and author of both fiction and non-fiction. In Four Lost Cities, Annalee takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today. Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers—slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers—who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.

Four Lost Cities is published by W.M. Norton: https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393652666

Episode 2: Volcanoes, Floods and Landscapes

In Episode 2, Rebecca talks to Ingar Mørkestøl Gundersen about how modern flooding in Norway’s Gudbrandsdalen valley led him to consider the effects of big climatic events in the lead-up to the Viking Age.

Ingar Mørkestøl Gundersen

Ingar Mørkestøl Gundersen is an archaeologist with the Cultural History Museum in Oslo. He graduated from the University of Oslo with a major in archeology in 2007 before going to work as a field archaeologist in Norway, England, Russia, Greece and Sweden. Ingar is completing his PhD thesis entitled Years without summers. AD 536: Crisis or adaptation in conjunction with the Museum and the University of Oslo. His interests lie in the junctures between rescue archaeology, extreme weather events (floods and volcanoes), the effects of climate cooling and the nature of societal vulnerability to these events.

Read Ingar’s research paper on the 6th century crisis here.

Gundersen, Ingar Mørkestøl (2019). The Fimbulwinter theory and the 6th century crisis in the light of Norwegian archeology: Towards a human-environmental approach. Primitive times . ISSN 1501-0430.  21 , pp. 101- 119. DOI: 10.5617 / pt.7538

Episode 3: Greenland’s Changing Climates

In Episode 3, Rebecca talks to Rowan Jackson at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh about his work on how the Norse adapted their way of Scandinavian way of living to the harsh climate of Greenland. We talk about the hows and whys of these lifestyle choices, before discussing the successes and failures of the Vikings in Greenland. Moving on from this, we talk more generally about Rowan’s work on global change research and climate change archaeology.

Rowan Jackson is University Teacher in Environmental Sustainability on the Environmental Sustainability MSc programme and Post-doctoral Research Associated on an AHRC funded project studying the impacts of climate change and natural hazards on cultural heritage in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. His research focuses on cultural path dependence and limits to adaptation in Norse Greenland and environmental change in the wider North Atlantic. He also focuses on the relevance and application of archaeological and historical information to contemporary social and environmental challenges. In the last two years, he has focused on value and risk to cultural heritage sites in low- and middle-income countries.

Read Rowan’s research here.

Jackson, R., Arneborg, J., Dugmore, A. et al. Disequilibrium, Adaptation, and the Norse Settlement of Greenland. Hum Ecol 46, 665–684 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-018-0020-0

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