Stature as a criterion of the nutritional level of Viking Age Icelanders

16th century map of IcelandStature as a criterion of the nutritional level of Viking Age Icelanders

By Jon Steffensen

Thridji Vikingafundur [Third Viking Congress], edited by Kristján Eldjárn Ritsjóri (Reykjavik, 1958)

Introduction: Iceland was settled in the upheavel of teh Viking Age by vikings who came mainly from Norway and the British Isles.  For those who take interest in vikings the Icelanders, therefore, have particular significance, and even more so in view of the fact that they have lived in isolation on an island.  There has consequently been little admixture of foriegn blood since the Viking Age.

My time would not permit me to deal adqequately with the physical anthropology of the nation as a whole, so I have had to narrow my scope and confine my discussion to the stature of the population.

The reason why I chose stature was that it will give us a better idea than all other anthropological characters of the living standards of the nation in past centuries.  It will indicate how the Icelandic branch of the vikings fared in their new country.

The material on which I have based my study is on the one hand bone finds from various parts of the country dating from many different periods, and on the other measurements of Icelanders carried out in the 20th century.

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