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The first settlers of Iceland: an isotopic approach to colonisation

The first settlers of Iceland: an isotopic approach to colonisation

By T. Douglas Price and Hildur Gestsdottir

Antiquity, Vol. 80 (2006)

Abstract: The colonisation of the North Atlantic from the eighth century AD was the earliest expansion of European populations to the west. Norse and Celtic voyagers are recorded as reaching and settling in Iceland, Greenland and easternmost North America between c. AD 750 and 1000, but the date of these events and the homeland of the colonists are subjects of some debate. In this project, the birthplaces of 90 early burials from Iceland were sought using strontium isotope analysis. At least nine, and probably thirteen, of these individuals can be distinguished as migrants to Iceland from other places. In addition, there are clear differences to be seen in the diets of the local Icelandic peoples, ranging from largely terrestrial to largely marine consumption.

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