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Combining disciplines to better understand the population in medieval Trondheim, Norway

Combining disciplines to better understand the population in medieval Trondheim, Norway

Paper by Stian Suppersberger Hamre

Given at the 2017 meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, on August 31-September 3, 2017

Abstract: Skeletal material is an excellent starting point for investigating, and developing a better understanding of, past populations. Information gathered through traditional anthropological methods is, however, unsatisfactory, and even the inclusion of modern methodologies like isotope analyses and genetics leave significant holes in the picture of the studied populations. A full understanding of past populations is probably not possible, but the only way to really broaden our knowledge is to combine information from as many different disciplines as possible. Concentrating on thematic research and being less contained within one’s own discipline make it possible to get closer to the people of the past.

Recent investigations based on the skeletal remains from Trondheim, Norway, have tried to make use of this broad multidisciplinary approach to improve the understanding of immigration, mobility, and population composition in this town on the outskirts of medieval Europe. The combination of anthropological examinations, stable oxygen isotope analyses, genetic information, facial reconstructions, archaeological, and historical data have provided new information about the medieval population in Trondheim.

The emerging picture is one of a heterogenous population, diverse in most respects, and with clear similarities to modern day urban populations. This paper will present some of the methodology and results of the above-mentioned investigations.

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