Sunday, 26 February 2012

Norse settlement may help us adapt to global changes

limate scientists have been examining the past environments and archaeological remains of Norse Greenland, Iceland and North Atlantic Islands for several years. They have been particularly interested in the end period of the settlements in the early part of the Little Ice Age (1300-1870 CE) and have been able to analyse how well the Norse responded to changes in  economy, trade, politics and technology, against a backdrop of changing climate.

They found that Norse societies fared best by keeping their options open when managing their long-term sustainability, adapting their trade links, turning their backs on some economic options and acquiring food from a variety of wild and farmed sources. Researchers say their findings could help inform decisions on how modern society responds to global challenges but also warns of inherent instabilities that do not directly link to climate.

In the middle ages, people in Iceland embraced economic changes sweeping Europe, developed trading in fish and wool and endured hard times to build a flourishing sustainable society. In Greenland, however, medieval communities maintained traditional Viking trade in prestige goods such as walrus ivory.

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