E035 - The Mysterious Disappearance of the Norse Greenlanders

This week Rich and I tell you about the mysterious disappearance of the Norse Greenlanders!

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What Did You Do This Week:

The Show

1. Greenland is the world's largest island, icy AF etc.

   - Weird Surnames: Greenlandic surnames did not follow the historic family lineage. They followed the Nordic convention of the time. The child’s surname was based up the first name of the father. If the father’s first name was Erik, then the son’s surname would be Eriksson. If Erik had a daughter then her name would be Eriksdottir. This practice continues in Iceland.

   - Thor and the Gods of Pagan Norse, at least until Christianity took hold.

   - The Norse Greenlanders thought they lived on a peninsula of Europe, not the world’s largest island.

2. The mystery begins:

The deserted ruins of Hvalsey Church in Greenland. The wedding of Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdóttir on 16 September 1408 is the last recorded event to take place in Greenland before the Norse mysteriously disappeared from history. [Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

The deserted ruins of Hvalsey Church in Greenland. The wedding of Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdóttir on 16 September 1408 is the last recorded event to take place in Greenland before the Norse mysteriously disappeared from history. [Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

   - A Dano-Norwegain missionary named Hans is worried about his brother Norse in Greenland. Greenlanders that have been cut-off from Europe for hundreds of years. 

   - A man named Kolgrim pays for his forbidden love

   - A fairy-tale wedding and then oblivion.  

 3. Greenland & North America Founded by Wolfheaded Men?

[Photo Credit: cheerup.fun]

[Photo Credit: cheerup.fun]

   - Thorvald (Grandpa)

   - Erik the Red (Dad the Founder)

   - Leif Erikson (Son the Explorer)

                - Bjarni Herjólfsson first... then Leif, then Thorfinnr Karlsefni

          and his wife Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir and let's not forget baby

          Snorri Thorfinnsson

4. Happy Norse Settlements (500 years of life)

The Norse settlements on Greenland. Each red dot represents a Norse site. Each site holds between one and 60 individual ruins. Østerbygden = the Eastern Settlement. Mellembygden is a modern name for what may have been a Middle Settlement, but is better regarded as part of the medieval Eastern Settlement. Vesterbygden = the Western Settlement. Map is Arneborg (2004)

The Norse settlements on Greenland. Each red dot represents a Norse site. Each site holds between one and 60 individual ruins. Østerbygden = the Eastern Settlement. Mellembygden is a modern name for what may have been a Middle Settlement, but is better regarded as part of the medieval Eastern Settlement. Vesterbygden = the Western Settlement. Map is Arneborg (2004)

   - From Pagans to Christians

   - Hunting Disko Bay (900 miles of rowing to kill a walrus (one month), ice choked fjords and too many women and children being buried? Are men begin lost on their voyage?

   - The Thing (Law, Order and much more)

   - Fashion & Culture (Barns full of shit, cattle and flies)

   - Homes of six-foot turf walls, churches with stained glass, months of darkness and chilling isolation.

   - Ivar says The Western Settlement is lost! They're all gone.

   - No more ships from Norway? And no timber to build ships to leave. No iron either... It's getting really cold. I don’t think anyone will get out of here alive.

   - Fossilized Flies in the bedrooms are a dreadful sign of men and women dying alone in the beds with no one to bury them. Prized Norwegian elk hounds butchered and eaten in the family room are another sign post on the path to oblivion.

5. Why the Collapse? According to Jared Diamond:

   -Factor One:  Hostile relations with neighbors.  

   -Factor Two:  Loss of support from “home” or trade partners. 

   -Factor Three:  Environmental Degradation. 

   -Factor Four:  Climate change. 

   -Factor Five:  Faulty social values. 

For an expanded bibliography on Norse Greenland email us through the contact page!

Book of the Week

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

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Justin Carroll