For the third episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot interviews two leading archaeologists of the medieval and early modern Arctic: Dr. Thomas McGovern of the City University of New York, and Dr. George Hambrecht of the University of Maryland College Park. Since 1972, Professor McGovern has travelled the world for archaeological fieldwork. He has spent much of his time in the far north, especially in Greenland, Iceland, the Faeroes, and Shetland. He is one of the founders of the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO), and he is associate director of the Human Ecodynamics Research Center at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has an extraordinary record of groundbreaking publications on the history of Arctic peoples, and he has won many awards from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and other leading organizations.
Professor Hambrecht is part of a new generation of interdisciplinary archaeologists of far north. He explores interactions between the political, environmental, and biological dimensions of the transformative early modern period. He is especially interested in historical and zooarchaeology in Iceland, the Subarctic, and the Arctic North Atlantic. He has done extensive fieldwork to reconstruct how Icelandic farmers coped with the onset of the Little Ice Age. He leads teams of interdisciplinary researchers in projects that have recently won support from the National Science Foundation.
In this episode, professors Degroot, McGovern, and Hambrecht discuss the perils of doing fieldwork in the Far North; the struggles of the Norse in Greenland and Iceland at the onset of the Little Ice Age; the threat of climate change to the archaeological record of northern peoples; and the possibilities (and challenges) of interdisciplinary approaches to Arctic research.
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Photo credit: Benoit S. Lecavalier (2014).