Climate changed "big man" society in Viking Iceland

The change of climate to colder temperatures in 11th century Iceland may have put an end to traditional Viking feasting of beef and beer, say authors Davide Zori and Jesse Byock in a new book Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaelogical Project. (photo of glass beads)

The authors write that the "big man" society of Scandinavia, where social leaders demonstrated their power by throwing huge feasts featuring lots of beef and alcohol, was foiled by the Little ice Age when the drop in temperatures made keeping  herds of cattle and growing barley for beer unsustainable.

The book compares accounts in Viking sagas with archaeological evidence. "By applying anthropology and medieval texts, we can excavate and compare," Zori said.