Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

John M. Steinberg

Second Advisor

Douglas J. Bolender

Third Advisor

Dennis Piechota


Discerning and explaining social and economic differences is a fundamental task of archaeology, but a fine-tuned measure of household wealth is often obfuscated by the inability to account for time or demographics in the archaeological record. This project tests the ways that Iceland, settled by Norse populations between A.D. 870 and 930, provides a temporally-sensitive mode of measuring household income through average rates of deposition of architectural material and fuel refuse while also providing a context for studying the emergence of inequality in a previously uninhabited landscape. In 2014, a deep-coring survey of 11 occupational sites was conducted in the region of Langholt in Skagafjörður, Northern Iceland to supplement shallow-coring data previously collected by the Skagafjörður Archaeological Settlement Survey. Volumetric estimates of sites were generated in ArcGIS. Site occupation duration before A.D. 1104 was used to calculate average accumulation rates. I argue that average accumulation rates can be used as a proxy for household income and thus wealth over time. There is a strong logarithmic relationship between the average accumulation rates and occupation duration of sites, suggesting that the settlement order impacted wealth advantages. I argue that the concept of precedence, or the correlation of settlement order and wealth advantages over time, can be used to help understand the long-term dynamics of inequality in Langholt as both an economic and social process.