Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Alex Novikoff

Second Advisor

Sarah Star


This project investigates the effect of deforestation on medieval Icelandic perceptions of tree-human relationships and the fundamental cultural paradox of a colonizing society who considered trees and humans as kin. To do so, this project combines a variety of interdisciplinary sources, from archaeological and archaeobotanical studies to legal and literary sources, and forms a multifaceted approach to both physical and metaphorical wood in the medieval Icelandic world. I first analyze the use of native and non-native wood by medieval Icelanders, and explore the impetus for widespread deforestation. I then explore the impact which deforestation had on concepts of tree sentience and human-tree kinship. Finally, I investigate the gradual separation between humans and trees in Old Icelandic literature which occurred contemporaneously to when the impacts of deforestation were beginning to noticeably change the Icelandic landscape.

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