Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
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.
Butzlaff, Lynn and Butzlaff, Lynn, "Deforestation and Tree Kinship in Medieval Iceland" (2022). Honors Theses. 282.
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