Soils and Sediments in the Settlement and Harbour at Kaupang

Karen Beatrice Milek, C. A. I. French

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Soils and sediments from the settlement and harbour areas at Kaupang were sampled and analysed in order to enhance the understanding of site stratigraphy, and to help solve a range of interpretive problems encountered during the excavation. The samples were taken from the main research excavation of 2000–2002, the cultural resource management (CRM) trench of 2000 (close to the main research excavation) and the harbour excavation of 2003. They were analysed using a broad suite of geochemical techniques as well as the micromorphological analysis of thin sections, but this paper focuses primarily on the results of micromorphological analysis, which provided the most useful information about the original composition and mode of formation of the sediments prior to their alteration by post-depositional processes.
Immature, gleyed soils were identified below the archaeological sediments on the site, indicating the presence of a young, but stable land-surface prior to the establishment of the urban settlement. The study of sediments associated with the initial, seasonal settlement showed that in the area of the CRM trench, this phase was characterised by around seven short-term activity events. On plots 3A and 3B, micromorphology samples taken from transects through the main axes of the buildings helped to delimit and characterise the occupation surfaces and the different activity areas within them. A study of the sediments in the pathway between plots 1A and 2A, and the sediments in the midden area east of plot 1A, provided information about their composition and possible origin, and the environmental conditions under which they had accumulated.
Finally, the sediment sequence in the harbour area was examined in order to determine the composition of the different layers and their depositional environments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKaupang in Skiringssal
EditorsDagfinn Skre
Place of PublicationAahrus
PublisherAarhus University Press
Number of pages39
ISBN (Print)8779342590
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Viking Age
  • trading centre
  • Norway
  • Soil micromorphology
  • Space
  • Floors
  • Activity Areas
  • Geoarchaeology


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