40 Years Later: the Vikings in North America, with Kevin Smith

It has been 63 years since the first Viking Age site in North America was discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, and 40 years since the two most comprehensive reviews of evidence for the Vikings in North America were published. In this talk, archaeologist Kevin Smith brings together recent work to view the interactions between North America’s Indigenous people and the Vikings as a three-act play spanning not just a few years but nearly five centuries and to address the question, “did it really matter?” Click here for a 106-minute presentation by Smith on November 16, 2023.

Kevin Smith (above, left) is an archaeologist interested in complex societies, state formation, colonization, and cultural reformulation in the North and North Atlantic. Much of his research has been focused on Iceland where he is especially interested in the processes that led to the creation of a short-lived, independent Icelandic state in the mid-13th century and the earlier role of Icelandic elites in ritual and the creation of mythic ontologies.

Today, as a result of work done by a small army of specialists working in the field, in labs, and in archives we know much more about the archaeology of the North Atlantic islands during the Viking Age and about the first documented contacts between Native Americans and Europeans in Northeastern and Arctic North America.

Smith’s research has focused for the past 37 year, on Iceland and the North Atlantic where he is interested in understanding the processes by which the North Atlantic region was settled, how its societies formed, how the challenges of settling new lands changed those societies’ worldviews, and understanding the dynamic processes that eventually led to the creation of a short-lived independent Icelandic state and its rapid absorption into the expanding Norwegian state.