Opening Day

View down the fjord from University of Akureyri

ICASS VII began this morning with a keynote address by the great Icelandic anthropologist Gísli Pálsson. Among his many interesting points related to the historical anthropology of the construction of Icelandic identity, was perhaps the most interesting note that recent DNA mapping by Agnar Helgason and his student Sigrídur Ebenesersdóttir has located the presence of markers that suggest the introduction of the DNA of a native American woman around the year 1000. This would mean that Norse explorers of Vinland brought at least one native American woman back to Iceland and her DNA survives in the blood of 80 Icelanders alive today. If true, it would rewrite the story of the Norse exploration of North America as a two-way exchange of culture and biology.

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