Jarðabókin:

sögulegur landfræðigrunnur um íslenska landnotkun

the Icelandic historical geographic information system

Jarðabókin/Storied lines

Welcome to the homepage of Jarðabókin. The project aims to make available the most detailed historical documents describing the way land was used in late medieval to early modern Iceland, roughly 1500-1860. The central document is the early 18th century land census Jarðabók Árna Magnússonar og Páls Vídalín, widely regarded as one of the most important documents ever produced about Icelandic agriculture. In spite of that, it has not been available online – until now. The map to the left shows every main farm (is. lögbýli) recorded in the land census, with the full description of each farm available by clicking on the appropriate point.

The database contains a large amount of categorical and quantitative data which is currently only partly accessible through the web map. In addition, several networks of interaction show the interconnectedness of farms at the time. These connecting lines are sometimes reciprocal, sometimes a manifestation of material and political inequality, but all of them indicate the entangled character of Iceland’s agricultural communities. A recent publication by Gísli Pálsson, accessible here, goes into these networks in some detail, with more to come.

The project is led by Gísli Pálsson, with development help from Roger Mähler and Johan von Boer. Philip Buckland, Elín Ósk Hreiðarsdóttir, Adolf Friðriksson, Orri Vésteinsson and Árni Daníel Júlíusson are editorial advisors. The project is part of Ísleif, the Icelandic archaeological survey database, and is supported by Fornleifastofnun Íslands, Umea University, Humlab, DataArc and The North Atlantic Biocultural Organization.

The census took place between 1702-1714 and was published between 1913-1943 by Hið Íslenska Fræðafjelag í Kaupmannahöfn. Sögufélag currently hold the rights to the text, and have generously allowed full public access to the primary text through this website. Sögufélag was established on March 7th, 1902. The society aims to publish journals and academic texts on a range of historical subjects, with a focus on the history of Iceland. The journal Saga has been published since 1949 and is the leading journal for historical scholarship in Iceland.








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    • Publications

      A good half-dozen papers based on the Jarðabók project will be published in 2019. For now, Pálsson's article in Norwegian Archaeology Review introduces the data and the network approach taken to it.

      Pálsson, G. 2018. Storied lines: network perspectives on land use in early modern Iceland. (Open access; need a ResearchGate account to download).

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