Doktorsnám í fornleifafræði er fjögurra ára rannsóknatengt framhaldsnám. Námið er 240 einingar til prófgráðunnar philosophiae doctor, Ph.D. Umfang rannsóknaverkefnis skal vera 180 e. Nám til doktorsprófs lýtur sérstökum doktorsnámsreglum Hugvísindadeildar. Inntökuskilyrði er rannsóknatengt MA- eða MS-próf á viðkomandi fræðasviði með fyrstu einkunn eða, eftir atvikum, sambærilegt próf í annarri tengdri grein.

 Markmið doktorsnáms í fornleifafræði er að veita doktorsnemum sem besta og víðtækasta vísindalega þjálfun og undirbúning undir vísindastörf á fræðasviði sínu, t.d. háskólakennslu eða sérfræðistörf hjá rannsóknastofnun. Nauðsynlegt er að þessi þjálfun taki mið af bakgrunni hvers nemanda og því fræðasviði sem hann vill sérhæfa sig á.

Doktorsnám í fornleifafræði við Háskóla Íslands er hluti af norrænum rannsóknarháskóla, Dialogues with the Past, sem býður upp á námskeið fyrir doktorsnema, sjá nánar:æði er smátt fag innan Háskólans, þrátt fyrir það er mikil ásókn í doktorsnámið.  Í dag eru 12 manneskjur skráðar til náms og vinna að fjölbreyttum verkefnum sem vert er að kynna nánar.

Oscar Rolen Aldred Alan Lawrence Laycock Angelos Parigoris

Hildur Gestsdóttir Janis Karen Mitchell
Kristján Mímisson Magdalena M. E. Schmid Nikola Trbojevic
Rúnar Leifsson Sólveig Guðmundsdóttir Beck Vala Garðarsdóttir


Oscar Rolen Aldred Oscar Rolen Aldred My thesis is called ‘An archaeology of movement‘ and focuses on examining the relations between past movement and landscape and critically assessing landscape archaeology. The main research aim questions the dominating static representations of past landscapes in contemporary archaeology and argues the need to re-present more dynamic representations of the past that are evident in landscape’s materiality and in our archaeological practices. Another aim is to draw attention to the inadequate way that past movement has been studied by archaeologists by offering new thinking related to two archaeological case studies. The case studies are: the gathering and sorting of sheep in Mývatnssveit during the 19th and early-20th century, and cairn building and paths of movement around Vatnsfjörður from a long-term perspective.  The two case studies use several different practical/theoretical perspectives and argue why examining these two aims is relevant for contemporary archaeology, and in particular, in advancing the study of past movement. However, while landscapes are presented as having considerably more fluidity, the case studies also identify the important role that immobile structural forces have in anchoring or gravitating mobility – such as sites that have had a continual presence through time in the landscape. How immobility has overshadowed mobility is remedied by attending to their relationship symmetrically. Thus, these two contradictory forces of mobility, characterised by moving bodies, and immobile structures, of movement systems, are two (ontologically ‘flat’) components in the shaping of landscape’s materiality and in our attending practices that are used to understand the past. These practical/theoretical approaches lead towards the scrutinizing of the relationships between landscape change on the one hand, and movement on the other.  The thesis concludes by examining these relationships in light of the case studies and from landscape’s connectivities by drawing on several contemporary approaches in archaeology, anthropology and geography that have begun (but not finished the job!) to suture the gap between theory and practice, and between humans and nonhumans. The thesis concludes by offering new theoretical knowledge on the relationship between past movement and landscape, and the practice (and theory) of conducting landscape archaeology.


Alan Lawrence Laycock My research aims are to: contextualise medieval Icelandic emporia sites within the larger framework of North and Baltic Sea emporia research; gain a better understanding of the morphology of these sites; study their potential interconnectedness; and to research emporia relationships to their hinterlands and political structures.


Angelos Parigoris N/A


Hildur Gestsdóttir N/A


Janis Karen Mitchell

The focus of research for my PhD project is how people were buried during the Viking Age in the North Atlantic settlement regions of Iceland, the Northern and Western Isles and mainland Scotland. The aim of this study is to enable consideration of the selection procedures for objects placed in graves within the different regions of settlement during the Viking Age as evidenced in the archaeological burial record. Artefacts from burial provide a source of material evidence of how a society treated their dead and in particular what choices were made for inclusion of grave goods in burial practice.


The main research questions include what the nature of grave goods from the region of study were (in relation to types of objects selected for burial and how objects placed in burial relate to the known range of objects found in other contexts) and what variability in grave goods is apparent (in relation to regional, chronological, age/sex/gender and placement differences or similarities). These general questions are asked with the intent of linking them to more specific interpretive themes, particularly cultural, social and personal identity and the perception of death. Do variations in object choice convey differences in death for various members of society; whether regional, family or individual? Or is there evidence of a wider ‘one’ group of Viking dead for the North Atlantic settlement regions?


In order to undertake this research I am in the process of compiling a database inventory of the burials for the Viking North Atlantic settlement regions of Iceland and Scotland. It is from this source that the objects undergoing analysis have been selected. Object biographies will be included as a dynamic means to show different possible interpretations of the material and bring these objects to life through story.



Kristján Mímisson I am currently in the final stages of my PhD-thesis. The thesis (working title: Life in Stones: the material biography of a 17th century peasant from the southern highlands of Iceland) deals in a broad perspective with the conceptualization of biography. It rests upon a fieldwork that I carried out between 2005-2009 at the site of Búðarárbakki at the periphery of the southern highlands of Iceland. There I excavated a peasant farm which is documented in the Icelandic Land Register from 1703. The Register states that a peasant, named Þorkell, built the farm and lived there for a decade sometimes after the mid 17th century. He is described as a quirky, old man that due to mere restlessness lived at 27 different places during his lifetime. The last four dwelling places of his life are listed in the Register, namely, Tungufell in the district of Biskupstungur, then Búðarártunga, Búðarárbakki and Skógarkot all in the district Hrunamannahreppur. The written record of the Land Register is sparse, yet it is aa interesting illustration, depicting some characteristics and personal traits of the peasant. Moreover, it links a particular person with certain place names, records his relocations, correspondingly creating an intriguing web of relationships. Although not particularly mentioned in the Land Register, it implies that Þorkell farmed at Búðarárbakki, consequently indicating a whole year dwelling at the site as well as implying a distinctive social identity of the peasant. The results of the archaeological excavations, however, contradict this image. The excavations at Búðarárbakki certainly revealed a tiny peasant farm that dates, in accordance with the information of the Land Register, to the late 17th century. The stratigraphy shows that the farm was abandoned shortly (a decade or so) before the volcanic eruption in Hekla in 1693. At the time of the eruption, the ruins of Búðarárbakki were in their early stage of decomposition, demonstrated by the volcanic tephra that superimposes the fallen roof construction, yet is underlying other collapsed structures. The farmhouse shows a typical layout of small farms that are known to us from the 16th century up until the late 19th century. However, the farm at Búðarárbakki lacks a hearth which would have been imperative as a heating source to a whole year settlement at the site. The artifact assemblage is as well extraordinary. It is dominated by a number of stone hammers that are fist sized boulders with a perforated holes for a shaft. All the artifacts are production failures or unfinished examples. These objects, which were almost all embedded into the farmhouse structures, constitute along with a high number of small iron chisels and a few core fragments from the perfomation of the hammer stones, an interesting picture of a specialized craftmanship. Other artifacts belong to a standard household material but nothing can be related in particular to farming activities. Thus, the results of the excavation indicate a seasonal settlement where a single person attended his specialized craftmanship, producing commodities for trade. The biographical approach applied to this research project dismisses the idea of biography as a complete (or partial) narrative of a life-cycle bridging the period from birth to death. Biography is viewed as an inherent constituent of life itself, as the process of linking, relating and merging human and non-human actorial roles. Archaeological remains, both structures and objects, do not stand in for life-cycles or represent the residues of lives now long gone, but are essential components of the relationality of life itself. The are the lasting material presences of a particular web of life that is interwoven by manifold actants, both human and non-human. Such an approach to the category of biography reveals its multi-temporality. A biography refers equally to the past, present and future, not simply in terms of the things past, the socio-politics of the present discourse or the future relevance of research, but in terms of how each particular life course is at every point in time spread amongst diverse actants (human and non-human) that relate to various temporalities. Viewing the human embodied subject as just one facet of the person, simply one node among many in the biographical network, epitomizes how biography does not halt upon the death of the singular human subject, the introversive “I”, but how biography pursues, mainly in its thingly presences.


Magdalena M. E. Schmid N/A


Nikola Trbojevic The Impact of Settlement on Woodland Resources in Viking Age Iceland The process of settlement in Iceland in the late 9th and early 10thcenturies was followed by an enormous rate of woodland clearance which resulted in significant and long-term consequences for the island’s fragile environment.The exploitation of woodlands, whether for fuel, building material or clearance to open up new arable land and pasture, was a process which however did not have a constant and uniform impact, but a more complex one that underwent changes throughout the settlement period. My research is focused on clarifying this environmental impact which is today recognized as one of the most significant changes that the natural environment has sustained in Iceland.The principal aim of the project is to explain, by relying mostly on the extant archaeological research and through the use of Agent-Based Modelling, the process of deforestation and to determine whether deliberate strategy or the unintended consequences of other activities played the greater part in the deforestation process.This research project will also clarify for what particular requirements of the settlement population and at which locations deforestation first started, what the rate of exploitation was, what part each of the requirements of the settlement population played in the overall process of deforestation and what is particularly important for understanding the settlement economy and its impact on vegetation – how the needs, interests, aims and concerns of tenants and large land-owners overlapped and affected the state of the woodlands during this period. Finally, the results of the study will contribute not only to the interpretation of the environmental impact of the settlement period, but also to the interpretation of the development of the settlement society.


Rúnar Leifsson

Evolving Traditions: Horse Slaughter and Burial Customs in Viking Age Iceland

 A characteristic of Icelandic Viking Age burials is the common occurrence of ritually killed horses deposited into the graves, both with humans and without. In the thesis this curious tradition is explored. How was the ritual killing practiced, what sort of animals were chosen and why, where and when did the tradition originate, how did it develop in the settlement society of Iceland and what sort of society does this reflect. It is possible to get remarkably close to these ancient customs by bringing results from zooarchaeological analysis of the animal remains found on the Viking burial grounds into context with other archaeological and historical data. The objective is to gain a new perspective on the Viking Age society of Iceland. This entails an investigation on how materially detectable traditions are selected or dismissed, developed or fixed, and how they are used to negotiate identity and status in the formation of a new society.


Sólveig Guðmundsdóttir Beck N/A


Vala Garðarsdóttir

Landnám og þróun byggðar í Reykjavík

Í miðbæ Reykjavíkur hafa farið fram töluvert margar rannsóknir á fornleifum frá fyrstu tíð. Sú rannsóknarsaga hófst á 4. áratug síðustu aldar. Af þeim fornleifarannsóknum sem þar hafa farið fram er helst að nefna uppgröft undir stjórn Elsu Nordahl við Suðurgötu 3-5, Tjarnargötu 4 og Aðalstræti 16 á árunum 1971-76, rannsókn Þorkels Grímssonar og Þorleifs Einarssonar í Kvosinni, þar sem teknir voru jarðvegskjarnar og prufuskurðir árið 1962, uppgröft við Aðalstræti 16-18 sem unnin var af Fornleifastofnun Íslands á árunum 2001-2004, rannsókn Kristínar Huldar Sigurðardóttur við Suðurgötu 7 árið 1983, og rannsóknir Bjarna F. Einarssonar við Aðalstræti 12 árin 1993 og 1999. Hafa þessar rannsóknir allar leitt í ljós að landnám í Reykjavík eigi sér langa sögu, allt aftur til sjöunda áratugs 9. aldar. Sumarið 2008 hófst svo uppgröftur á Alþingisreitnum sem varpað getur enn frekara ljósi á upphaf landnáms í Reykjavík og þróun byggðar þar. Uppgreftrinum er ólokið og enn liggja þar töluvert af fornleifum frá fyrstu tíð en markmiðið er að ljúka rannsókn á þeim á næstu árum.


Doktorsverkefnið miðar að því að taka saman í eina heild þær rannsóknir sem fram hafa farið á minjum í miðbæ Reykjavíkur í þeim tilgangi að greina landnám á staðnum og þróun byggðar frá landnámsöld til miðalda. Með því að tengja rannsóknirnar allar saman verður í fyrsta sinn gerð tilraun til þess að ná fram heilstæðri mynd af þeirri mannvist sem fundist hefur í Kvosinni til þessa.