Viking migration left a lasting legacy on Ireland's population | 3/19/2018 | Staff
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The early medieval period in Ireland (400-1200AD) was a time of key importance. It was a turning point in European history and the origin of much contemporary Irish culture and identity. Ireland, the early medieval "land of saints and scholars," had much cultural and economic growth during the 5th and 6th centuries. Elsewhere in Europe there were unstable populations in the wake of the fall of Rome.

Until now it was assumed that this Irish Golden Age was followed by stability and consolidation, and a steadily increasing population, despite disruption caused by Viking raids throughout the 9th century. Irish society at this time was also in a state of flux. The Vikings eventually established a network of towns that stood apart from the rural "native" Irish world.

Analysis - Record - Set - Conclusions - Study

A new analysis of the archaeological record, however, reaches a set of rather different conclusions. In our study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, we found that the Irish population had actually been in a serious decline for almost two centuries before the Vikings arrived. Our research reveals how ancient migrations of Vikings left a lasting legacy in the modern population.

Archaeological work in Ireland, using cutting-edge techniques borrowed from data science, can reconstruct past population levels. It is now possible to obtain fresh perspectives by integrating large volumes of archaeological "big data," and reveal patterns that were previously hidden. Thousands of productive excavations have taken place in Ireland in recent decades, thanks to a boom in building and motorway construction projects, and samples of organic tissue have been collected by archaeologists before the bulldozers get to work.

Database - Radiocarbon - Dates - Activity - Ireland

We used a database of some 10,000 radiocarbon dates of human activity in Ireland that has accumulated since the technique was pioneered in the 1940s. Each one of these "dates" was once a living thing—a fragment of wood,...
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