Tag Archives | Iceland

Viking families traveled together, research shows

Frank Douwes CC BY 2.0

Frank Douwes (CC BY 2.0)

via Phys.org:

(Phys.org)—A new study shows that when Vikings moved to new territories, men and women traveled together. Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo and her colleagues compared ancient Norse and Icelandic mitochondrial DNA with mitochondrial DNA of modern Northwestern Europeans. They found similarities between the ancient and modern DNA suggesting women played a significant role in Viking migrations. The research appears in The Royal Society Philosophical Transactions B.

Vikings traveled long distances, establishing colonies in Iceland and many parts of Northwestern Europe. They even traveled as far as North America. It’s a commonly held belief that Viking expeditions consisted entirely of men, and that a shortage of women at home compelled Viking men to seek out women in foreign lands. Earlier genetic studies have suggested that while Viking men ventured forth to pillage and plunder, women and children stayed home.

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Yule Lads Rival Santa In Iceland

Yule lads in Dimmuborgir.JPG

“Yule lads in Dimmuborgir” by lusinemarg (CC)

Remember the infamous Necropants housed in Iceland’s Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft? Well just in time for Christmas comes this tale from the National Museum of Iceland of the Yule Lads, descended from trolls and a whole lot scarier than Santa Claus. They visit the museum on the 13 days before Christmas, starting today, December 12th:

The Icelandic Yule Lads bear little similarity to the world-famous Santa Claus, who is descended from St. Nicholas, patron saint of children and sailors. In contrast, the Icelandic Yule Lads are descended from trolls and their original role was to strike fear in the hearts of children. As it happens, they are the sons of two of the most hideous ogres ever known in Iceland, Grýla and Leppalúði.

No doubt most children would have wanted to avoid the Icelandic Yule Lads in the old days, since they were used by parents to frighten their children into behaving – just as Grýla and Leppalúði are today.

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The UN says this country is smoking the most marijuana

No, it’s not the Netherlands or even Jamaica.

Pollinated hemp flowers. By Erik Fenderson, 2006-01-01.

Pollinated hemp flowers. By Erik Fenderson, 2006-01-01.

via AlterNet:

The people of Iceland are the happiest on Earth, according to an academic study reported by the Guardian in 2006. The UN’s latest Human Development Index ranking showed Iceland topping the charts as far as its economic and social issues go (wealth, healthcare, and education). Last month Iceland won another top world ranking: most pot smoked per capita.

The recent United Nations 2014 World Drug Report, which broke down pot use by nation, found that 18 percent of Iceland’s population (meaning 55,000 out of 320,000 people) lit up in 2012 (the year for which the data was collected). That’s more than the average in stereotypically pot-friendly Jamaica; it’s more than Amsterdam’s home country, the Netherlands; and it’s more than the US. (The UN report found 15% pot use in the US.)

In past reports New Zealand topped the list for most cannabis use per capita, closely followed by Canada and the US, as Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), notes.

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Artist Surgically Removes Own Skin to Make a Ring Out of It

Pic: Sruli Recht (C)

Pic: Sruli Recht (C)

Fresh on the heels of that post about engagement rings being a huge scam comes the story of an Icelandic artist who surgically removed some of his own skin in order to make this unique, hairy ring. It’s for sale, if you must have it: Only €350,000. Not sure if an engagement ring made of your own skin is a scam, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to make one yourself, in any case. The artist, Sruli Recht, makes a lot of other interesting stuff. I suggest you check out his site.

Via Beautiful/Decay:

For your consideration: a $500,000 ring mounted with a tanned sliver of hairy human skin. The piece, titled the Forget Me Knot ring, is the creation of boundary-pushing Icelandic fashion and jewelry designer Sruli Recht. For these one-of-a-kind works of art, Recht had a 110 by 10 millimeter a strip of his skin surgically removed from his abdomen; the artist then salted it, tanned it, and embedded it on a gold ring.

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World’s First Magma-Enhanced Geothermal System Created in Iceland

Pic: Ivan Vtorov (CC)

Pic: Ivan Vtorov (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

In 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla, northeast Iceland, as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), unexpectedly penetrated into magma (molten rock) at only 2100 meters depth, with a temperature of 900-1000 C. The borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells being drilled by the IDDP in Iceland in the search for high-temperature geothermal resources.

The January 2014 issue of the international journal Geothermics is dedicated to scientific and engineering results arising from that unusual occurrence. This issue is edited by Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, who also co-authored three of the research papers in the special issue with Icelandic colleagues.

“Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii,” Elders said.

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Iceland’s Elves Must Be Accounted For In Environmental Impact Survey

 

Icleandic elf houses. Photo: Christian Bickel (CC)

Icleandic elf houses. Photo: Christian Bickel (CC)

Sharon Hill of Doubtful News brings us the latest update on Iceland’s Serious Elf Business.

The Huldufolk must be consulted at least as a cultural tradition in Iceland.

Iceland’s hidden elves delay road projects.

Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from to the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.

The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project.

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The Horrifying Necropants Of Iceland

necropantsThe Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft houses the only known intact pair of necropants, a beyond-disturbing item popularly used for purposes of traditional magic in seventeenth century Iceland. To make your own (and thus reap good fortune), strike a deal with a friend than whoever dies first will allow the other wear the lower half of their corpse as a pair of pants, day and night:

If you want to make your own necropants (literally; nábrók) you have to get permission from a living man to use his skin after his death.

After he has been buried you must dig up his body and flay the skin of the corpse in one piece from the waist down. As soon as you step into the pants they will stick to your own skin.

A coin must be stolen from a poor widow and placed in the scrotum along with the magical sign, nábrókarstafur, written on a piece of paper.

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The Icelandic Elf School Of Álfaskólinn

Looking to go back to school? Atlas Obscura on Álfaskólinn, an institution in Iceland specializing in the study of elves:

Some Icelanders take their belief in elves very seriously — road crews in Iceland will sometimes hire folklore experts to determine if certain boulders are homes to elves, and will divert the road around the boulder if it turns out there are little people living within it.

There’s an entire school dedicated learning about these hidden people. Located in the thoroughly modern city of Reykjavik, the school has a full curriculum of study about the 13 types of elves in Iceland. This concentration comes with a set of published textbooks with drawn depictions of these creatures for reference.

The school studies Iceland’s other supernatural flora as well, such as fairies, trolls, dwarves and gnomes, but they mainly focus on elves, because they are the most commonly believed in and “seen”.

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Mayor Of Reykjavík Dons Balaclava And Dress In Support Of Pussy Riot

Has the "Pussy Riot ski mask" supplanted the Trayvon hoodie as the political protest fashion piece of the moment? Somehow I'm unable to envision NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg doing this. Reports the Iceland Review:
Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr dressed as members of the Russian girl punk band Pussy Riot, who are currently on trial in Moscow for public protest, in this year’s Gay Pride parade. A banner with the words “Free Pussy Riot” hung from his float. The Gay Pride parade is considered by many to be an opportunity for the general public and visitors to both show solidarity with the gay community and come together in celebration and support of human rights for all.
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Iceland Jails Bankers, Erases Citizens’ Debt, Recovers Strongly

 Seriously, the most advanced place on Earth. Bloomberg writes:

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger.

Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population.

The island’s steps to resurrect itself since 2008, when its banks defaulted on $85 billion, are proving effective. Iceland’s economy will this year outgrow the euro area and the developed world on average, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.

Iceland’s approach to dealing with the meltdown has put the needs of its population ahead of the markets at every turn. Once it became clear back in October 2008 that the island’s banks were beyond saving, the government stepped in, ring-fenced the domestic accounts, and left international creditors in the lurch.

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