Jesse Byock teaches Viking history and archaeology, early Icelandic society, medieval feuds, and Old Norse saga literature. The saga literature is a key source of social-historical and legal information about northern European medieval culture and the major source of mythical and heroic lore. His new book Viking Language teaches Old Norse, runes, and Icelandic sagas and is available Winter 2012.
An archaeologist, Professor Byock directs the Mosfell Archaeological Project and is a Professor at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology focusing on Viking Archaeology. He has published widely on the society, archaeology, literature, and history of medieval Scandinavia with writings translated into numerous languages.
The Mosfell Archaeological Project is an interdisciplinary research project employing the tools of history, archaeology, anthropology, forensics, environmental sciences, and saga studies. The work is constructing a picture of human habitation and environmental change in the region of Mosfell in southwestern Iceland. The Mosfell Valley (Mosfellsdalur), the surrounding highlands, and the lowland coastal areas are a valley system, that is, as an interlocking series of natural and man-made pieces, that beginning in the ninth-century settlement or landnám period, developed into a functioning Viking Age Icelandic community. Focusing on this valley system, the task is to unearth the prehistory and early history of the region; to gather the data that provides an in-depth understanding of how this countryside or sveit evolved from its earliest origins. The Mosfell Archaeological Project has implications for the larger study of Viking Age and later medieval Iceland, as well as perhaps for the north Atlantic world.
UCLA Scandinavian Section