Supporting Data for: The impact of the 6th century crisis – exploring burials as a proxy for population dynamics in Iron Age Scandinavia


Database of 6,771 dated Iron Age burials from South Norway

This study examines population dynamics in South Norway during the Iron Age, focusing on the mid-6th century crisis and its aftermath. Analysis of nearly 7,000 dated burials reveals a substantial decline of over 75 per cent post-6th century compared with the preceding period. Set against other archaeological data, this indicates a decline in the population of South Norway. The period of societal turmoil and decline may have started earlier, but was likely catalysed by the volcanic eruptions of 536 and 540 CE and the following colder period, and possible also by plague pandemics. The ramifications of the mid-6th century crisis were exacerbated by the population increase in the preceding periods, where the population may have been nearing its regional carrying capacity. Although devastating, the 6th century crisis may also have opened up new possibilities for those who made it through, perhaps initiating a brief period of relative social and economic equality, similar to the initial consequences of the Black Death. Contrasting with the 6th century, South Norway’s Viking Age saw ample burials, attributed to factors including a warmer climate, advanced agriculture, surplus production, trade expansion and increased slavery. The shift highlights complex interactions between environmental, economic and social factors in the shaping of population dynamics in Iron Age South Norway.

Metadata Access
Creator Loftsgarden, Kjetil ORCID logo; Iversen, Frode
Publisher DataverseNO
Contributor Kjetil Loftsgarden; Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo; University of Oslo
Publication Year 2024
Funding Reference The Norwegian Research Council (NRC)/University of Oslo Toppforsk project VIKINGS grant no. 275191
Rights CC0 1.0; info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess;
OpenAccess true
Contact Kjetil Loftsgarden (University of Oslo)
Resource Type Archeological data; Dataset
Format text/plain; text/comma-separated-values
Size 6576; 120229659
Version 1.0
Discipline Ancient Cultures; Archaeology; Humanities
Spatial Coverage (4.440W, 57.700S, 12.240E, 62.370N)