Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Northern World, AD 900-1400 - new book examines the arctic region in the Middle Ages

Idaho State University anthropology Research Professor Herbert Maschner has co-edited the book The Northern World, AD 900-1400, released in December 2009.

The Northern World, AD 900-1400 examines rapid and catastrophic climate changes and social networks in the region of the Arctic from the Bering Straits to Greenland from A.D. 900 through 1400. Maschner and his colleagues acknowledge scientists see the region of the Arctic as a critical modern laboratory for investigating the long-term impact of global warming. The cultures and lives of indigenous people during this time span are examined to understand historical and modern climate and social impacts.

The book details the medieval period as a time of dynamic and variable change in Arctic climates. It challenges preconceived notions that the people indigenous to the northern world were geographically and socially isolated. It explores two great human migrations that occurred in the period, between The Medieval Climate Anomaly (an unusually warm period) to the Little Ice Age, which saw remarkable human and species adaptation to climates. Archeological records reveal the adaptation of both human and species in the continuum of such harsh environments.

Further, the book discusses the indigenous peoples’ remarkable adaptation to climate and social systems of the time. It argues the period was highly active in warfare and hunting, the rise and fall of widespread cultures and the appearance of hemispheric trade networks.

Maschner’s co-editors include Owen K. Mason and Robert McGhee. Mason is editor of Alaska Journal of Anthropology and board member of the Alaska Anthropological Association. He is currently a research affiliate with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado.

McGhee is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Arctic Institute of North America. He has been awarded the Massey Medal by the Royal Canadian Museum of Civilization.