Hello again, Blogonauts!
It was chilly and damp, so rather than go swimming, I decided to stay dry.
(For many of you, this may appear to be particularly dry…but I had fun.)
Today is my final day in Iceland, and to integrate what I had learned in the last two weeks, I spent several hours perusing the exhibits in the National Museum. (There are a several photos from the museum in the accompanying album.)
Unlike most of the inhabited parts of the planet, the beginning of human culture in Iceland can be dated with relative accuracy. Scandinavians, some of them Vikings but most of them farmers, began to settle here in the Middle Ages, around the year 870. Studies of DNA, though, have discovered that while the large majority of men came from Nordic lands, about two-thirds of the women came from the British Isles.
Let's just remind ourselves that we don't really know what convinced the women to cross half of the Atlantic to settle in a place even colder than Scotland. However, it was a more barbaric time.
The early settlers (the guys, anyway) brought with them their Norse religions. Thor was an even bigger deal to them than he is in the Marvel universe. And for more than a century these practices, often later referred to as "pagan," flourished.
But even early on Christianity had outposts in Iceland, and it was becoming increasingly fashionable on mainland Europe. So in the year 1000, after the Norwegian king had converted and established Christianity to be the official religion of Norway, he started pressuring the Icelanders to follow suit.
Many resisted, and finally the council of chieftains named one guy, Thorgeir Thorkelsson, to make the call. After thinking about it for a day, he said that Iceland would become Christian…BUT, people could continue their pagan practices in private.
By the time of the Reformation, Denmark was ruling over Iceland, and similar uproar occurred, but royalty again had their way, and Iceland joined Scandinavia in becoming Lutheran.
Many of the exhibits in the National Museum of Iceland cover the religion, but others look at attempts to make tools, endure winters and volcanoes, and govern a society that was largely self-created.
Eventually, transportation (and later communication) became more reliable and Iceland felt a greater and greater part of Europe, but also developed its own identity. They won self-rule in 1874, sovereignty in 1918, and full independence in 1944. During World War II, Iceland was occupied by the British and the Americans, and the USA didn't really end their military presence until 2006.
I learned a lot, but hey, it's my last day in Iceland, so I deserve a little treat. So I ordered Icelandic char (that's a salmon-like fish), which left me with a good taste in my mouth…as has all of Iceland.
That's it, Blogonauts. In 12 hours, I'll be on board the plane home. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Here's to more travels to come.
Blog to you later!