Week 9: Turf-Building Data Report, Group C 

On Thursday of Week 9, our Experimental Archaeology/Experiential History class worked on reconstructing an Icelandic-style turf building. In our previous lab, we constructed the Viking-era tent and this week we will be recreating the “booth” upon which we will place our tent. We experienced different construction methods, with different groups using different types of turf strips, blocks, clamped blocks, glaumbaeer blocks, milk-pen blocks, and corner blocks. Group C along with Group B worked to cut long strips of turf, known as the strengir “strips.” 

Turf-Cutting Process Data: 

Our process begins with using a spade and a variety of other tools to outline blocks with vertical cuts. We then used a side knife to cut the root matter and get out any of the rocks that may hinder our turfs which were underneath the soil. Our final step was then to lift and flip out the strip with a shovel and spade. During this process, I tracked how long it took our group of three to complete the task from start to finish. The table and graph below shows the time we took to complete 10 strips.

Number of StripesTime

In the beginning, it took longer to dig the strips, as shown by the 8.33 and 8.59 minutes recorded respectively for Strip 1 and Strip 2. However, as time went on, our group gradually settled into assigned roles, with one person primarily using the shovel, another using the sod knife, and taking turns, which helped speed up the process as shown with faster times around Strips 6 and 7. There is no clear trend indicated in the data collected because we have a very  limited sample size of 10. Additionally, the lack of clear trends can also be attributed to the fact that each new strip presented unique challenges. For example, Strip 8 took the least time because it was smaller and had fewer rocks and roots which made it much easier to pull out. Comparatively, Strip 10 took 7.3 minutes because we encountered large rocks and tough roots. Furthermore, by the 10th strip, our group was also tired from the intensive digging process and the heat. This highlight contributed to the variability in the data. Many of the stripes we collected also crumbled and broke in the center due to the wet soil underneath caused by the rain. While they were used as smaller stripes, I did not include them in the total 10 sample sizes. 

Assembly and Construction: 

Once all the strips were eventually collected, our group C dug strips that closely matched the measurements of 10 cm depth, 30 cm width, and 60 cm length. After all the groups collected their respective pieces and assembled them to form the booth, the final measurements of the side our group worked on (strengir) were 295 cm in length, 253 cm in width, and 237 cm in height.

Qualitative findings:

  • The variability in the land and soil resulted in different experiences for groups digging and making strips. Some areas were more penetrable, while others were tougher and sturdier, often due to rocks and roots that made it much harder for us to dig through. 
  • The breakage of strips was common when we dug larger and longer stripes.  As we picked them up to transfer near the construction site or out of the digging area, the middle part of the strip would often break and crumble. This was because the soil was still wet and moist from the previous day’s rain. This issue was less common with smaller strips, as their shorter length made them easier to handle and carry.

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