Saturday, February 11, 2017

Iceland, Step II

Having gone through the 19 centers of Iceland, twice [once in English and once in the Icelandic version of Wikipedia] ~ and finding one more center shown on a different map of my source material (1952 Colliers Encyclopedia), that being Neskaupstadur, I have the following information in hand:

With regards to the five places at the bottom, I have definite information that these places were founded after 1650, so in my world they don't exist.  Having them on the list is still important, however, as the balance of their presence is subtracted from the total in order to determine the population for the remainder.

I have 10 places where I have a vague knowledge of when they were founded.  Traditionally, Reykjavik was the first place in Iceland that was founded, and traditionally that year is 874.  Who knows when it was actually founded or even if it was first; but for D&D purposes, I like using the myth over what may or may not be fact.  A similar example occurs everywhere, so that is policy.

Of these 10, I have six that are described as appearing in the Landnamsold (linking the Icelandic page), which describes the first settlements in Iceland.  Here is a pretty map:

By Abraham Ortelius, cartographer, titled Islandia, circa 1590
Those places listed as being founded in 880, 930 or 950 are, at best, guesses. Those that were described as being founded in the 9th century (about as accurate as it gets), I listed as the first round number after Reykjavik.  Hafnarfjordur (or Boots, as it was called), was described as late in the Landnamsold period.  Seydisfjordur was described as "10th century."  But I don't have to be supremely accurate here; I just want an approximation.

Most places have the same name today as they did long ago, with very few exceptions.  That is also probably not quite true ~ but since I am working with English and not Icelandic (which must have variations), I don't care about too much nuance.  Again, we're just looking for an approximation.

I've divided the place names into the four traditioning Farthings of Iceland, the old name for the provinces.  The next step is to look up their latitude, longitude and elevation, so the places can be plotted on a map, and the map adjusted for the elevation of the hex that the place name will occupy.  I'll be looking that information up on a glorious site called


Tim said...

That is a spectacular map!

Samuel Kernan said...

I like seeing the research step by step (I'm doing a bit of this right now). Do you get trade system references from wikipedia or your 1952 encyclopedia? And if you get them from wikipedia, do you pull them from just the intro paragraph or do you scour the whole article for them?

Alexis Smolensk said...

From the 1952 encyclopedia. Because there were only four or five persons who confirmed those entries back in the day, the content for each article is consistent; moreover, the entries were researched and confirmed. Each follows a pattern of design; having read through so many, I've gotten very familiar with the style.

Wikipedia, of course, is hearsay; it is hopelessly inconsistent. One town of 2,000 has a huge long essay because the writer happens to know the town well; and then there are 150 words about a town of 15,000. There's a ton more information about a town in America than there is in Africa or Arabia. Huge swaths of history just don't exist on wikipedia: for example, there's the period between 850 and 950, then there's nothing until the 17th or 18th centuries.

The encyclopedia suffers from Eurocentricity; Wikipedia suffers from Anglocentricity. The translation mode is a terrific improvement; I can go look up the Iceland cities in Icelandic. Unfortunately, there aren't that many contributers to wikipedia that speak Icelandic, so I found there still wasn't much detail ~ and again, it is inconsistent. Most of the writers are obviously from Reykjavik; what do they know about a town of 850, that is apparently a thousand years old, that's in some obscure part of the island? Not much, apparently.

It is a pity. But Africa is much, much worse. Even the region pages, pages that talk about whole countries, are lacking; most of what they have to say is content they can get from NGOs, which of course are only interested in very recent history and the degree of poverty (and, of course, what they have personally accomplished).

Maliloki said...

I don't know if you knew about this already, or if it will actually help at all with your mapping, but I was just made aware of this and immediately thought of you so I thought I'd share it.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thank you Maliloki,

It is interesting, particularly the trail maps in North America. I may find some use for this.