7th Experimental Archaeology Conference Poster Abstract – Christensen and Ryhl-Svendsen

Poster presentation:

Living conditions and indoor air quality in a reconstructed Viking house

Jannie Marie Christensen1 and Morten Ryhl-Svendsen2

1Section for Medieval and Renascence Archaeology, Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

2Department of Conservation, National Museum of Denmark

A PDF of this poster, copyright of the authors, is available to download.

How harmful to a person’s health were the indoor conditions in Danish Viking Age houses? We do not have much direct evidence describing that, but we know that currently exposure to smoke from the solid fuel used for cooking and heating in open fireplaces in Third World homes is to blame for about 1.6 million deaths annually, and accounts for about 3% of the global burden of diseases, mainly for women and children.

During the winter of 2011-2012, a study was conducted in two Danish reconstructions of the “Hedeby House” (870 AD): for five weeks in October-November at Moesgaard Museum, and for ten weeks in February-April at Bork Viking Harbour. The houses were inhabited by volunteers with living conditions matching as closely as possible our knowledge of life in the Viking Age. During the study, the thermal environment and indoor air quality were monitored.

Heating and cooking were in average maintained by a daily fuel consumption of 50 kg hardwood. The mean temperature was 15-18°C inside the two houses, while the outdoor mean temperature was 10°C lower. The indoor temperature distribution was, however, very asymmetric and dominated by radiant heat, which we will show on the poster by infrared images.

The air quality was dominated by wood combustion products, with daily levels of fine particles on the order of 0.80 – 3.4 mg/m3. Carbon monoxide was in the range of 5.5-22 ppm (mean conc.).The study is the subject of a master’s thesis by one of the authors (Christensen, expected 2013).


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