The Icelandic saga: scientists reveal some mysteries

Last Updated: September 9, 2016

Scientists from Iceland decided to research sagas as historical sketches,helped them to discover some mysteries of ancient times. The ancient chroniclers were using sagas as records of historical events, not fairy tales. As scientists proved, Icelandic sagas are not so much a folk art as the historical chronicle.

The Icelandic scientists have conducted a study of national sagas, similar research was started by their Australian colleagues. That time the Australian historians have formulated a modern idea for the study of the Icelandic sagas, and Icelandic historiographers just deepened the research.

Most Icelandic saga writings were probably considered in the Middle Ages to be a form of a history rather than fiction. Often in its sagas, Iceland “writing back” to Norway and to common Scandinavian oral traditions of poetry and story. In this process, medieval Icelandic authors created a new literary form.

The structure of saga narratives allows a number of different thematic and stylistic tropes to flourish. Many sagas of Icelanders are about feuds between families and their supporters; they give graphic accounts of fights, escapes, outlawry and reconciliation.

The historiographers underline that Icelandic sagas detail complex legal procedures that, in the absence of a police force on the island, were the individual’s main recourse to justice, but only if he had sufficiently powerful supporters.