Mittens Long in the National Museum of Iceland’s Archive Dated to Settlement Era

mittens in national museum of iceland

When Halldór Kristjánsson, a farmer from Akranes, dug new foundations for his farm in 1960, he unearthed a pair of mittens that have since sat in the collection of the National Museum. Kristján Eldjárn, then the head conservationist and future president of Iceland, suspected that the mittens dated from the earliest period in Iceland’s history.

His suspicion had gone unconfirmed until now, when a study conducted by researchers at the National Museum verified their antiquity.

national museum of iceland
provided by Þjóðminjasafn Íslands

Last spring, a sample from the Heynes mittens, named after the farm on which they were discovered, was sent abroad to a lab for analysis. Two samples were taken, one from the mittens themselves, and one from a braided cord that connects the mittens. The results of the dating show that both the mittens and cord are from the second half of the 10th century, placing them before the Christianization of Iceland. Notably, they are also an example of early sewing techniques for clothing, as knitting was not used in Iceland until the 1500s.

Earlier this year, Scandinavian textile experts conducted research at the National Museum of Iceland. They concluded that if the mittens did indeed date from the settlement period, their pristine condition could make them nearly unique as artefacts in the North Atlantic. The mittens are made from homespun wool, a staple fabric during the settlement of Iceland. Their remarkable preservation is attributed to their burial in the earth under the farmstead at Heynes.

The mittens, known as Þjms. 1960-77, can be viewed online at the National Museum of Iceland’s digital archive. The mittens are also on display at the National Museum, which is open from 10.00 to 17.00 every day of the week.

 

 

Police Announce Historic Drug Bust

Capital Area Police

The Capital Area Police held a press conference yesterday announcing a historic drug bust. The street value of the seizure amounts to ISK 2.4 billion ($18.5 million / €17.4 million).

ISK 1.7 billion worth of drugs seized

At 2 pm yesterday, the Capital Area Police Department held a press conference announcing a historic drug bust resulting from two extensive investigations. The street value of the drugs seized in the two busts amounts to an estimated ISK 2.4 billion ($18.5 million / €17.4 million). Ten individuals have been arrested in connection to each investigation.

According to Assistant Detective Chief Superintendent Margeir Sveinsson – who introduced the results of the former investigation – the Capital Area Police had been monitoring individuals suspected of the manufacture, distribution, and sale of illegal narcotics over the past few months. The individuals in question were also suspected of money laundering.

On May 20, a raid was carried out in 14 locations – commercial buildings, residential homes, and farmsteads. The police later searched six other places during their investigation, and ten individuals were arrested, one of whom remains in custody.

“We believe this is the biggest domestic seizure connected to a single investigation,” Margeir stated. The police seized 200 cannabis plants, over 30 kg of marijuana, 20 kg of hashish, and 7 kg of MDA. The police also seized MDA base, from which it is possible to manufacture over 200,000 ecstasy pills; 2 kg of cocaine; 1 kg of amphetamines; and over 40 litres of amphetamine base, which, based on its potency, could suffice to manufacture 170 kg of amphetamine for street sale. Finally, the police confiscated two kg of crystal methamphetamine, a “very potent drug,” according to Margeir.

Margeir estimated that the street value of these substances amounted to ISK 1.7 billion ($13.1 million / €12.3 million). He also observed that profits from sales were commonly laundered through legal businesses. The investigation is still ongoing.

700 million worth of amphetamine

After Margeir had concluded, Detective Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson discussed a separate investigation into organised crime that’s been ongoing for the past one and a half years. The investigation was initiated by information from Europol predicated on encrypted messages. In early 2020, imported substances were used to produce 117 kg of amphetamine, with a street value of 700 million ($5.4 million / €5.1 million). Ten individuals were arrested during the investigation, five were detained, three of whom remain in custody. According to mbl.is, all of the suspects in custody are Icelandic males.

Over 200 judicial claims

Hulda Elsa Björgvinsdóttir, Head of Indictments with the Capital Area Police Department, stated that legal proceedings based on the two investigations had been initiated in September, 2020. Many more legal complaints, or over 200, have since been filed.

The charges include organised crime in connection to the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of illegal narcotics, in addition to money laundering. According to Hulda, a great deal of time and effort was spent on the investigations and local authorities have been  in continuous contact with police authorities abroad.

Hulda also noted the extensiveness of the crimes, observing that it was worth considering their impact on the lives of affected individuals. She also questioned the effectiveness of laws stipulating that suspects may only be held in custody for twelve weeks unless charges are brought: “a brief time,” in relation to such extensive investigations, Hulda remarked.

Among the “greatest threat” to society

Chief of Police Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir also addressed media during the press conference. She remarked that the importation and manufacture of illegal narcotics was the single largest aspect of organised crime, which she deemed “one of the more serious threats” to modern Icelandic society.

Margeir added that the police had an estimated 10 ongoing investigations into organised crime in Iceland.

Stricter Social Restrictions Proposed Amid Rising Cases

Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Director of Health Alma Möller

Yesterday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason submitted a proposal on new COVID measures to Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir. Although she declined to comment on the specifics, the Minister confirmed to Mbl.is that Þórólfur has advised that the authorities move to tighten social restrictions.

A record-number of infections?

One hundred forty-four new COVID cases were reported yesterday, the highest number of infections since August 4 of this year. Seventeen people are in hospital, thereof five in intensive care.

These cases are not confined to the Reykjavík area; following a cluster of infections in Akranes and Sangerði, local authorities have decided to close schools and postpone recreational activities in the area.

In light of numerous cases, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason submitted a proposal on new COVID measures to Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir yesterday. Speaking to Mbl.is, the Minister stated that authorities would be reviewing Þórólfur’s suggestion at a cabinet meeting this morning.

“Yes, it concerns tightening restrictions. We know what measures can be taken when infections are rising, and that’s what the cabinet will discuss tomorrow,” Svandís stated in an interview with Mbl.is yesterday. The Minister confirmed that Þórólfur’s proposal solely concerned domestic restrictions as opposed to measures to be taken on the border.

Asked if she was concerned about the apparent dwindling of solidarity when it comes to proposed domestic restrictions, Svandís refused to say: “Only time will tell, of course. In conjunction with these measures, we’ll be launching a campaign of booster shots, which will hopefully increase immunity among the populace.”

According to the Minister, the primary aim of the proposed restrictions is to protect the hospital and the healthcare system. “Like all nations struggling against this new wave of the pandemic, it’s about protecting the lives and the health of citizens and preventing the curve from rising too sharply so that the system can continue to provide adequate service.”

Svandís added that easing all domestic social restrictions on November 18 was not realistic: “I think it’s apparent to all of us that the infections are spreading too quickly now.”

A historic proposal

In an interview with Rás 2 this morning, Svandís Svavarsdóttir observed that even more COVID cases had been diagnosed yesterday and would be reported today.

“We know that with the Delta variant, we can expect a hospitalization rate of ca. 2%, with a proportion of that percentage requiring intensive care. We know, given the statistics, what we are dealing with.”

Svandís added that the National University Hospital could handle approximately 40-50 infections a day; in light of the government’s most recent removal of social restrictions, however, the curve is rising too fast for the healthcare system to cope.

Finally, Svandís referred to Þórólfur’s new proposal as “historic;” in the memo, he traces the origin of the pandemic in Iceland and reviews the measures that have been taken. Þórólfur also discusses what has worked and what hasn’t, arguing that the authorities must move switftly to enact tighter restrictions: the aim being to flatten the curve back to approximately 40-50 new infections a day. The measures, according to Svandís, involve placing limits on public gathering, mask mandates, and restrictions on the operation hours of business.