National Geographic : 1898 Mar
DWELLINGS OF THE SAGA-TIME IN left was about 13 meters from the door of the house, on the steep mountain side. It was 4 meters square, built of turf only, and partially underground. There was a large square platform of stones in one corner which had served for a fire-place. Narrow platforms of earth faced along the outer edge with upright stones, on which the inhabitants both sat and slept, ex tended along one or both sides of the hall. In the large halls these platforms were about 23 centimeters high and 1i meters broad. Sometimes there was also a broader platform at one end of the hall. Samsstadir is one of the farmsteads in the Thor's River valley which was buried during an eruption of Mount Hecla in the fourteenth century. This valley is called the Pompeii of Iceland. The farm was probably abandoned about 1300. It shows the first change in the evolution toward thicker walls. With the exception of some spinning-stones, which were found in the sitting-room of a house not shown here, no relics were found during these researches. It is also an interesting fact that no runic inscription belonging to the Saga-time or for two cen turies later has yet been found in Iceland. The evolution which has taken place in house-building since the Saga-time has been in the steady increase in the thickness of the walls until their breadth is nearly doubled, a slight in crease in height, not admitting a second story under the roof, and the addition of many apartments, so that from a distance the many roofs of a farmstead look almost like a little village. GREENLAND Greenland was discovered and colonized by Erik Thorvaldsson toward the end of the tenth century, and from that time two Norse colonies, called respectively the eastern and the western settlements, prospered for about three hundred years. The ruins of these two settlements have been studied with more or less care by the Danish government. In the eastern settlement a hundred and fifty farms, with all their outbuildings, have been surveyed and measured. A few dwelling-houses have been thoroughly dug out and examined.* * Beskrivelse af Ruiner i Julianehaabs Distrikt i Aaret 1880, af G. F. Holm. Meddel elser om Gronland, udgivne af Commissionen for Ledelsen af de geologiske og geo graphiske Undersogelser i Gronland. Copenhagen, 1883, vol. vi. Undersogelse af Gronlands Vestkyst fra 64° til 670 N. B. af J. A. D. Jensen, 1884 og 1885. Meddelelser om Gronland. Copenhagen, 1889, vol. viii. Arkseologiske Undersogelser i Julianehaabs Distrikt af Daniel Brunn, 1895. Meddel elser om Grinland. Copenhagen, 1896, vol. xvi.