Michele Hayeur Smith


Michèle Hayeur Smith is an anthropological archaeologist with research interests in gender, textiles, dress, adornment and material culture studies. She has fieldwork experience in Iceland, and North America. Her doctoral research, conducted on jewellery and dress from Viking Age Icelandic burials, looked at items of dress for clues about the projection of social and cultural identity. Her postdoctoral research addressed these same theoretical issues, but applied to Aboriginal populations along the Gulf of the St. Lawrence prior and after the contact period. This project was a part of the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Cultures (GRASAC), organized by Dr. Ruth Phillips at Carleton University.

More recently she has returned to the North Atlantic and Iceland and is currently working on research projects on gender and the production and circulation of textiles from the Viking Age to the early 19th century. NSF Arctic Social Sciences (Award no. 102316) “Rags to Riches: an Archaeological Study of Gender and Textiles in Iceland AD875-AD1800” examined curated archaeological textiles collections from roughly 34 Icelandic sites and has offered new insights into gender, textile production and trade in and out of Iceland, weaving technologies through time, as well as dress practices throughout the medieval period. This project has hopefully brought women’s lives and women’s roles in the Icelandic economy, household organization, regional politics, and culture into the forefront.

In 2013 She was awarded a second grant from the National Science Foundation (Award no. 1303898 ) “Weaving Islands of Cloth: Gender, Textiles and Trade across the North Atlantic, from the Viking Age to the Early Modern Period” expanding upon the previous grant and carrying a comparative, 1000-year examination of textiles as primary evidence for women’s labor and roles in some of the Norse colonies that expanded from Scandinavia across the North Atlantic in the 9th century AD and developed, over the following millennium, into the modern nations of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland.



2004  Draupnir’s Sweat and Mardöll’s Tears: An Archaeology of Jewelry, Gender, and Identity in Viking Age Iceland. British Archaeological Reports, John and Erica Hedges, Ltd. & Archaeopress, Oxford.

Articles/Chapters in Refereed Journals or Edited Books:

Peer reviewed:

2016 (in press) “Ethnicity and Cultural Influence in Dress from Scandinavia and the North Atlantic,” in Medieval Volume I, Berg Culture History of Fashion, edited by Sarah Grace Heller; Berg Publishing, Oxford.

2016 (in press) “Cloth and Hanseatic trade with Iceland.” In Germans in the North Atlantic, Northern World Series, edited by Natascha Mehler and Mark Gardner; Brill publishing, Leiden.

2016 (in press) Textiles; in The Reykholt Church Excavation, edited by Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir. Snorrastofa and Þjóðminjasafn Íslands, Reykjavík.

2016 The “Burgundian” Hat from Herjolfsnes, Greenland: new discoveries, new dates” Paper coauthored with Jette Arneborg, National Museum of Denmark, and Kevin P. Smith, Brown University. Danish Journal of Archaeology. DOI :10.1080/21662282.2016.1151615

2016  Book review of Silk for the Vikings by Marianne Vedeler,(Ancient Textile Series 15.) Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxford Books, 2016. In Speculum.

2015  “Weaving wealth: Cloth and trade in Viking Age and medieval Iceland.” In Textiles and the Medieval Economy: Production, Trade, and Consumption of Textiles, 8th–16th Centuries. Edited by Angela Ling Huang, Carsten Jahnke; Ancient Textile Series, Vol 16, Oxbow books.: 23-40.

2014  “Dress, Cloth and the Farmer’s Wife: Textiles from Ø172 Tatsipataa, Greenland with Comparative Data from Iceland.” In Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 6 (2014): 64–81.

 2013  “Thorir’s Bargain: Gender, vaðmal, and the law.” In World Archaeology – Special Issue: The Archaeology of Legal Culture, edited by A. Reynolds and K.P. Smith, Vol. 45(5), pp.730-746, Routledge.

2012  ‘Some in Rags and Some in Jags and Some in Silken Gowns’: Textiles from Iceland’s Early Modern Period.” International Journal of Historic Archaeology 16(3): 509-528. DOI: 10.1007/s10761-012-0190-1.

2010  “Evidence about Dress of Indigenous People: Canadian Territory.” In The Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: United States and Canada, Vol 3, pp 18-26, edited by Phyllis G. Totora, editor in chief, Joanne B. Eicher, Berg Publishers, Oxford.

2005 “Breaking the Mould, a re-evaluation of Viking Age Mould Making techniques for oval brooches.” In De Re Metallica: Studies in Medieval Metals, AVISTA Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art, vol 4; edited by Robert Bork et al, pp. 81-99. Ashgate Press, Aldershot, Hampshire UK.

Not peer reviewed:

2015  “Textiles and Jewellery”, in Bundled up in Blue: the re-investigation of a Viking grave, exhibit catalogue from the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik.

2013 Textiles from the 1988 Bessastaðir Excavation. In Bessastaðarannsókn 1988, edited by Guðmundur Ólafsson, pp. 93-109. Skýrslur Þjóðminjasafn Íslands, 2012.

2006 “Hides, Clay, Beads and Bear Teeth: Iroquoian Fashions.” In The St Lawrence Iroquois, Corn People, pp 78-79. Edited by Roland Tremblay, Musée d’Archéologie Pointe-à-Callières en collaboration les Éditions de l’Homme; Montréal, Canada.

2004 “Conceal to reveal: Life, death, and engendered adornment in Viking Age Iceland.” In Un traducteur du passé, mélanges en homage à Norman Clermont; edited by Claude Chapdelaine and Pierre Corbeil, pp. 235-252. Paléo-Québec 31, Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec.

2004 “Dressing the dead: Gender, identity, and adornment in Viking-Age Iceland.” In Vinland Revisited, the Norse at the Turn of the First Millennium, Viking Millennium International Symposium, Sept.15-24, 2000, Newfoundland and Labrador, edited by S. Lewis-Simpson, pp. 227-240. Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc., St. John’s, Newfoundland.

  2001″A Viking Age smith from Sílastaðir, Iceland.” Árbók hins Íslenzka Fornleifafélags 2000: 191-202.

2000 Archaeological Illustrations for the re-publication of Kuml og Haugfé -Úr Heiðnum Sið á Íslandi by Kristján Eldjárn and Adolf Friðriksson, Mál og Menning, Reykjavik.


Technical Reports and Non-Refereed Manuscripts:

2012 Preliminary Textile Report from the 1988 Bessastaðir Excavations. Research Reports from the Circumpolar Lab, Number 4. Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University.

2011  Preliminary Report – Textiles from Möðruvellir, Iceland. Research Reports from the Circumpolar Laboratory, Number 3. Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Circumpolar Laboratory, Brown University.

2011 Preliminary Report – Textiles from Gásir, Iceland. Research Reports from the Circumpolar Laboratory, Number 2. Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Circumpolar Laboratory, Brown University.


Work in Progress:

2016  “The Heddle Rods Are Blood-Soaked Spears”: Life, Death, Fate and Fear: Female Embodiment Through Weaving In Viking Age and Medieval Iceland. Paper to be submitted to Fear and Dread in the Archaeological Record, edited by Chris Wolf and Kevin P Smith.

Links: Many articles are available for download on Academia.edu

  • Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology:


  • Academia.edu: 


  • Researchgate: