Ann Sølvia Selmarsdóttir Purkhús

  • Kúrdalsvegur 15, FO-188 Hoyvík

    Faroe Islands

Personal profile

Research interests

By studying archaeology, we can study how humans socially and cognitively interacted with each other and the landscapes surrounding them in a wider perspective. These social interactions can be seen through physical remains in the form of artefacts, ecofacts (biological materials), architecture, cultural landscapes, and so forth. We all have our different experiences in how we interact with each other and also the landscapes we are part of. Growing up in the Faroe Islands in a small village in the north, Viðareiði, I was very much fascinated by the interactions between people and the landscape. In the Faroes there is a long tradition of oral story-telling and singing together in the small local communities. The stories told and the ballads sung helped to ignite my interest in archaeology, history, and human-landscape interactions.

My first steps in academia began at the University in Copenhagen in Near Eastern Archaeology. Part of this education was an excavation in Jarash in Jordan, where I learned the process of excavation and the post-excavation work associated with archaeological research. For my Master’s degree I choose to study Prehistoric Archaeology and my academic focus and field experiences shifted toward the north to Denmark, Greenland, Shetland, Orkney and the Faroe Islands. This gave me a wider and more nuanced perspective of archaeology in the north. For my Master’s thesis I decided to focus on settlement and landscape archaeology, with a focus on the Faroe Islands, by comparing these islands with other islands in Shetland and Orkney. This work was very fascinating and lead me to undertake a PhD degree in archaeology.  In 2014, together with my first supervisor Dr. Karen Milek, I received a grant of £175,500 over three years from the Faroese Research Council in the Faroe Islands and grants from two municipalities in the Faroe Islands, Fugloy Municipality and Hvannasunds Municipality. This financial support provided the economic basis for me to begin to conduct a research degree in Archaeology, which includes original archival, oral-history, archaeological survey, and excavation work in the Faroe Islands.

In my studies I have always shown dedication to the material or subject I am studying. I choose to conduct doctoral studies in archaeology, because I find it a privilege to be able to examine archaeological evidence in detail and at the same time have good and professional colleagues. I have experience in archaeological fieldwork in the North Atlantic and survey at Greenland, the Shetland Islands and the Faroe Islands. I also have experience organising projects, having been the main organizer for a symposium and a teaching seminar about North Atlantic Archaeology held at Copenhagen in Summer 2013. In addition, co-organizing a conference of the Nordic Research Network (NRN), which was held at the University of Aberdeen in research related to the Nordic region in 2017. The theoretical and academic disciplines I have gained throughout my study, are used in both archaeological and outreach contexts. I thrive both in disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts. During my studies I have learned to work with the pre-history and history of the past and cultural analysis in a broad time frame.

As I have grown up in the Faroe Islands I have personal interest in the archaeological cultures of these islands, but also in the North Atlantic as a whole. I think this geographic area contains great potential for novel archaeological research concerning both settlement and burial archaeology. Furthermore, researching such a large geographic region gives good prospects for studying the differences and similarities between the countries in the North Atlantic.


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