Human Impact at Advent City (Human Impact at Advent City)

‘Human Impact at Advent City’ is a concise case study into the lasting environmental consequences of human activity at the former coal mine and settlement of Advent City in Isfjorden.

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Project type

  • field work


  • marine biology
  • terrestrial biology
  • social sciences

Project Keywords

  • human dimensions / environmental impacts / environmental assessments
  • human dimensions / human settlements / archaeological areas

Fieldwork information

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1 Introduction • The study of Svalbard’s human past benefits from a well-preserved archaeological record complemented by a wealth of historical documents spanning four centuries of human presence in the archipelago. • Previous research emphasis has very much been on nationalistic perspectives of the economic history of whaling, fur hunting, and mining. • Yet, Svalbard is uniquely suited for the investigation of long-term human impact on Arctic ecosystems. • ‘Human Impact at Advent City’ is a concise case study into the environmental consequences of human activity at the former coal mine and settlement of Advent City in Isfjorden. 2 Archaeological Context • Spitsbergen o first documented by Willem Barentsz in 1596 o exploitative phases of whaling, sealing, fur hunting, and fishing o increasing science, tourism, and mining from the late 19th century • Advent City o no previous human activity prior to the Bergen Co. in 1901 o Spitzbergen Coal & Trading Co. on site between 1904 and 1908 o houses of Advent City removed to Hiorthhamn in 1916 o with the exception of a modern cabin, the site has never been reused o low-key tourism • Previous work: o Johannessen, L. J. (1997) Hiorthhamn. Coal mining under difficult conditions, Longyearbyen: Governor of Svalbard. o Martin, P., Avango, D., Hartnell, C., Martin, S. R., Mishkar, L., Oglethorpe, M., Rosness, G., Tennant, E., and West, I. (2006) Industrial heritage in the arctic: research and training on Svalbard, August 2004 [LASHIA 1], Michigan: MTU. o Foosnœs, K. (2012) Rapport arkeoloiske registreringer Longyearbyen planområde 2012. Longyearbyen: Governor of Svalbard. o Kruse, F. (2013) Frozen assets – British mining, exploration, and geopolitics on Spitsbergen, 1904 – 53. Eelde: Barkhuis. o Kruse, F. (2015) Historical archaeology of Advent City and Hiorthhamn, Isfjorden, Spitsbergen, July 21, 2014. Unpublished fieldwork report. Groningen: Arctic Centre. 3 Aims and Objectives • To facilitate the move of the research agenda away from nationalistic perspectives of economic history towards comprehensive historical ecology • To facilitate the revival of Svalbard historical archaeology by formulating new research questions and embedding these in the wider Arctic and global scientific dialogue • To measure and evaluate the overall human impact at Advent City after 100 years of site abandonment • To place the case study in a wider Arctic and global context • To engage in education, public involvement, and public outreach o By approaching the site from a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective o By producing a detailed 3D terrain model o By additional archaeological recording of some key features of the former settlement and associated mining activity o By carrying out photogrammetry on selected key features, i.e. house plans and upstanding houses at Hiorthhamn o By detailed vegetation mapping and classification o By detailed surface bone mapping and identification o By partially excavating two middens below the former stables o By excavating two or more former latrines o By carrying out underwater archaeological survey immediately off shore from Advent City o By working jointly with the Governor of Svalbard, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Svalbard Museum, UNIS, the residents of Longyearbyen, visitors to Svalbard, and archaeological specialists 4 Methodology • Standards and guidelines o Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) o Historic England o Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) o Netherlands Inspectorate for Archaeology (RIA)

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