Victor L. Derzhavin

Institute of Archaeology RAS, Moscow (

Renaming of Spitzbergen to Svalbard in 1925 was underlain by political reasons: it was aimed at securing Norway’s ‘historical rights’ to the archipelago. It was widely supported by Norwegian society though criti­cized by the other European, especially Danish, researchers locating Svalbard in eastern Greenland. However, a series of Icelandic maps locating Svalbard or ‘the Ice Shore’ between latitude 68 and 72 degrees north made their appearance in Europe as early as in the 16th–18th centuries. Having compared cartographic materials with Icelandic sagas Icelandic cartographers drew the conclusion that the fabulous Svalbard was located on the eastern shore of Greenland and could not have anything to do with Spitzbergen.

Keywords: Greenland, Vikings, Spitzbergen, Svalbard, Icelandic cartographers, Arctic conditions, sagas, ship.