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Work at the Institute includes a wide variety of philological research on medieval manuscripts, and study of the language, literature and history of former centuries. This currently focuses on theoretical and applied projects, large and small, concerned with the preservation of the manuscripts, investigation of them and their history, and publications. Textual criticism and other research is often carried out in collaboration with other scholars and manuscript specialist.
Ethnology and folklore
The Institute preserves an ethnography collection of audio recordings of oral traditions. A database on Iceland's musical heritage, Ísmús, operated jointly with the Icelandic Music Collection, includes a categorised index of ethnographical material and audio recordings (in part). Research is conducted on the collection’s materials and various related projects involve, in particular, collection and registration.
Place names
Place names and naming traditions are an important part of Icelandic cultural heritage. Many place names have been preserved unchanged from the time of first settlement.
The archive of Icelandic Place Names preserves lists of place names from almost every farm in Iceland, as well as place names in highland pastures and on fishing banks, to name some examples.
Work is underway on digitising the archive and opening a database portal - - to facilitate access to the collection by both scholars and the general public. The Icelandic Research Council RANNÍS recently awarded a grant for the project which began in 2019.
Part of the Archive of Place Names is accessible in Sarpur, a cultural history database.