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24 January 2022 Behind the Ice: The Archaeology of Nunatarsuaq, Southwest Greenland
Christian Koch Madsen, Ann Eileen Lennert
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Here we present the results of archaeological surveys carried out 2012–2019 in Nunatarsuaq, a remote and little investigated region bordered by glaciers and the Kangersuneq ice-fjord at the head of Nuup Kangerlua, Southwest Greenland. We provide a detail analysis of Nunatarsuaq's medieval Norse sites and settlement patterns, clarify previous site identification inconsistencies, and outline the character of subsequent Thule culture/historic Inuit activities. The long-term historical ecology of Nunatarsuaq and Kangersuneq informed by this evidence contradicts an existing notion of the region's marginality. In fact, we find that the Norse settlement included three sizable farms practicing transhumance, a set of new 14C-dates implying that activities were part of first colonization (ca. AD 1000) of the Norse Western Settlement, and continued into the 14th century. We find no evidence that Little Ice Age climatic deterioration, possibly setting in as early as AD 1200, had an immediate impact on Norse settlement in Nunatarsuaq. Successful Norse adaptation strategies probably involved heavy reliance on the locally abundant wild marine and terrestrial species that also attracted and sustained the subsequent Thule culture and later Inuit groups.

Christian Koch Madsen and Ann Eileen Lennert "Behind the Ice: The Archaeology of Nunatarsuaq, Southwest Greenland," Journal of the North Atlantic 2022(42), 1-32, (24 January 2022).
Published: 24 January 2022

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