Saturday, April 11, 2015

Climate change is destroying Greenland’s earliest history

The settlement Qajaa at Ilulissat Ice Fjord in West Greenland. Over the past 3500 years this has been home to the three main Greenlandic cultures, attracted by the bountiful fishing opportunities at this boundary between water and ice. They have all used area to dispose of their tools of wood, bone, and even skin, forming an ancient rubbish dump known as a kitchen midden. These deposits have been preserved ever since in the permafrost of West Greenland. (Photo: Bo Elberling)

The frozen ground around Ilulissat Ice Fjord in western Greenland is a treasure trove for archaeologists.
The permafrost in this area, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, acts like a giant freezer, preserving the remains of the three major cultures of Greenland’s past in deposits known as kitchen middens -- essentially ancient dunghills created by the early cultures on Greenland.
These are the Saqqaq, Dorset and Thule peoples, who at various times in the last 3500 years all lived in the old settlement of Qajaa, in south Greenland.
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