Monday, March 3, 2014

Arctic Encounters Between Norse and Natives

Today Medievalists.net brings us a nice little article and video clip about archaeological proof of a much larger degree of interaction between the Norse and Dorset Eskimos in the Arctic, as well as more extensive Norse settlement in North America:
Historians have already made use of Icelandic sagas and archaeological evidence to show that the Norse established a settlement of up to 2000 people in Greenland, and explored into Newfoundland and the Gulf of St.Lawrence region. In Greenland itself, the people survived by raising livestock and hunting walrus. The ivory from walruses was the main trading good for Greenlanders with the rest of Europe.
Sutherland, who helped established the Helluland Archaeology Project, has found evidence of a Norse presence on Baffin Island and in northern Labrador, an area that the Norse called Helluland for its barren and bleak appearance. The archaeological evidence suggests that the Norse established trading outposts with the Dorset Eskimos, a people that lived in the western part of Canada’s arctic.
Furthermore this contact existed seems to have existed prior to the Norse settlement of Greenland around the year 1000. This relationship continued on until the 13th and perhaps 14th centuries, when the Dorset peoples died out. It was also around this time that another native group, the Inuit moved into the Baffin Island area – they seemed to have had a more antagonistic relationship with the Norse, using piracy to capture Norse boats.
(Much more at the link, including the afore-mentioned video)

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