Skip to comments.Rush for iron spurred Inuit ancestors to sprint across Arctic, book contends
Posted on 02/10/2010 4:03:00 PM PST by SunkenCiv
One of Canada's top archeologists argues in a new book that the prehistoric ancestors of this country's 55,000 Inuit probably migrated rapidly from Alaska clear across the Canadian North in just a few years -- not gradually over centuries as traditionally assumed -- after they learned about a rich supply of iron from a massive meteorite strike on Greenland's west coast.
The startling theory, tentatively floated two decades ago by Canadian Museum of Civilization curator emeritus Robert McGhee, has been bolstered by recent research indicating a later and faster migration of the ancient Thule Inuit across North America's polar frontier than previously believed... around 1250 AD...
new radiocarbon data and other reassessments of Eastern Arctic archeological sites suggest the Alaska-based Thule undertook an epic voyage by skin boat and dogsled -- almost directly from Alaska to Greenland, and within a few summer travelling seasons -- about 750 years ago.
...Thule Inuit archeological sites near the Cape York deposits are older than others in Canada closer to Alaska -- further suggesting an initial dash to the northeast Arctic followed by a more gradual dispersal of population groups throughout present-day Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon.
McGhee believes the Thule Inuit had learned about the valuable metal at the Cape York meteorite field from contact with Canada's aboriginal Dorset people, who were already using iron and trading it with Norse sailors from southern Greenland and Iceland.
"It would seem plausible to suggest that metal -- meteoric iron from the Cape York meteorites and metal goods traded from the Norse -- may have been the magnet that drew ancestral Inuit eastward from Alaska," McGhee contends.
(Excerpt) Read more at vancouversun.com ...
This is a handout photo of Cape York meteorite specimens outside the Geological Museum in Copenhagen. [Photograph by: Canwest News Service, Photo Handout]
Frozen Hair Yields First Ancient Human Genome
Live Science | Feb 10, 2010 | Andrea Thompson
Posted on 02/10/2010 12:57:13 PM PST by decimon
The Northern World, AD 900-1400:
Anthropology of Pacific North America
edited by Robert McGhee,
and Owen Mason
To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
Tying together these peoples as in an icy Mediterranean. That’s an amazing thesis. But why not?
Rust never sleeps.
Weird. I thought only greedy Europeans did this sort of thing...
That's why the wolves can't eat them all.
Now, consider, reindeer herders can usually always catch and kill a reindeer. Not that it's all that easy, but some of these guys can just walk up to a herd eating peacefully, grab a reindeer, kill it and drag off the carcase without disturbing the others. Or, they send in a "pet reindeer" who brings back a friend who is then slaughtered.
Sometimes they have to chase them down from skis.
Obvious reindeer herders can travel immense distances quite rapidly.
So, what about Eskimos? Well, given their linguistic and genetic relationship to the Yakuts/Sakha people back in NE Siberia, I'd suspect they followed the same lifestyle some time in the distant past ~ and that would have been as reindeer herders and hunters.
These people also had domesticated dogs to assist them.
The question is really how fast could a bunch of Inuit Eskimos make it from roughly Bethel Alaska to just across from Baffin Island at York Greenland.
Taking 14 days to go 1000 miles, it seems to me a bunch of Eskimos could probably get there in under 2 months, and probably faster (using the Iditorod as a rough guide, but noting the Eskimos were probably much tougher than today's race entrants).
The Sa'ami and Norse were using skis in the 1200s (with the Sa'ami using them for thousands of years by that time). It's conceivable that the Alaskan Eskimos traveling to Greenland to get iron ALSO knew about skis.
With skis it's likely the Eskimo made it from Alaska to Greenland in just a few weeks ~ not several seasons.
"Not to worry, mates; we have all summer, ample seals to hunt and there are no brown bears on the ice."
Could be ~ and once the Arctic froze over, all the “white” brown bears (Polar Bears) would be safely out in the Arctic Ocean looking for seal meat.
With the occasional passing Siberian as an appetizer.
My pleasure. :’)
Mentioned in this article is the “Dorset People”, who were the people archeologists say were spread across Eastern Canada and northern Greenland before the ancestors (the Thule) of the present Innuit peoples.
Archeologists say that what they find about the Dorset people is (a)they were totally adapted to the frozen arctic life in Eastern Canada (from about 500 B.C. to about 800 A.D.) and had built their lifestyle on the type of hunting those conditions provided and (b)their presence in Canada seems to have ended in a very short period of time, at a time, 800-1000 A.D., when local conditions had become much, much warmer. Archeologists speculate that the changes wrought by the warmer conditions and an inability of the Dorset people to adapt to them, may have led to their decline.
But, my question is: What kind of fuel were the Norse using in their SUV’s at the time, to make the “Greenhouse” affect so great from “Greenland” to Eastern Canada - which is when the Norse started arriving there??? /sarc
rich supply of iron from a massive meteorite strike on Greenland's west coast
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The book’s author has an earlier title listed on Amazon, it’s about the Dorsets, but I don’t remember if it’s still available. Seems like it would have been a big seller. ;’)
What's the big mystery? Didn't the Dorsets use the iron to pay the Vikings for passage to Britain, then migrate to a particular area of England, now called Dorsetshire, and become sheep herders? There's even a breed named for them.
The World Largest Piece of Cape York Agpalilik Meteorite at JOGS Gem Show
Meteorites are meteors that reach the surface of the earth without having disintegrated. The Cape York Meteorite, which comes from the center of a small planet that was broken apart, is a type known as an iron meteorite; it is composed of metallic iron and nickel, similar to the metallic core at the center of the earth.
The Cape York Meteorite Shower, named for the site in Greenland at which it collided with the earth some 10 thousand years ago - is 4 1/2 billion years old and was exposed approx 93 million years to cosmic rays, before separating from its planetary mother body. It is the largest meteorite shower known and the classic of all meteorites.
Cape York or Kap York is situated at the northwest coast of Greenland about 65 miles south of Uummannaq at the Buffin Bay. Besides of the Agpalilik, 11 large parts where found since the famous Arctic explorer Robert Peary discovered the first piece in 1894.
It took Peary three years to manage to load the pieces onto ships and required the building of Greenland's only railway. These pieces where sold to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where they still stand.
Five previous expeditions between 1818, when the Greenlandic meteorite field came to be known, and 1883 failed to find parts of the Cape York Meteorite shower. In summer 1963, the fourth major piece of the Cape York meteorite, the Agpalilik, was discovered by Dr. Vagn Buchwald from Copenhagen.
Agpalilik Peninsula where the Agpalilik was found, is located 75 miles southeast of Thule and 10 miles north of the Savigsivik settlement;
The Agpalilik meteorite, also known as the Man, weighs around 20 tons and currently resides in the Geological Museum of the University of Copenhagen. Other smaller pieces have also been found, such as the 3 ton Savik I meteorite in 1911, the 48 kg Thule meteorite in 1955, the 7.8 kg Savik II in 1961, and the 250 kg Tunorput fragment in 1984.
The Agpalilik represents a medium Octahedrite III AB iron meteorite and consist of 91% Iron, 7,58% Nickel, 19,2 ppm (10-6) Gallium, 36,0 ppm Germanium and 5,0 ppm Iridium.
The displayed piece of Agpalilik at the J.O.G.S. Show is a solid core piece with wonderful Troilite inclusions with a weight of 100kg.
fascinating article, thanks.
They didn’t use skis, but Kayaks.
If you know anything about the area, it’s a maritime culture, not a land culture.
The most logical trail across the North Country to Greenland goes right through the heart of where the Polar Bears live AND EAT during the warm months.
The Inuit at that time, according to archaeological evidence, generally kept within 50 miles of the coast wherever they went in any case ~ their technology having its best effect in that zone.
They'd have had kayaks for water crossings if they encountered any, but also sleds with dog teams ~ hundreds of dogs!
I'm talking about this trip being taken in winter, or late Fall, overland. The conditions wouldn't have been as rugged as other's encountered centuries later in Antarctica, and dog teams in the hands of Eskimos would have worked quite well.
See the info in the following link:
and the only thing that stands out in that info that makes any plausible link to your theory, is the date 940 A.D. as the period in which the place Dorcester obtained it’s name, and that date was during a period of Norwegian and Danish inroads into the demographics of the British Isles.
If there are more direct links, I haven’t found them.
Maybe what is common about “Dorset” has to do with how, in the English language experience, the ancient people of Eastern Canada were given that name, and not those ancient people themselves.
“Sure, right, kayak’s the whole way ~ NOT! We are talking over 3,000 miles, and although those kayak’s are quite handy for getting out there to nail some seals they are at risk of being attacked by POLAR BEARS.”
Yes, kayaks the whole way, West to East in the summer months. They would not have travelled overland, not with dogsleds and all.
It’s far easier to transport things via sea than land, the reason for the Itaridod is because it was an inland town. Had they been on the sea, they simply would have travelled via the coast.
“The most logical trail across the North Country to Greenland goes right through the heart of where the Polar Bears live AND EAT during the warm months.”
It makes no sense to go overland. Looking at the geography, taking the passage west to east would have been much easier.
You have to remember that the Inuit past the Coppermine river would have had to fight the other native tribes along the coast, all of whom were hostile.
“The Inuit at that time, according to archaeological evidence, generally kept within 50 miles of the coast wherever they went in any case ~ their technology having its best effect in that zone.”
Yes, this is true, but also because of hostile enemies inland. They had the advantage along the coast, and would have travelled via kayak. Easier to float and hunt.
“I’m talking about this trip being taken in winter, or late Fall, overland.”
Absolutely without question it would not have happened this way. They would have travelled in the summer, from May to September, West to East, stopping when the ice blocked the channel. They would have left as soon as the ice opened up.
Sailing West to East takes longer, and at least several seasons, due to the fact that the West is the last to melt, and the east the first to freeze up.
“The conditions wouldn’t have been as rugged as other’s encountered centuries later in Antarctica, and dog teams in the hands of Eskimos would have worked quite well.”
Erm, Antarctic conditions are nowhere similar to that in the Arctic Archipelago.
Remember, there's the trip back home.
You put entirely too much faith in late Neolithic/early Ironage people spending 8 full years sweating brown bears and polar bears just to pick up some hunks of iron.
Think of it as a question of survival. If everyone around you has Iron, and you don’t, you are going to get destroyed.
The idea of taking a dogsled from Alaska, all the way over the Mountains, across the Rivers, etc, doesn’t make any sense to me, not with hostile native tribes who already live there.
Yeah, 4 years is a long time, but more sensible then 6 weeks.
What trip back home? They relocated to stay.
We can take a look at the MtDNA in their hair to see how many mommies they had ~ bet it's a bunch.
They didn't take women on a 4 year, potentially 8 year round trip journey ~ 'cause babies arrive in 9 months. They took women on a 2 month trip in winter to stay.
It is commonly the case that upper Neolithic peoples have a basic division of labor, and life. The women, children and elderly stay in a village setting year round, and perform duties associated with "gathering" or "preparing". The men are in the village as a base of operations from Mid Spring to Early Fall. Otherwise they are ON THE LONG MARCH hunting for a living. The Iroquois carried this to the extreme of selecting new brides and husbands upon their return. No divorce in their system!
The first Eskimos into Greenland were on a long march ~ hunting for things to eat, plus they may have heard from others of what could be found there. I can't imagine why the men would abandon their familys in Summer.
Geeze, lighten up. I’s just a shaggy sheep story, that tried to pull the wool over a few eyes. It is called “humor”.
...and it’s at least as sound a “theory” as Gorebull Warming.
“There were certainly settlers, but it’s dollars to doughnuts some of them went back home ~ with good news if nothing else.”
Where is home?
“They didn’t take women on a 4 year, potentially 8 year round trip journey ~ ‘cause babies arrive in 9 months. They took women on a 2 month trip in winter to stay.”
They sure did take them along. Everyone went. Look, I’m trying to explain why you can’t sled from Alaska to Greenland. It just doesn’t work, and they would have been killed by other native tribes.
“It is commonly the case that upper Neolithic peoples have a basic division of labor, and life.”
Neolithic? This is in 1000 AD or thereabouts. The Inuit are not neolithic people.
“The Iroquois carried this to the extreme of selecting new brides and husbands upon their return. No divorce in their system!”
The Iroquois are very, very different from the Inuit. Night and day. Why would Iroquois practices have anything to do with the Inuit?
“The first Eskimos into Greenland were on a long march ~ unting for things to eat, plus they may have heard from others of what could be found there. I can’t imagine why the men would abandon their familys in Summer.”
That’s because they brought them along for the trip.
Why don’t you go to google, and count the mountain ranges between northern Alaska and Greenland along the Arctic coast. It just isn’t feasible to dog sled.
The "other natives" are there anyway. Probably best to slip past them during the winter when they're holed up than in the Summer when they're out there grabbing stuff to store up for winter.
BTW, Neolithic is a level of cultural and tool development. You had people using Iron in some places, others still using bronze, and yet others deep into stone.
“Resourceful people can abandon their sleds, pack their stuff OVER the mountains (or go on coastal ice where the landscape is otherwise impassible), and build new sleds.”
Or they can sail their umiaks along the coast. Far easier.
“Probably best to slip past them during the winter when they’re holed up than in the Summer when they’re out there grabbing stuff to store up for winter.”
Are you aware of temperature conditions in the winter? You’re looking at -25 F for 6 months of the year. On average. Many lows in the -40s. This is just for the immediate coastal areas. Up the mountains would be even colder in the interior.
Summers you would see around +5.
If you sail the natives in the interior can’t catch you, you are too fast for them, and you can hunt. Keep the women or children in the big boats, and keep your supplies.
The inuit primarily eat seal and whale, anything they can catch along the coast and the ice. I know this is hard for us landlubbers to understand but they preferred to sail. It’s only been very, very recently that it’s easier to ship things via land than it is by sea, maybe in the last 150 years.
Sorry, highs of 40 degrees or so.
-50 F ain't no thang!
If you'd watch the last Iditorod you'd discovered that the sled dogs of the North can do much better than -50 F, and some white folk, only partially adapted to such temperatures, can at least survive it provided they have some degree of shelter ~ and plenty of spare dogs!
It isn't constantly cold all winter long ~ it comes in bursts and waves. You travel in between the really cold periods.
Sir, I live in the north. Adapted or not, no one moves if they can avoid doing so in the winter.
Worst part about it is when you need to do something outdoors ~ like chop wood, saw boards ~ and you get all warmed up and it's coming down ~ it kind of stings bare skin if it gets heavy ~ and then it melts and gets your trousers wet.
Sometimes I have to put a T-shirt on.
I recall this time in the Army when we were going to do a "river crossing" exercise. The river had frozen over and was several inches thick. The command asked for someone to go out there and jump up and down and break the ice so folks could maneuver the boats and equipment.
Well I stepped right out ~ and this long line of guys actually did kind of step back.
Took me about 15 minutes of jumping up and down and breaking up the ice. You'd hear this low moan coming from the other soldiers as I climbed up on another section of ice and got it broken.
Eskimos are certainly as well adapted.
Well I’m just saying, it makes sense to me. Sail in the summer, when the ice breaks up and melts. You’ve got the best boats. Stay where you are in the winter. It’s far easier to travel in summer then winter, don’t you agree?
Geeze, usually when we want to say something “humorous” in a sarcastic way (pretending to be serious), we had /sarc at the end.
There are enough dum-bells on here that one never knows, otherwise.
But, if you want your humor to continue to be taken seriously, then, by all means, continue to leave it out.
It’s much easier to travel when the polar bears aren’t in the area.
Polar bears are like meat on a stick.
Hmm, I’d always been taught that “when it’s time” jus leave grandma on the icea and God will be along soon to take her.
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