Norse-Inuit interaction and landscape change in southern Greenland? A geochronological, pedological and palynological investigation

Kirsty A Golding, Ian A Simpson, J. Edward Schofield, Kevin John Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ruins representing both medieval Norse and Inuit (Thule culture) settlements can be found together on the coast at Sandhavn (59°59' N, 44°46' W), Greenland. The site presents a rare opportunity to investigate the character of past contact and interaction between these two peoples. Soils-based, radiocarbon, and palynological analyses demonstrate the creation of hortic anthrosols within Norse home-fields used between the mid-11th and late 14th centuries A.D. Irrigation channels have been identified within the home-fields, while rising grass pollen influx reveals intensification in hay production over the period ca. A.D. 1260–1350 despite climatic deterioration setting in around this time. Floor deposits and wall packing from an Inuit winter house returned dates of cal. A.D. 1220–1290 (2s), yet no direct landscape-based evidence for Inuit activity could be determined. Although the exact nature of the relationship between Norse and Thule at Sandhavn remains unclear, the role of this site as a harbor and possible trading area may have attracted Inuit settlers keen to participate in European trade networks. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-345
Number of pages31
JournalGeoarchaeology-An International Journal
Volume26
Issue number3
Early online date12 Apr 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

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