20 June 2008

Assimilation Between Greenland Norse and Arctic Natives?

Some of the many unanswered questions about the Greenland Norse: did they assimilate with the natives of the Canadian Arctic?

If so, when and with whom?

We can never know for certain, but by about 1425 all had disappeared from the Greenland settlements. As I have mentioned previously, they were not seen again. They disappeared: no bodies, no ships, no tools, nothing related to them has ever been found.

Two distinct Arctic native cultures are involved with the Greenland Norse, the Dorset, or Tuniit people, and later in about the 13th century, the Thule, or Inuit people migrating from what is now the western Canadian Arctic regions.

In support of my contention that a gradual process of assimilation with these native cultures of the Arctic. and the natives of North America, began early in the history of the Greenland Norse settlements I make reference to numerous Norse artifacts found in medieval Thule dwelling sites on the east coast of Ellesmere Island and Skraeling Island, at the head of Alexandra Fjord on Ellesmere's east coast.

I do not mean the odd spindle whorl, ship rivet, broken needle fragment, or a couple links of chain mail. There are too, many artifacts to list here: a complete carpenters plane, iron wedge, ship rivets, knife and spear blades, wool wadmal cloth, numerous pieces of chain mail(all thought to have a common origin), odd gaming pieces, and so forth. These artifacts have been carbon dated to the mid-13th century.
Ellesmere - Vikings in the Far North, Peter Schledermann, 1977-1980. Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, William Fitzhugh and Elizabeth Ward, (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 2000)248-256.

So, the answer to the question is obvious. The Greenland Norse did regularly contact the native peoples of the Arctic and that contact was prolonged and intimate, because the artifacts were found in Thule house ruins.

Those particular Norse people had already assimilated.

1 comment:

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