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At the edge: High Arctic Walrus hunters during the Little Ice Age

  • Bjarne Grønnow (a1), Hans Christian Gulløv (a1), Bjarne Holm Jakobsen (a2), Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen (a3), Laura Hauch Kauffmann (a2), Aart Kroon (a2), Jørn Bjarke Torp Pedersen (a2) and Mikkel Sørensen (a4)...

Extract

A multi-disciplinary study of settlement in north-east Greenland found that life in this High Arctic zone was actually favoured by the climate brought in by the Little Ice Age (fifteenth–nineteenth century). Extensive ice cover meant high mobility, and the rare polynyas — small patches of permanently open coastal water — provided destinations, like oases, where huge numbers of migrating marine mammals and birds congregated. One such place was Walrus Island on Sirius Water, a veritable processing plant for walrus, where every spring Thule people stocked up meat supplies that would get the rest of the region through the winter. It was a further drop in the temperature in the mid nineteenth century that led to the region being abandoned.

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