Eagle Hill Masthead

Journal of the North Altantic

    Aim and Scope
    Board of Editors
    Editorial Workflow
    Publication Charges

Co-published Journals
    Northeastern Naturalist
    Southeastern Naturalist
    Caribbean Naturalist
    Neotropical Naturalist
    Urban Naturalist
    Eastern Paleontologist
    Eastern Biologist

Eagle Hill Institute

About Journal of the North Atlantic


The Nature of Contact between Native Greenlanders and Norse
Hans Christian Gulløv

Journal of the North Atlantic, Volume 1 (2008): 16–24

Full-text pdf (Accessible only to subscribers.To subscribe click here.)

JONA Vol. 1 abstract page


Site by Bennett Web & Design Co.
16 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 The Nature of Contact between Native Greenlanders and Norse Hans Christian Gulløv* Abstract - Recent archaeology has introduced a new people into the scenario of 13th-century Greenland – the Dorset people of the Paleo-Eskimo tradition. These people were encountered by Norse hunters who travelled northwards on their hunting forays, as described in Historia Norvegiae, which recounts contact with the so-called Skrælíngja. The question of who these Skrælíngja were has been discussed since the discovery of the source in the late 19th century. It has been proposed that they were the Inuit of the Thule culture. We now know that three different cultures—Paleo-Eskimo, Inuit, and Europeans—impacted on the development of Greenland’s history in the fi rst half of the second millennium AD. This paper addresses issues of interactions between them. *The Greenland Research Centre, National Museum of Denmark, Frederiksholms Kanal 12, DK-1220 Copenhagen K, Denmark; hans.christian.gulloev@natmus.dk. Norse Objects Farthest North “I found, however, also objects which in the beginning puzzled me, things which did not seem to fi t into the context. They didn’t look like Eskimo tools … But one day I found the clue to the mystery: among all the blubber, a peculiar and ingeniously made comb appeared; one that I recognized. There was no doubt; it dated back to the old Norse. Norse objects and Eskimo artistic masterpieces of carvings as far north as humans have ever lived. What more can an archaeologist ask for? And just imagine if we had not found Avôrtúngiaq’s little lost island! The mere thought of it made a cold shiver run down my back. But the problem was by no means solved with this surprising discovery, for how on earth did the objects get here? Was I facing the dramatic event, that the Norse themselves had travelled all the way up to the Thule district, perhaps for bear hunting? It was a captivating thought and not quite without probability; but to substantiate it I should also like to fi nd the ship that had brought them here. An archaeologist had better keep both feet on the ground, and there was also the more trite possibility that the Eskimos themselves had brought or bought the exotic objects from more southern regions in Greenland. For the time being I took this to be the most probable explanation, even if it required some effort; but my work in this remote and desolate corner of the world had nevertheless found a wider perspective” (Holtved 1942:170–171; H.C. Gulløv translation). It took the eskimologist Erik Holtved by surprise when, in 1936, he excavated six ruins on Ruin Island off the coast of Inglefi eld Land, and found Norse objects more than 2000 kilometres north of the Western Settlement of Greenland. The investigations on the small island, which Avôrtúngiaq had found in 1917 as a member of Knud Rasmussen’s Second Thule Expedition and had mentioned to Holtved, added a new chapter to the prehistory of Greenland. Around 1300 AD, the island had been settled by Eskimo whalers, and among the hunting equipment found there were objects similar to types from the Punuk culture—a Neo-Eskimo culture existing around the Bering Strait in the period 500 to 1500 AD. From here, the culture’s elements spread eastwards with the new settlers to the Smith Sound region, where it is now known as the Ruin Island phase of the Thule culture (Holtved 1944, II:149–156). Holtved’s discovery raised the question of whether the Norse had been this far north. He himself believed the possibility, but without any traces of ships, he had to conclude that the Norse objects (Fig. 1) had been brought to the Thule district from southerly regions by the Eskimos themselves. Holtved continued his investigations in the subsequent decade, and his new fi ndings of remains from the Ruin Island phase increased their geographical distribution to cover the whole district. However the extensive material recovered provided no further evidence to renew discussions of the Norse presence (Holtved 1954). Three decades later, Canadian archaeologists again raised the question. This renewed interest occurred in connection with major fi eld campaigns on Figure 1. Comb, spoon case, draughtsman, and chessman. Norse objects from the Thule District. Length of spoon case = 26.5 cm. 2008 Journal of the North Atlantic 1:16–24 2008 H.C. Gulløv 17 the west coast of Smith Sound, where several house ruins of the Ruin Island type were excavated and dated to the 13th and 14th centuries. Several Norse objects were found in these sites, and the remains on Holtved’s isolated Ruin Island off the northern coast of the Thule district could now be connected with the settlements on Ellesmere Island (McCullough 1989). The recovery of iron rivets, interpreted as ship rivets, led the Canadian archaeologists to advance the theory that one or more ships had been icebound in High Arctic waters and had supplied local natives with metal and other exotic objects. Among fi nds of Norse origin were fragments of woolen cloth, of which similar pieces were also found on Ruin Island, which could be the remains of sails. Holtved’s Ruin Island phase now comprises an archaeological assemblage that represents an early period of the Thule culture in High Arctic Canada and Greenland. Canadian archaeologists name the humans of the period The Ruin Islanders, assuming they represent early Thule culture pioneers. It is these newcomers that both Holtved and later researchers consider when focusing on possible contact between Norse and Native Greenlanders. However, it is striking that many objects from the Ruin Island phase exist in an almost unchanged form from their distant prototypes around the Bering Strait; further, lamps and pots made of clay, a material that in the Eastern Arctic is unsuitable for pottery, were transported all the way eastward unbroken. These circumstances suggest that the journey from Alaska through the Canadian archipelago took place during a short period, and that rumors of the availability of metals in the eastern Arctic provided the motive for the initial eastward movement of the so-called ancestral Inuit pioneers (Gulløv and McGhee 2006:56). New Agents Thus arose the theory of a third agent who could have prepared the way for the Neo-Eskimo pioneers, and researchers now turned their attention to the Paleo-Eskimo population in the Central and Eastern Arctic (Gulløv and McGhee 2006; McGhee 2000; Park 2008; Sutherland 2000, 2005). These people belonged to the so-called Dorset culture, the latest among the long line of Paleo- Eskimo cultures well known from the Smith Sound region, where dwellings from the terminal phase of the Dorset culture have been excavated. On the Greenland side of the sound, investigations carried out in the 1990s showed that a winter site, dating to the latest phase of the culture, consisted of five to six dwellings with a quadratic ground plan. The site also included a nearby rectangular megalithic structure with walls constructed of boulders, and with a row of hearths through its mid-axis, which is interpreted as a building constructed for shamanistic purposes. Today, three such megalithic structures have been identified in Greenland, where they seem to have been used up to 1200 AD, while some of the dwellings were still inhabited around 1300 AD (Appelt and Gulløv 1999). Table 1. Radiocarbon dates associated with Late Dorset and Early Thule components from 11 sites in the Smith Sound region, including Melville Bay and Washington Land, calibrated using OxCal v3.4 (Ramsey 2001, Stuiver et al. 1998) and shown with 1 st. dev. (cf. Gulløv and McGhee 2006:57). C14 age 1 σ range, Lab. No. Locality Component and culture Material years BP years AD AAR-7466 Washington Land, Torvegade Fjord Structure 2, Late Dorset, 1st episode Muskox bone 820 ± 40 1225–1280 AAR-7467 Washington Land, Torvegade Fjord Structure 2, Late Dorset, 2nd episode Muskox bone 654 ± 36 1295–1390 K-4256 Washington Land, Cape Buddington Dwelling, Late Dorset Arctic hare bone 690 ± 65 1270–1400 AAR-3219 Inglefi eld Land, Qeqertaaraq Structure 4, House, Late Dorset Arctic hare bone 770 ± 40 1220–1285 KIA-17726 Inglefi eld Land, Qeqertaaraq Structure 4, House, Late Dorset; Antler 891 ± 29 1040–1220 Arrowhead, Early Thule K-6708 Inglefi eld Land, Qeqertaaraq Structure 161, House, Late Dorset Charcoal, Salix sp. 711 ± 43 1260–1390 KIA-16942 Inglefi eld Land, Cape Kent House 4, Early Thule Muskox horn 892 ± 36 1040–1210 K-4469 Inglefi eld Land, Cape Kent House 2, Early Thule Antler 640 ± 50 1295–1395 K-1489 Inglefi eld Land, Ruin Island House 6, Ruin Island phase; Cloth, Woollen cloth 680 ± 100 1260–1410 Norse culture AAR-3233 Inglefi eld Land, Qeqertaaraq Structure 294, House, Early Thule Caribou bone 640 ± 50 1295–1395 AAR-7370 Inglefi eld Land, Inuarfi ssuaq House 8, Post Ruin Island Antler 431 ± 38 1430–1485 KIA-16936 Steensby Land, Nuulliit House 29, Ruin Island phase Muskox horn 884 ± 25 1060–1090 KIA-16941 Steensby Land, Nuulliit House 29, Ruin Island phase Muskox horn 724 ± 20 1277–1293 KIA-16938 Melville Bay, Cape Seddon House 11, Ruin Island phase Antler 558 ± 38 1320–1425 GSC-3003 Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island House 22, Ruin Island phase Heather 830 ± 50 1160–1410 GSC-3156 Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island House 21, Ruin Island phase Heather 660 ± 60 1280–1400 GSC-3059 Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island House 15, Ruin Island phase Heather 580 ± 50 1300–1410 GSC-3038 Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island House 15, Ruin Island phase; Cloth, Woolen cloth 700 ± 50 1260–1400 Norse culture GSC-3396 Ellesmere Island, Eskimo Site House 25, Ruin Island phase Heather 760 ± 70 1190–1300 GSC-3561 Ellesmere Island, Sverdrup Site House 6, Ruin Island phase Heather 620 ± 50 1300–1400 18 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 Among the abundant artifact materials, including delicate and diminutive Dorset carvings in walrus ivory, were considerable amounts of meteoric iron derived from the source near Cape York, approximately 400 kilometres further south. Finally, a fragment of a brass pot of Norse origin was found, of a type produced in Northern Europe before 1300 AD. Thule culture objects were also found, including an antler arrowhead found in one of the excavated ruins and dated to the 12th century (Table 1). From the archaeological material described, three ethnic groups have now been identified in the High Arctic Smith Sound region: the Neo- Eskimo Thule culture that appeared in the second half of the 12th century as the Ruin Islanders; the Paleo-Eskimo Dorset culture, still apparently present in the 14th century; and the Norse, represented by objects from the 13th and 14th centuries and found in the remains of dwellings from both Native cultures. Greenland Resources The Norse objects alone cannot support the inference that the Norse were present in this far northern region (Fig. 2). Further evidence must be sought in the archaeological evidence, and particularly that which relates to the Dorset culture since these people were present in the region long before the other ethnic groups appeared. The Dorset people seem to have lacked the complex dog traction technology that characterized later Eskimo cultures, and are consequently presumed to have been less mobile. As Late Dorset sites have not yet been found in West Greenland, we may assume that Norse objects from Dorset winter dwellings, including the fragment of a brass pot, are evidence that direct contact occurred in the far north at least once during the 13th century. Fox bones make up more than one third of the terrestrial faunal material identifi ed from these Dorset sites (Bendix 2000), stressing the importance of fox as a valued resource. As many as 500 years would pass before a similar importance of foxes was reported in association with European demand for fox skins in the 18th century (Gulløv 1997:404). The importance of fox skins in Dorset technology is not known, but the high proportion of fox bones indicates that they were valued by the Dorset people at these sites. Walrus bones make up just under one third of Figure 2. Eskimo sites with Norse objects. Red circles are 13th- and 14th-century sites. Black circles are 15th- and 16th-century sites.Norse topographical names are mentioned. 2008 H.C. Gulløv 19 the identifi ed mammalian faunal material, and are assumed to represent a large amount of meat (Bendix 2000:78–80). It is therefore probable that, as in other areas of the Eastern Arctic, walrus was an important, and perhaps the most important, prey for the Dorset people (Murray 1999). Arctic ivory was much coveted in Norse society, and the more prosperous Greenlandic farmers organized hunting expeditions north of the settlements in order to obtain a share of this resource. Walrus were found in two populations (Muus et al. 1981:407): one on the central west coast around 67º N, where the West Ice from Canada reached the Greenland coast and where the Neo-Eskimos fi rst settled in the 14th century; and the second north of Melville Bay, which was apparently not crossed by the Natives of the Smith Sound region until the 13th century. More that 250 years passed between the Norse landnám and the fi rst report that hunters met other peoples in western Greenland. However, it is possible that before this time the Norse may have discovered the rich hunting grounds of the far northern Thule district. Evidence in support of this possibility may be derived from identifying the contemporaneous Paleo-Eskimo Dorset people and the Neo-Eskimos who arrived around 1200 AD, as active agents in engagement with the Norse. Trade and Exchange The archaeological material from the 13th and 14th centuries, including Norse objects found in Eskimo ruins and Eskimo objects found in Norse farms, represents closer or more frequent contact between the two ethnic groups. The question of where and how such a relationship occurred is linked to a well-founded assumption that contact formed the basis for some sort of exchange profi table to both parties. To get a better understanding of this question, I fi rst evaluate the character of the objects found and then look at the ethnic groups in their geographical contexts. It is obvious that the meaning of an object changes its character when forming a part of a new cultural context different from its original one. The Norse chessmen found in the Neo-Eskimo Ruin Island phase (Fig. 1) can be mentioned as an example, as chess has never existed among prehistoric Arctic cultures; another example is the side prong of a Neo-Eskimo bird dart found in a farm in the Norse Eastern Settlement (Fig. 3), in a culture that never used such a hunting implement (Gulløv 2004:284, 317). On such occasions, the meaning of the object changes from utility value to symbolic value, a fact that is documented in written sources from 17th- and 18th-century West Greenland, when European whalers and merchants appeared and became involved in the activities of traditional internal Eskimo trading partnerships. The meaning of trade goods, such as copper pots which were soon realized to be useless compared with soapstone pots, subsequently changed to become objects expressing prestige. Thus, trading partnerships became part of an economic institution suitable for a direct analogy to the situation 300 years earlier (Gulløv 1997:402). The contact between Native Greenlanders and Norse society can be described primarily in economic terms, including the exchange of goods of both symbolic value and utility value. Items of symbolic value serve to confirm the trading partnership, and can subsequently serve as amulets. We have an example of that kind of use in the piece of 13th-century Norse oak inserted in the gunwale of a 15th-century umiaq found in Peary land. The use of amulets in vessels to secure against capsizing has analogies in ethnography from both West and East Greenland (Gulløv 1997:433). The second value may relate to the direct use of the objects exchanged, in particular when metals were in demand, metals are often to be found Figure 3. Side prong of antler for a bird dart. Length = 14 cm. From a Norse farm in the Eastern Settlement. Marlin spike of walrus tusk. Length = 17.5 cm. From a Norse farm in the Western Settlement. Both dated to the 14th century. 20 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 among Norse objects in Eskimo contexts (cf. Gulløv 1997:429). Meteoric iron was also included in the exchange, and a weapon point made from this material was found in a Norse farm in the Western Settlement dated to the 14th century (Buchwald 2001:59). Other fi nds of Eskimo origin found in the settlement include a marline spike of walrus tusk ornamented in Neo-Eskimo style, but with the suspension hole cut in Paleo-Eskimo style (Fig. 3). Finds with mixed cultural characteristics were also excavated in the Smith Sound region where the two Native cultures coexisted for a period of approximately 150 years, providing an opportunity for the acculturation seen in tools and hunting implements (Gulløv 1997:448, 2004:294). Metals of Norse origin—i.e., iron, copper, and brass—have been found at several sites in the Eastern Arctic, but the greatest number are from Eskimo sites on the western side of Greenland and northwards to Smith Sound and Ellesmere Island. The regional distribution shows a signifi cant occurrence in the north, but a larger amount in South Greenland, where it derives from post-Norse Inuit settlements when the picking or digging up of objects from abandoned Norse farms constituted the basis for an interregional trade in metals, including bell metal (Table 2). The regional distribution of Norse materials in Early Thule culture sites, including those of the Ruin Island phase, that is during the period 1200–1400 AD when the Norse settlements still existed, supports the assumption of an early interest in metals brought northwards to the Smith Sound region. Although the numerous metal pieces found may be fragments, which have not all been analysed, they make up a considerable number (Table 3). These fi nds may be compared with those from 17th-and 18th-century Inuit ruins in the Nuuk district when contact with Europeans was very prominent, especially after the Danish-Norwegian colonization in 1721. The Nuuk sites yielded 956 objects of European origin, among which metals make up 218 objects or 22%. The number of European objects from Early Thule sites give us a reason to presume that the same amount of European contact might have taken place further north 400 years earlier (cf. Gulløv 1997:429). Long-Distance Journeys In the farthest north and in the southernmost part of 13th-and 14th-century Greenland, two different ethnic groups were present: the Norse and the Native Greenlanders. Encounters between the two may have taken place either through mutual visits at home settlements, at locations mid-way between their settlements, or at both. The presence of the Norse north of Melville Bay has been discussed since the fi rst fi nds of Norse origin from the Ruin Island phase appeared in the 1930s. Today, the Norse objects found in structures used by the semi-sedentary Dorset people provide strong evidence to support the possibility that the Norse did travel to the north of Melville Bay. Furthermore, recent excaminations of the pieces of woven woolen cloth, originally fragments of sails, found in the ruins of the Ruin Island phase (see Table 1), stress the importance of discarded sails used for tent covers (Østergård 2003: 118). Norse hunters, during their long journeys two thousand nautical miles north of the settlements, had to camp for shorter or longer periods depending on weather, wind, and the loading of supplies. In the 14th century, the Neo-Eskimos expanded their winter sites into West Greenland and reached Disko Bay, a region rich in resources that was also in the Norse sphere of interest and well known according to a Norse topographical report. This report describes the localities north of the settlements, and the place names of several localities can be identifi ed (Fig. 2). Greipar is the coast around 67º N where the walrus came on land; Karlsbðir was also located in that area. Bjarney, known today as Disko Island, was situated further north. Króksfjörðr, i.e., the crooked fjord, may be Vaigat Sound between Disko Bay and the open sea. On both sides of Vaigat, one fi nds the landscape Króksfjarðarheiði, i.e., the fl at and waste heath by the crooked fjord, which describes the fl attopped mountains of horizontally bedded rock on Disko Island and Vaigat Sound to the north. Here lies Eysunes, which means the glowing or smouldering peninsula. This name refers to the coal- and Table 2. Norse objects (total and metals, with bell metal in parenthesis) found in a Neo-Eskimo context on the western side of Greenland, including both sides of Smith Sound. In addition, the distribution of the so-called Norse dolls is shown, i.e., carvings made by Neo-Eskimos (cf. Gulløv 1997:427–429). # of Norse objects Percent Norse Region Total Metals metals dolls South Greenland 57 33 (10) 58 - South West Greenland 38 14 (11) 37 1 Disko Bay 17 7 41 1 North West Greenland 5 3 (3) 60 6 Melville Bay 5 5 100 - Thule District 30 19 63 1 Ellesmere Island 93 86 93 - Total region 245 167 (24) 68 9 Table 3. Norse objects from the early Thule culture including the Ruin Island phase, i.e., 1200–1400 AD (Gulløv 1997). # of Norse objects Percent Region Total Metals metals Sermermiut, Disko Bay 7 2 29 Melville Bay 5 5 100 Thule District, Ruin Island phase 12 8 67 Ellesmere Island, Ruin Island phase 87 81 93 Total region 111 96 87 2008 H.C. Gulløv 21 oil-bearing slate strata on the Nuussuaq Peninsula, which combust when there are rock-falls. From Disko Bay, where the Norse hunters had their booths or huts, the hunting trips headed north to Norðrsetur, i.e., the northern hunting grounds, passing Snæfelli near Svartenhuk and continuing into the Hafsbotn, or Melville Bay (Gulløv 1997:432, 2000a, b). The northern hunting grounds and Disko Bay were the most plausible localities at which the Norse met the Native Greenlanders. Eskimo fi gurines, representing the Norse in their characteristic garments, were found in this region (see Table 2), and some of these are rendered in so much detail that they may have been carved from live observation (Fig. 4). Among those are fi gurines representing Norse women, whom the Native Greenlanders may have met during visits further south, as it is unlikely that they had seen them so far north. From recent excavations carried out in the Herjólfsnes region in the southernmost part of the Eastern Settlement, we now know that such visits took place. Eskimo summer dwellings are found on some sites, one even close to and in front of a large farm, and dates for both the Eskimo and Norse structures demonstrates their use in the second half of the 14th century. These dates also indicate that the Herjólfsnes graveyard was still in use during the fi rst half of the 15th century (Arneborg 1996a, Gulløv 2004:316). Today, we can maintain that contacts between the different ethnic groups may have taken place at various localities along the western coasts of Greenland, from where objects had been carried home to both Eskimo and Norse settlements. Among the Eskimo objects found in Norse farms, some date to the Ruin Island phase. These were either taken to the farms by the hunters from Disko Bay or Norðrsetur, or could also be goods from Inuit visits in the Norse homeland during summer trips. It is assumed that the purpose of contact was the direct exchange of metals for walrus tusks and narwhal teeth, and that this primarily occurred in the far north where the Norse had long been active. Here we fi nd the so-called Bear Trap, a solid stone construction on the western point of Nuussuaq Peninsula marking the beginning of Norðrsetur, and which has been convincingly interpreted as a Norse storehouse erected in the 13th century for walrus tusks and narwhal teeth (Meldgaard 1995). Confl ict or Peaceable Coexistence? No instance of the exchange of goods, for which we have evidence in archaeology, exists in the few written sources preserved. On the contrary, the note in Historia Norvegiae of an encounter with the Skrælíngja in the far north, reports that when they were hit with Norse weapons their wounds became white and didn’t start bleeding until they were dead, and that they Figure 4. Some of about a dozen Greenland Eskimo-made wooden fi gurines representing Norse. a. A man with separate headgear from Aasiaat, Disko Bay, 5.8 cm. b. A person, presumed to be a woman, with separate headgear (hair?), collar, and long suit, from Upernavik, 5.5 cm. c. Portrait of a Norseman from Upernavik with pronounced features, perhaps with headgear, and the pupils indicated with small pieces of black baleen, 6.3 cm. 22 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 lacked iron. The observation, probably written in the 12th century, gives us good reason to assume that the Skrælíngja mentioned may have been Paleo-Eskimo Dorset people. The next encounter noted is an attack of Skrælíngja, mentioned in the Icelandic Annals from the year 1379, when 18 Norsemen were killed and two boys enslaved. In this particular case, the Skrælíngja are Neo-Eskimos related to the Ruin Island phase (Arneborg 2004:273–275). However, there might be a specifi c reason that these two episodes are mentioned, as no similar ones are mentioned in the intervening centuries during which time the exchanged objects originated. There are several examples of episodes emphasizing confl ict in historical sources from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries when Europeans again appeared along the Greenland coasts The reason then was often concerning the enrichment of one party at the expense of the other, i.e., theft. This kind of contact often led to murder or violent confl ict, and in such cases, we have several direct analogies to the episodes involving the Norse (Arneborg 1996b, Gulløv 1997). Even though contact between the two ethnic groups is evidenced in archaeological material, and even though certain Norse types of objects—e.g., spoons, tub staves, and writing implements or socalled styli—became incorporated in Greenland’s Thule culture, nothing indicates an economic dependence between the two peoples. The contact never became formalized, as it did for example between Norse society and the Samian communities in Scandinavia (Arneborg 1996b, Gulløv 2004). Economic interdependence was precluded by the fact that the economies of the two types of societies were incompatible. All of the institutions of Norse farming society were imported from Iceland, including the placing of the church apart, and thus it was economically dependent on the North Atlantic connection. On the other hand, animistic Eskimo hunting communities were integrated parts of the Arctic environment and had an economy controlled by the right to use living and non-living resources and the establishing of trading partnerships, as can be read into the 17th- and 18th-century sources describing European barter (Arneborg 2004, Gulløv 2004). It was only through one convention that contact between the two quite different societies could have taken place, that is by establishing trading partnerships that included the exchange of both gifts and goods. From the types of exchanged objects represented in the archaeological fi nd material from the 13th and 14th centuries, a generalized and a balanced reciprocity can be faintly seen in the occurrence of gifts and goods, respectively. As far as different views of the rights of use are concerned, potential confl ict arises from the maintenance of prescriptive rights to hunting grounds common to both parties. In the Norse world view, a clear differentiation existed between the socialized “inside” and the wild “outside,” between the inhabited and uninhabited, between controlled society and unconstrained nature. To the Norse, the Skrælíngja belonged to the uninhabited, wild nature, and were not subject to “the law of payment for homicide including murder committed in the settlements or in the northern hunting grounds beneath the North Star (i.e., allt nor›r undir stjörnuna) ... where the sun no longer shines” (Arneborg 1997:45, 2004:266). This differentiation between society and nature was non-existent in the Eskimo hunting society, in which social structure and technology were integrated parts of the Arctic environment and were made known through established social relationships and contracts (Ingold 2000:290). The archaeology shows that Eskimo winter sites were established in Norse settlement areas only after the Norse settlements were abandoned, when Eskimos gained traditional rights of use of these areas. The Old Christian and Kalaallit The reasons why the Greenland Norse era ended and the settlements were abandoned arose from the interaction of several circumstances. Conditions in the local environment, in the surrounding world, and in the connection with other North Atlantic communities, changed to such an extent that the social and economic structure of the society could no longer be maintained. Those that remained chose to leave the country, and the fi nal decisions might have fi tted with both Norse and Inuit philosophies of life (Arneborg 1997). The social institutions of Norse society did not seem capable of handling encounters with the native Greenlanders, while Inuit communities, on the other hand, had rules for contacts with other groups. Therefore, the only possibility of a formalized intercourse was barter based on partnerships. This relationship explains the quantitative distribution of objects brought home, where in Inuit communities, they subsequently attained a new social and religious meaning and prestige value, while for the Norse priority was given to securing coveted commodities, primarily ivory. The theory that contacts, estimated from the quantity of excavated objects, were sporadic and opportunistic (cf. McGhee 1984:21) should not be presumed. Compared with the relatively modest amount of European objects in 18th-century Inuit contexts, when a wide-ranging barter took place, we can assume that a similar formalized economic intercourse between Norse and Native Greenlanders in the 13th and 14th centuries existed to a certain extent. In this connection, we may refer to the convincing linguistic arguments for the memory of 2008 H.C. Gulløv 23 Gulløv (Eds.). Identities and Cultural Contacts in the Arctic. Danish Polar Center Publication 8. Danish National Museum and Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. 267 pp. Buchwald, V.F. 2001. Ancient iron and slags in Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland, Man and Society 26. Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. 92 pp. Egede, Poul. 1750. Dictionarium Grönlandico-Danico- Latinum, Complectens Primitiva cum suis Derivatis, Gvibus Interjectæ sunt Voces Primariæ Kirendo Angekkutorum. G.F. Kisel, Hafniæ, Copenhagen, Denmark. 312 pp. Gulløv, H.C. 1997. From Middle Ages to Colonial Times. Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Studies of the Thule Culture in South West Greenland 1300–1800 AD. Meddelelser om Grønland, Man and Society 23. The Commission for Scientifi c Research in Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark. 501 pp. Gulløv, H.C. 2000a. The Eskimo cultures in Greenland and the Medieval Norse: A contribution to history and ethnohistory. Pp. 184–193, In I. Sigurðsson and J. Skaptason (Eds.). Aspects of Arctic and Sub-Arctic History. University of Iceland Press, Reykjavík, Iceland. 623 pp. Gulløv, H.C. 2000b. Natives and Norse in Greenland. Pp. 318–326, In W.W. Fitzhugh and E.I. Ward (Eds.). Vikings. The North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA, and London, UK. 432 pp. Gulløv, H.C. 2004. Nunarput, Vort Land—Thulekulturen 1200–1900 e.v.t. [Nunarput, Our Land—The Thule Culture 1200–1900 AD]. Pp. 281–343, In H.C. Gulløv (Ed.). Grønlands Forhistorie [Prehistory of Greenland]. Gyldendal, Copenhagen, Denmark. 434 pp. Gulløv, H.C., and R. McGhee. 2006. Did Bering Strait people initiate the Thule migration? Alaska Journal of Anthropology 4(1–2):54–63. Holtved, E. 1942. Polareskimoer [Polar Eskimos]. Carl Allers Bogforlag, Copenhagen, Denmark. 248 pp. Holtved, E. 1944. Archaeological Investigations in the Thule District, II. Meddelelser om Grønland 141(2). The Commission for Scientifi c Research in Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark. 187 pp. Holtved, E. 1954. Archaeological Investigations in the Thule District, III: Nûgdlît and Comer’s Midden. Meddelelser om Grønland 146(3). The Commission for Scientifi c Research in Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark. 135 pp. Ingold, T. 2000. The Perception of the Environment. Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling, and Skill. Routledge, London, UK, and New York, NY, USA. 465 pp. McCullough, K.M. 1989. The Ruin Islanders. Early Thule Culture Pioneers in the Eastern High Arctic. Archaeological Survey of Canada, Mercury Series, Paper 141. Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Québec, Canada. 347 pp. McGhee, R. 1984. Contact between native North Americans and the medieval Norse: A review of the evidence. American Antiquity 49(1):4–26. past intercourse, which are still extant in West Greenlandic. Here we find the old designation of a Greenlander, kalaaleq, which from an etymological point of view cannot be of Greenlandic origin, but is supposed to be derived from the Norse klæðast, i.e., those who wear (skin) clothing (Gulløv 2000b), and “they told that this designation was introduced by the old Christian, who earlier lived in their country” (Egede 1750:68). Today, the country is named Kalaallit Nunaat, which stands for “Land of the Kalaaleqs.” Acknowledgments I thank Jette Arneborg, National Museum of Denmark and Thomas H. McGovern, CUNY for reading the manuscript, and Patricia Sutherland, Canadian Museum of Civilization, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments. Thanks to Aoife Daly, Roskilde University, for linguistic comments. I thank photographer John Lee for fi gures 1 and 3, and Niels Algreen Møller for the map in fi gure 2, both with the National Museum of Denmark. The drawings shown in fi gure 4a–c are my own. Literature Cited Appelt, M., and H.C. Gulløv (Eds.). 1999. Late Dorset in High Arctic Greenland. Final Report on the Gateway to Greenland Project. Danish Polar Center Publication 7. Danish National Museum and Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. 83 pp. Arneborg, J. 1996a. Burgunderhuer, baskere og døde nordboer i Herjolfsnæs, Grønland. [Burgundian caps, Basques and dead Norsemen at Herjolfsnæs, Greenland]. Pp. 75–83, In S. Hvass (Ed.). Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark 1996. National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark. 219 pp. Arneborg, J. 1996b. Exchanges between Norsemen and Eskimos in Greenland? Pp. 11–21, In B. Jacobsen (Ed.). Essays in Honour of Robert Petersen. Cultural and Social Research in Greenland 95/96, Atuakkiorfi k, Nuuk. 332 pp. Arneborg, J. 1997. Cultural Borders: Refl ections on Norse-Eskimo interaction. Pp. 41–46, In R. Gilberg, and H.C. Gulløv (Eds.). Fifty Years of Arctic Research. Anthropological Studies From Greenland to Siberia. Publications of the National Museum, Ethnographical Series 18. National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark. 344 pp. Arneborg, J. 2004. Det europæiske landnam—Nordboerne i Grønland, 985–1450 e.v.t. [The European Landnam—The Norse in Greenland, 985–1450 AD]. Pp. 219–278, In H.C. Gulløv (Ed.). Grønlands Forhistorie [Prehistory of Greenland]. Gyldendal, Copenhagen, Denmark. 434 pp. Bendix, B. 2000. Aspects of Late Dorset faunal analyses from sites in Hatherton Bay, Thule District, Greenland. Pp. 77–81, In M. Appelt, J. Berglund, and H.C. 24 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 McGhee, R. 2000. Radiocarbon dating and the timing of the Thule migration. Pp. 181–191, In M. Appelt, J. Berglund, and H.C. Gulløv (Eds.). Identities and Cultural Contacts in the Arctic. Danish National Museum and Danish Polar Center Publication No. 8. Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. 267 pp. Meldgaard, J. 1995. Eskimoer og Nordboer i det yderste nord [Eskimos and Norsemen in the far north]. Pp. 199–214, In O. Olsen (Ed.). Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark 1995. National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark. 216 pp. Murray, M.S. 1999. Local heroes. The long-term effects of short-term prosperity: An example from the Canadian Arctic. World Archaeology 30(3):466–483. Muus, B., F. Salomonsen, and C. Vibe. 1981. Grønlands Fauna. Fisk – Fugle – Pattedyr [Fauna of Greenland. Fishes – Birds – Mammals]. Gyldendal, Copenhagen, Denmark. 464 pp. Park, R.W. 2008. Contact between the Norse Vikings and the Dorset culture in arctic Canada. Antiquity 82: 189–198. Ramsey, C.B. 2001. Development of the radiocarbon program OxCal. Radiocarbon 43(2A):355–363. Stuiver, M., P.J. Reimer, E. Bard, J.W. Beck, G.S. Burr, K.A. Hughen, B. Kromer, G. McCormac, J. van der Plicht, and M. Spurk. 1998. INTCAL98 radiocarbon age calibration, 24000-0 cal BP. Radiocarbon 40(3): 1041–1083. Sutherland, P.D. 2000. Strands of Culture Contact: Dorset- Norse Interactions in the Canadian Eastern Arctic. Pp. 159–169, In M. Appelt, J. Berglund, and H.C. Gulløv. (Eds.). Identities and Cultural Contacts in the Arctic. Danish Polar Center Publication No. 8. Danish National Museum and Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. 267 pp. Sutherland, P.D. (Ed.). 2005. Contributions to the study of the Dorset Paleo-Eskimos. Mercury Series, Archaeology Paper 167. Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Québec. 165 pp. Østergård, E. 2003. Som Syet til Jorden. Tekstilfund fra det Norrøne Grønland [As Though Sewn to the Earth. Textile Finds from Norse Greenland]. Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, Denmark. 298 pp.