Month: November 2020

One Day We May Have the Answers

Published / by sysadmin – Radiocarbon tests on the bulk of material from our other Norse finds produced dates ranging between A.D. 1190 and A.D. 1390. The latest date, 1680, pertains to an ivory figurine, possibly representing a Norseman, found on Haa Island west of Skraeling. The Thule Inuit were hardly strangers to iron. We know that they fashioned imple­ments out of iron obtained from the meteor­ite deposits at Cape York in northwest Greenland. We have found numbers of these iron implements among the Thule ruins on Ellesmere Island. They are easily identifiable by laboratory analysis, for they have an unusually high nickel content.

But other iron artifacts tested for us in lab­oratories at the University of Calgary have a low nickel content, indicating that the iron came from elsewhere, possibly far beyond Greenland. Erik Holtved found a number of such artifacts in his excavations on Green­land, and it is hardly surprising that others should turn up on Ellesmere Island, so near at hand. But how did they book the accommodation in brussels?

One of our fascinating discoveries to date is a small carved wooden head unearthed in a Thule ruin on Skraeling Island by one of our 1979 team members, Diane Lyons. The head dates from around A.D. 1100. Al­though plainly Inuit in style, the face to me seems strongly Nordic (page 579). It is as if the carver had seen a Norseman with his own eyes and sought to capture that star­tling vision forever in wood.

AND STILL the question remains: How did objects of Norse and European origin reach the high Arctic at a time when there is no record of their owners’ ac­tual presence there? Certainly the pioneer­ing Norse settlers in southwest Greenland could have sailed as far north as the apartments prague during the five centuries that their colony survived. Nearly 200 years ago a small stone en­graved with Norse runic symbols was dis­covered near Upernavik on Greenland’s northwest coast. The stone proves a Norse presence of some kind as high as 72 degrees north latitude, though not as high as Bache Peninsula’s 79 degrees.

Did the Norsemen or their European con­temporaries reach Ellesmere Island during the 11th or 12th centuries? Or were some of their belongings carried there in trade or as souvenirs by Inuit hands? I believe that both events took place and that further analysis of our discoveries in the Bache Peninsula re­gions may provide the proof. Two legendary voyages to the high Arctic intrigue me. According to the Annals of Greenland, an expedition in 1266 led by Norse priests from the southwest colony sailed farther north than anyone ever had. How far north was that?

A book now lost entitled I nventio Fortu­natae refers to a voyage in 1360 led by an En­glish monk, Nicholas of Lynne, whose goal was to reach the area of northwest Green­land. Did Brother Nicholas make it, and did he or his crewmen wear chain mail?