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The Prehistory of Greenland

The Eastern Arctic was first settled around 2500 BC by people who once lived around the shores of the Bering Strait. Within a few Centuries their settlements dotted the landscapes from Victoria Island to East Greenland and Labrador.

Around 1000 BC major changes in site locations and use, house styles and artefact styles suggest that the life of the pre-Inuit groups underwent important changes. In archaeological terms these changes are marked by shift from early Arctic Small Tool / early pre-Inuit traditions to late Arctic Small Tool / late pre-Inuit tradition or the Dorset culture.

The second major change in the human settling of the Eastern Arctic seems to have taken place around 1000 AD when Inuit groups from Alaska settled the entire area once peopled by the pre-Inuit groups and became the direct ancestors of the present day Inuit.
Viking and Norse settlement in the North Atlantic and Greenland was an offshoot of the Scandinavian Viking Age in which Scandinavians came in close contacts with the rest of the world and new ideas and political and economical systems were introduced to the Scandinavian homelands.

The settlement in Greenland lasted for nearly 500 years and the depopulation coincided with climate changes in the northern hemisphere.

Read more about the Saqqaq culture, the Independence I and Independence II cultures, the early Dorset/Greenlandic Dorset and late Dorset cultures, the Norse settlements in Greenland and the Thule culture.