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Ottawa Researcher's Firing Derails Viking Project

Science & Tech  (tags: ancient, archaeology, discovery, research )

- 1974 days ago -
Dr. Pat Sutherland working at an archeological site on Baffin Island known as Nanook. She believes the excavation was a building established by the Norse (aka Vikings) around 1300 or possibly earlier so they could trade for furs, narwhal tusks and walrus

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Roger G (154)
Friday November 23, 2012, 3:26 pm
noted, thanks !

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday November 23, 2012, 7:21 pm
This dismissal is very sad. They aren't giving enough information to come to any conclusions about it. But, one certainly hopes it is resolved soon, and in a just manner.
This archeological site has the potential to REWRITE the entire History of the North American Continent!!! And its relations with Europe...

Vikings may have been in contact with Native Americans here, and established trade relations, for 400 years! that is an exciting thought! One of the things traded, was narwhal tusks. Narwhal tusks were in demand in Europe, as "Unicorn horns". Europeans didn't know that the horns came from a sea creature! Unicorns were depicted as a horse or a goat with a narwhal horn growing out of the center of their foreheads... The narwhal tusk "Unicorn horn" was supposed to be a magic antidote to poison. This was important for the Royalty and Nobility at the time! as assassination by poison was a real political risk... The horns were rare and very high priced...!

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday November 23, 2012, 7:24 pm
Until now, the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America was at L’Anse aux Meadows, established around the year 1000 at the northern tip of Newfoundland, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But archeological evidence suggests the Norse only stayed for a decade or so, and there’s no sign that they traded with the natives. There’s not even any archeological evidence that the Norse at L’Anse aux Meadows had contact with the aboriginal population, though Norse sagas — oral histories written down two or three centuries after the events — tell of the settlers being driven away by fierce and unwelcoming natives.

Current evidence suggests the Nanook site on southern Baffin Island, about 25 kilometres from the village of Kimmirut, was established around 1300 AD, though Sutherland says it could date from a much earlier period. If so, it’s conceivable that Nanook was the place of first contact between native North Americans and Europeans.

The site was originally excavated in the 1960s and at the time, was thought to be a Dorset settlement. But based on evidence she has painstakingly assembled over a dozen years, Sutherland says she’s certain the Nanook site is of European origin.

“I’m very confident that what we have is an indication of a Norse presence in the Canadian Arctic that we weren’t aware of before, that it was over a longer period of time, and that the interactions with the aboriginal people were more complex and extensive than we thought before.”

It’s a “no-brainer” that trade would have been involved, Sutherland says. The Dorset had the goods, including walrus ivory, narwhal tusks and furs, that the Norse were after. And they were only a two-day sail from Norse outposts in Greenland. “One could reasonably argue that the travels to the east coast of Canada, to the Arctic, was over a period of four centuries,” she says.

As Sutherland has accumulated evidence, her conclusions have become more widely accepted within an initially skeptical archeological community.

James Tuck, an emeritus professor of archeology at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld., says Sutherland’s evidence “seems to be getting better all the time.” He adds: “She’s created a project that has brought together all kinds of different lines of evidence and experts, and they all are pointing in the same direction.”

Tuck called Sutherland’s dismissal from the museum of civilization a “tremendous setback” for the project.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 2:29 am
Thanks Marty and Mutiny for this interesting information.

Kerrie G (116)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 6:08 am
Noted, thanks.

reft h (66)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 2:37 pm
Thanks for the article. Someone in power didn't like this couple. I hope the situation will be resolved fairly and that she will be able to continue her work.

Aletta Kraan (146)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 3:44 pm
Noted, hope she will be back soon !!

Suzanne L (98)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 8:30 pm
Noted and thank you Marty. There's something fishy here. Sutherland and McGhee are well-respected archaeologists. The museum was originallly called The Museum of Man in a wonderful old victorian-gothic style building on Metcalfe St. in Ottawa. Eventually a brand new building was built across the river in Quebec. It is very modern but not particularly inspiring in any way and is mostly empty space and big windows. There are only a few things on display when in fact there is a wealth of Canadian archaeological material that is warehoused in various locations. It's sad because I think the shift is away from pre-history altogether.

Stella Gamboni (17)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 10:19 pm
Ah, intrigue! I love intrigue. Seems to really muck up scientific research though.
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