Igloolik Archaeological Sites

National Historic Site

Igloolik Island has been home to Arctic peoples for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence places human activity on the island as early as 2000 BCE, when the Pre-Dorset peoples were attracted to the area due to its excellent fishing and sea mammal hunting. Later occupations include both Dorset and Thule. Archaeological research at the island has provided one of the most complete archaeological sequences in Arctic Canada. Today, the village of Igloolik occupies a portion of the western section of the island. It was the wintering site for Edward Parry in 1821, and was the base of the Fifth Thule Expedition of 1921-1924.

There are nine archaeological sites found on Igloolik Island, located on the north-western shore of Foxe Basin, in Nunavut, Canada. These sites, located on the island’s raised beaches, date from Dorset and Pre-Dorset occupations from as early as 2000 BCE. There are nine polygons, representing the archaeological sites identified before 1978, which have been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

The archaeological site presents one of the most complete archaeological sequences in the Arctic. Because of the excellent sea mammal hunting, people have been attracted to the area for more than 4000 years.

The settings of the nine archaeological sites identified before 1978 on raised beaches throughout the island;
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Archaeological sites in their found forms, locations and materials, including evidence of the cultural occupations of Pre-Dorset, Dorset, and Thule peoples;

Viewscapes between the nine archaeological sites and their surrounding landscape.

Skeletal remains of four Dorset Palaeo-Eskimo individuals were found at Alarnerk (NhHd-1), Melville Peninsula, in 1954 by the joint Danish National Museum-University of Pennsylvania Expedition, which was excavating Dorset and pre-Dorset sites. These remains included one complete mandible, two fragmentary mandibles, and a cranial fragment. One of the mandibular fragments, found in a grave, was from a child approximately nine months old. The other remains were found in middens at the site. These remains add to the otherwise very sparse Dorset human material. Analysis of the dental morphology, as well as morphometric analysis of the complete mandible, shows Eskimoid characters and resemblance with later period Greenlandic human skeletal remains.

Mary Stapleton

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