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August 10, 2013

Essay on Ancient People of The Arctic

Ancient People of the Arctic
The Arctic was the last vast region of the habitable world which was occupied by human beings. Near the end of the last ice age, the ancestors of American Indians went through the Western Arctic and expanded their territory from Asia to America.
The first inhabitants of the Arctic middle and eastern North America are designated as Small Tool tradition (or tradition of small tools), and have existed around 2500 BC. These people consisted of several sub-assemblies, including Culture and Cultural Independence Pre-Dorset.
The Dorset (Inuktitut: Tuniit or tunit) refers to the inhabitants of central and east side of the Arctic. The Dorset culture has evolved due to technological and economic changes during the period 1050-550 BC. With the exception of the Quebec region and Labrador this culture disappeared around 1500 AD.
The transition from Dorset to Thule began sometime in the ninth-tenth century. Scientists theorize that there may have existed for contacts between these two cultures, with the sharing of techniques, such as design of harpoon heads, or the Thule found the remains of the Dorset and adapted it to their own culture . Others assume that the Thule forced migration of Dorset.
In 1300, the Inuit of the Arctic current residents and descendants of the Thule culture, settled in western Greenland, and moved to eastern Greenland during the following century. Over time, the Inuit have migrated from the Arctic regions of Canada to Greenland, Russia and the United States and the people today are symbolic of the Arctic region. Other indigenous peoples of the Arctic Circle include Chukchi, Evenki, Inupiat, Khanty, Koryak, Nenets, Sami, Yukagirs and Yupik.

Today there are about 4 million people in Arctic soil. Even if the figure is not official, it seems to reflect a vague idea of ​​this population. Traditional culture and traditional lifestyle of the inhabitants of the Arctic have evolved during the 20th century, to a strong "Westernization." Inuit abandoned their traditional dwellings (igloo hut) for prefabricated houses, and their dog sled for snowmobiles.
Many cultural and political considerations about the Inuit identity gravitated in recent years due to their rapid change of lifestyle. It appears that the Inuit are not considered as a nation, but that recognition of this people appears crucial for safeguarding the economic, cultural, social and environment this region of the globe.(Howse, 2008)
Palaeo-Eskimos were the audacious explorers of the Arctic. As long as four thousand years ago, the people made their entry into the far northern extremes of the North American continent, eking out a living of their gloomy new homeland. The lifestyle and culture of ancient arctic people can be analyzed, though not very accurately, through the traces they left behind.
Palaeo-Eskimos spread across the entire Arctic and devised their own ways to deal with the climate changes that changed their environment quite drastically. The book, on the whole, offers glimpses into the spiritual practices and their world view.  The author also speculates about their eventual demise.
After the arrival of Inuit in the Canadian Arctic almost 1,000 years ago, they discovered the Tunit, a race of powerful and peaceful giants who were easily driven out of their hunting grounds and soon vanished. It also marked the ending of Paleo-Eskimo culture that had thrived over 3,000 years. Their culture invented the bow to the North American Indians and the igloo to the Inuit. Their culture also gave birth to the most arousing works of art from the North.
It is usually seen that the works by academics should contain something to attract the attention of a common audience. As a matter of fact, the North holds its pivotal importance in the psyche of Canadians. They cherish the cultures long gone and appreciate the surviving art of the Paleo-Eskimo.
The history of ancient arctic people is replete with the stories of continent-wide migrations, their adaptability to abrasive environment and changes in climate. For instance, caribou “drift across the landscape like ungainly ghosts,” and tattered, windblown muskoxen “lumber on their mysterious journeys.” In one of several re-creations, a Paleo-Eskimo family awakens one smoggy night to listen to the splattering paddles and unrecognizable language of the Inuit who will displace them.
It may be elongating the archeological evidence, but it is a very efficient way of conveying oneself to the lost world.  The readable text is also well depicted by the generous illustrations. It reveals the extraordinary art of these people. They also elicit the sense of the landscape they dwelled on. McGhee view archeologists as travelers from the past who have their accounts of own brief visits.
This book complements the exhibition “Lost Visions, Forgotten Dreams: Life and Art of an Ancient Arctic People,” opening at the Canadian Museum of Civilization on November 14, before touring the rest of the country, Europe, Japan, and the U.S.(Brink, 2005)
The Arctic is undoubtedly one of those territories which were excluded at all times, fed the imagination. Long mysterious, always fascinating, this land of ice is above all a land of men. Robert McGhee has understood and is an eloquent demonstration here. Drawing on archeology, anthropology and a life science and personal experience of the Far North, is over simplification and provides tough, perhaps for the first time, a true history of the Arctic. Of postglacial Today, Siberia in Baffin Island, the author tells the browsers that have obstinacy sought in ice a passage between the continents, the Vikings advanced toiling farmers in the North Atlantic and the adventures of patriotic explorers who raced to the pole. It also tells the fur trade and mining dreams that have whetted the appetite of Europeans, the ravages of whaling and other ivory hunters, changes brought about by the Cold War and its end.  Finally he said the long and dense history of northern peoples that for too long has revealed to be represented as fixed, stood still like statues in a prehistoric junk. Stripped of its myths, given its complexity, in short, humanized, the history of the Arctic is even more captivating.
The first settlers arrived in Canada during the last Ice Age, which began there about 80,000 years ago and ended roughly 12,000 years. For much of this period, most of Canada was covered by several hundreds of meters of ice. The amount of water trapped in continental glaciers resulted in a reduction of over 100 m of sea level worldwide, creating land bridges in areas that are now covered by shallow seas.
One of these bridges was located in what is now the Bering Strait, connecting Siberia to Alaska on a flat expanse of over 1000 km wide. Large herbivores such as caribou, musk oxen, bison, horses and mammoths, roamed the plains. At some point during the glacial period, these animals were followed by hunters who managed to adapt their lifestyles to the cold climates of northern latitudes.
The time of first immigration to the New World remains a controversial issue. It was long thought that humans could not reach the American continents before the end of the Ice Age. It was also believed that before the last major ice advance, there are between 25,000 and 15,000 years, the peoples of the Old World had failed to develop techniques allowing them to survive in frigid conditions North-east Asia, nor to build boats capable of crossing the waters of the Bering Strait. However, recent discoveries show that there are at least 30,000 years, man has come to Australia following a wide sea lane, and at a time so remote that there are 200 000 years, people in Europe in the Paleolithic (Stone Age) lived in extreme cold and environmental conditions could have boats capable of crossing the Gibraltar Strait. It remains theoretically possible that humans from Siberia could have reached North America at some time during the past 100 000 years.
In recent decades there has traced the origin of several archaeological sites in the New World at the time of the last glaciations. Archaeologists, however, universally recognized as the first occupation of importance only dates back 12,000 years. Much of Alaska and the Yukon Territory have remained free of ice during the glacial period, probably due to the dry climate and scarcity of snow (see NUNATAK). Connected to Siberia by the Beringian plain and separated from the rest of North America by glaciers, these regions, called Beringia, were essentially part of Asia.
The environment was characterized by a cold TUNDRA, although there were spruce forests, at least during the times and non-glacial interstadial, which supported a wide variety of animals. Archaeological finds along the BASIN OLD CROW in the northern Yukon suggest the presence of groups of Paleolithic hunters, there are between 25,000 and 30,000 years. However, these objects were found in redeposited sediments, and several of them have been shaped by agents other than humans (such as carnivores or chewing ice movement), so we put questioned the age of some objects that are actually man-made.

The archeological site identified as having been the site of the earliest human occupation is that of the Bluefish Caves in northern Yukon. Here, within three small caves overlooking a large pool, a few chipped stone objects were found in layers of sediment containing bones of fossil animals which, according to radiocarbon dating, were aged at 10 000-13 000 years and possibly 15 000 to 18 000 years. Some of these artifacts are similar to those of the last period of the Paleolithic of northeast Asia, suggesting that populations of hunters from Asia have migrated north-western Canada via the Bering and Alaska. It is unclear whether similar to those peoples who inhabited the caves Bluefish have penetrated further into North America.
A relatively narrow corridor and devoid of ice may have existed between the Cordilleran mountain glaciers to the west and the Laurentide Ice Sheet extending from the Canadian Shield, but it also remains possible that this corridor has seen the days after the melting and retreat of glaciers, there are about 15 000 years. Recent findings suggest that another route could have been followed along the Pacific coast west of the Cordilleran glaciers.
We find no ancient sites along these corridors, but some human groups have ventured into the western United States there are approximately 12 000 years, and have developed a lifestyle based on hunting Large herbivores that roamed the grasslands and tundra lined with ice.

There are about 11 000 years, some of these Paleo-Indians, as archaeologists call them, began to migrate north, within Canada, as the southern tip of continental glaciers fell. Environmental zones similar to those found today in arctic and subarctic Canada have moved northward in the same way. In many regions, the ice front has been replaced by huge lakes formed by melting glaciers (eg LAKE AGASSIZ), their disgorgers being dammed by glaciers to the north.
The lakes were surrounded by earth covered with tundra vegetation where grazing caribou, musk oxen and other herbivores. South of this narrow strip of tundra spread of spruce forests and grasslands, and the Paleo-Indians probably followed the northern boundary of these areas in their travels from coast to coast in Canada.
The ancestors of the Inuit left Alaska and moved to Greenland, 750 years ago, to capture the Cape York meteorite. This is the theory developed by Robert McGhee (archaeologist and curator emeritus at the Canadian Museum of Civilization), Herbert Maschner (Professor of Anthropology at the University of Idaho) and Owen K. Mason (Research Fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado), in a book entitled The Northern World: AD 900 to 1400 (The northern world from 900 to 1400).

The Cape York meteorite would have fallen from heaven, there are about 10 000 years, while Greenland was still uninhabited, to land in Melville Bay, 35 km from Cape whose name it bears. It was shown by the American explorer Robert Peary in 1894. The Inuit, who knew the location of three long fragments, gave them names according to their respective sizes.
The largest (31 tons) was named The Tent, while the other two are called The Woman and the Dog. For centuries, in effect, the Inuit have used the iron meteorite as the source of metal for making their tools and spears. Several fragments of the meteorite Cape York are now on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York. Another specimen is in the collection of the Geological Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.
According to Robert McGhee, nearly 55 000 Inuit hunters have crossed the Arctic in the mid 13th century. Archaeological discoveries show that the colonies Thule Greenland are older than Canada, yet closer to Alaska. The meteorite was so much the main target of the Inuit. They would then spread from the North East Arctic to the Northwest Territories, the province of Nunavut and the Yukon. The North American researchers indicate that migration to Greenland Inuit has not been a gradual process spanning several centuries, as was thought until now.
Instead, the data obtained through radiocarbon show that the Thule people of Alaska have crossed the territory of Canada in a few seasons, traveling by sled and using sealskin kayaks. They would come into contact with an indigenous people, the Sivullirmiut (literally original inhabitants) or Tuniit, or Dorset, which occupied the greater part of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, was colonized. The Dorset probably already used resources ferrous meteorites and maintained trade relations with the peoples of the Vikings Iceland and southern Greenland.
These findings contradict previous hypotheses concerning the establishment of the Inuit in Canada. Researchers previously thought that environmental pressures, including global warming and medieval periods of famine had pushed the Thule migration to new territories. Dr. McGhee is, meanwhile, convinced that the motives were essentially mercantile Inuit. They left in search of that precious iron that was used in the manufacture of handguns and tools to sculpt the bone or reindeer antlers.
The metal was the spearhead of their technology and culture. Inuit, as European explorers came to America a few centuries later, seeking business opportunities. Archaeological work in progress will prove without doubt that they were a nation of entrepreneurs.
All in all, the book Ancient People of the Arctic offers recommendations which are very informative, jargon-free, deftly written, and sparingly illustrated by maps, color plates, and wonderful depiction of ancient scenes. The book provides a vivid account of Palaeo-Eskimo society and culture.














References
Brink, Jack, W (2005) “InukShuk” Caribou Drive Lanes on Southern Victoria Island Nunavut Canada, Arctic Anthropology
Howse, Lesley (2008) “Late Dorset Caribou Hunters: Zoo archaeology of the Bell Site”, Victoria Island. Arctic Anthropology. 





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