An Early Inuit Workshop at a Qassi, a Men’s House, Nuulliit, Northwest Greenland

Asta Mønsted, Martin Appelt, Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen, Claire Houmard, Antoine Zazzo, Sophie Cersoy, Olivier Tombret and Bjarne Grønnow


Recent excavations in northern Greenland at the early Inuit site, Nuulliit, belonging to the Ruin Island Phase of the Thule culture, included a settlement area in front of House 30, a turf house ruin originally investigated by Holtved in 1947. A discussion of the interpretation of the feature as a qassi (a men’s house) is presented, and analyses of the spatial distributions of waste, tools, and preforms show that the area in front of the qassi served mainly as a workshop, where repair, recycling, and discard of hunting gear and tools took place. Walrus ivory tools, soapstone vessels, and blades of meteoric iron were produced. Training apprentices was an integral part of the activities, and small seals and birds were consumed in the workshop area. The workshop mainly dates to the 14th century AD. Norse iron was found, and a reevaluation of radiocarbon dates leads to a discussion of the early Inuit expansion into Greenland.

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