E172 Tatsip Ataa

Part of: Greenland

Ø172 Tatsip Ataa Midden Excavation Project - Subsistence Strategies and Economy in Norse Vatnahverfi


The Norse economy in Greenland was strongly dependent upon a balance of both marine resources (seals, sea birds, walruses) and terrestrial resources (pasture plants, woodland, fertilized soils, domestic mammals, reindeer) (McGovern 1985, 2000, McGovern et al 1996, Enghoff 2003). The Vatnahverfi project aims at improving understanding of the Norse farming and hunting strategies, as well as the use of other local resources (woodland, pasture, marine and freshwater resources) in the Vatnahverfi area, and how they changed in the face of climatic and environmental changes, especially with the arrival of summer sea ice ca. 1250-1300 and the cooling and increased variability of the 15th century (Ogilvie et al 2009, Dugmore et al 2007, 2012). This in turn may have affected the settlement pattern, and the use of landscape and natural resources in this inner fjord part of the Norse Eastern Settlement. Through zooarchaeology and environmental archaeology, we aim to reconstruct the human ecodynamics of that region and collect data that will be basis for a broader comparison with other places in the Norse North Atlantic.

The farm site E172 Tatsip Ataa was chosen after the completion of a coring survey and an excavation of a 2x3m trench at this farm complex in 2007, which located and dated the midden (Śmiarowski 2007, Møller et.al. 2007). The overall main objectives for both (2009-10) field seasons were to continue excavations of the midden. The 2007 survey and excavation results confirmed good organic preservation (preserved wood, bark, and small whale baleen artifacts with soil ph 6.2 in most of the midden layers), and produced sizable archaeofauna and artifact collections. Further investigation of bone and artifact density, and excavation of datable patches of cultural deposits to recover a sample of ecofacts and artifacts from the midden layers was the main aim of the 2009-10 excavations.

Smiarowski Konrad. (2012). E172 Tatsip Ataa Midden Excavation. 2009 & 2010 Preliminary Excavation Report, NABO field report series, available on line www.nabohome.org

Smiarowski, Konrad, (2007).. Greenland 2007 Field Season Preliminary Report. NORSEC IPY Report available on line www.nabohome.org