Part of: Greenland
RAPID Garðar Collaborative Rescue Project - 2012
RAPID is an intensive international multi-disciplinary effort to salvage critical organic remains (zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical, artifactual, geoarchaeological, bioarchaeological, and archaeoentomological) from rapidly degrading cultural deposits at the unique site of Garðar E47 at modern Igaliku. Garðar was the bishops’ manor farm with a large stone cathedral and stalling space for well over 100 cattle. Major excavations at the site were carried out by Poul Nørlund in 1926 that documented the unusual size and layout of the church and manor farm and recovered some human and animal bone, but without observing stratigraphy or employing any systematic recovery strategy (Nørlund 1929). This site is key to understanding the changing structure and organization of Norse Greenland and its societal response to climate change and culture contact, but its unique archaeological record is now under urgent threat. As in other portions of the circumpolar north, rapid warming in the past decade has drastically degraded once outstanding conditions of organic preservation, as seasonally frozen ground now thaws completely every year and organic deposits preserved for thousands of years are rapidly decaying. In Greenland, a major finding of the 2007-10 International Polar Year effort is the rapidity and scope of loss of once well-preserved organics all across South Greenland.
At Garðar medieval irrigation systems had created substantial wet meadows around the bishops’ manor farm, but in 2004 -05 modern farmers began cutting a series of deep drainage trenches in this meadow area. Site visits (Kapel 2005) confirmed that these ditches had exposed extensive midden deposits with well preserved bone and wood visible in profile.
The RAPID project is aimed at rescuing these deposits, but intensive excavation during July-August 2012.
Keywords: Greenland, Norse, Zooarchaeology, Climate, Subsistance, Eastern Settlement
Sponsors/Funders: NSF Office of Polar Programs
Region: Quaqortoq municipality, Igaliku Fjord
Project Start Year: 2012
Projected End Year: 2013
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