Iita before the fall: Mitigation of a unique stratified site in the high Arctic of Greenland


Iita (Etah), which sits on the north shore of Foulke Fjord in northwestern Greenland, in many ways could serve as a poster child for climate-change-driven destruction of coastal sites. Sitting on an alluvial fan at the base of a steep-sloped kame deposit, the site has rich historic and late prehistoric occupations visible on its surface. But more uniquely for the high Arctic, there are also 1000 years of continuous human use locked in stratigraphically sequenced buried soils, starting with the Late Dorset, followed by the Thule and the Inughuit, and topped by debris from Euroamerican historic exploration groups. It is clear that the draw to this area for all these groups, directly or directly, is a large little auk colony located further east in Foulke Fjord. Unfortunately, active erosion is now undercutting these deposits and they are falling into the fjord. Based on historic photos, this process began less than 100 years ago, with the most likely agent at play being decreased summer ice. Here we discuss results of NSF-funded mitigative excavations undertaken at Iita in 2016 to recover as much information as possible about this unique site before its demise.

Cite this Record

Iita before the fall: Mitigation of a unique stratified site in the high Arctic of Greenland. John Darwent, Genevieve LeMoine, Hans Lange, Christyann Darwent. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429120)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14691