Prehistory: Arctic (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: The Arctic is the area of North America that has been longest inhabited by Indians.
The Arctic ordinarily is defined as the circumpolar region lying north of the treeline where the warmest temperature is below 10 degrees centigrade; it only roughly approximates the Arctic Circle. In the Western Hemisphere, the prehistoric Arctic culture area included the Bering Strait land bridge (Beringia), northern Alaska and northern Canada, the Canadian Archipelago, and most of Greenland. Next to the Antarctic, it was the last of the global niches in which humans made those adaptations essential to their survival, a process that had begun by 10,000 b.c.e.
Serious archaeological research into the Western Hemisphere Arctic began in the 1920's with the work of Knud Rasmussen, Kaj Birket-Smith, and Terkel Mathiassen. It bared the outlines of a whale-hunting Eskimo culture named Thule, the origins of which lay in Alaska, where a Paleo-Arctic tradition dated to 10,000 b.c.e. In 1925, archaeologist Diamond Jenness unearthed evidence of a hitherto unknown Arctic culture, since called Dorset, that predated the Thule tradition. A rapid extension of Arctic research after 1945 by Helge Larsen, Jorgen Meldgaard, J. Louis Giddings, William Taylor, and Elmer Harp, Jr., among others, broadened knowledge of Thule and Dorset cultures. They and other researchers also provided evidence of a pre-Dorset culture that spread across the northern,...
(The entire section is 327 words.)
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