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The Northernmost Ruins of the Globe

Eigil Knuth’s Archaeological Investigations in Peary Land and Adjacent Areas of High Arctic Greenland


An important part of the heritage of Count Eigil Knuth (1903-1996) is his archaeological archive contaning contextual information on prehistoric sites gathered during six decades of research in High Arctic Greenland. The finds and observations are a key to the understanding of human life under extreme conditions in a long-term perspective and represent a unique piece of evidence concerning the early cultural history of the Eastern Arctic.

Knuth’s expeditions from 1932 to 1995 took him to Greenland and Canada, in particular High Arctic Greenland. In a number of important articles Knuth published the findings dating back to the earliest human settlement in Greenland. However, he never managed to present the complete body of information and results from his many investigations. The present authors have thus compiled a computer database on the  basis on his archive, which constitutes the starting point of the present book. The book focuses on Knuth’s most substantial contribution to archaeology: the prehistory of Peary Land and adjacent areas.

In the catalog, emphasis has been placed on topographical and architectural information, site structure, artefact statistics and radiocarbon dates. A total of 154 archaeological sites are presented.  Fifty-one sites with a total of 244 features are Independence I sites (c. 2460–1860 cal. BC), twenty-three sites with a total of 416 features belong to Independence II (c. 900–400 cal. BC) and sixty-three sites with a total of 626 features are of Thule origin (c. 1400–1500 ca. AD).

This study presents some new information on the faunal material from Peary Land based on Christyann Darwent’s recent analyses as well as new data on the dwelling features on the Adam C. Knuth Site, which was visited by a multidisciplinary team in 2001. It also offers an introduction presenting an overview and evaluation of Knuth’s remarkable curriculum vitae as an independent arctic archaeologist.

In the concluding chapters some basic statistics on the archaeological sites are presented. We evaluate Knuth’s radiocarbon datings of the Independence I, Independence II and Thule cultures in High Arctic Greenland, and settlement distributions and settlement patterns for the three cultures represented in Peary Land are discussed.

404 pages | © 2003

Monographs on Greenland


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Table of Contents

      Bjarne Grønnow
1. Introduction
      Bjarne Grønnow
2. Hall Land—the Doorstep to Greenland
      Jens Fog Jensen
3. Barren Shores along the Polar Sea—from Nyobe Land to Peary Land
      Jens Fog Jensen
4. Wandel Dal—a High Arctic Oasis
      Jens Fog Jensen
5. Jørgen Brønlund Fjord
      Jens Fog Jensen
6. The Frozen Fjord—Independence Fjord
      Jens Fog Jensen
7. Coastal Plains Towards the Polar Sea—the Eastern Shore of Peary Land
      Jens Fog Jensen
8. The Northernmost Ruins of the Globe—Johannes V. Jensen Land
      Jens Fog Jensen
9. Danmark Fjord and Prinsesse Ingeborg Halvø—a Large Fjord and its Archipelago
      Jens Fog Jensen
10. Settlements by the North-East Water—the East Coast from Nordostrundingen to Dove Bugt
      Jens Fog Jensen
11. Discussion and Conclusions
      Jens Fog Jensen and Bjarne Grønnow

Appendix 1: The Zoo-archaeology of Peary Land and Adjacent Areas
      Christyann M. Darwent
Appendix 2: Faunal Remains from all Features Analysed
      Christyann M. Darwent
Appendix 3: Eigil Knuth’s Faunal Collection from Northern Greenland
      Christyann M. Darwent

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