Interpretation of faunal remains from Norse sites in Greenland

Brian A. Salmons ANT4103 “Archaeological Science” Dr. Robert Tykot Spring 2000

Introduction The analysis of animal (faunal) and plant (floral) remains from archaeological contexts can provide useful information on many aspects of past human behavior, including subsistence patterns, settlement patterns, ideology, status differences, ethnicity, seasonality, technology, trade connections, and domestication, as well as aid in reconstruction of paleo-environments (Sutton & Arkush 1996). Particular questions which can be addressed include what particular subsistence strategies were employed, how intensive they were, how successful, when and where and which plants and animals were first domesticated, to what uses plants and animals were put other than human subsistence, what time of year a particular site was occupied, and so on (Davis 1987). The objective of this paper is to critically examine the existing literature on faunal remains excavated from Norse-era (AD 985 – c. 1500) archaeological sites in Greenland (Eastern and Western Settlements; see map - Fig. 1), and from this literature assess the value of the remains in interpretation of human behavior in this Arctic frontier. Research for this paper involved searching through bibliographies, websites, and journals for any material dealing with the occurrence of faunal remains at Norse sites in Greenland (particularly primary sources such as excavation reports), collecting appropriate sources for a brief discussion on the methodology of faunal analysis, and searching biological journals and other publications for relevant information to aid in the archaeological assessment of the material.

Historical Background Previous to the coming of the Norse in AD 985, Greenland had been inhabited by various Inuit cultures including the Dorset culture and the later Thule culture. Interaction between the Thule Eskimos and the newly arrived Norse appears to have begun shortly after the Norse landnam (pioneer settlement) in the Western Settlement of Greenland, near modern Godthåb. In previous centuries, beginning in the eighth century AD, Viking populations had begun to spread out from Scandinavia, eventually colonizing almost the entire North Atlantic (Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, Faeroe Islands, N. Hebrides, Scotland, Ireland, and Iceland). As the story is told in the Icelandic sagas Grœnlendingaþáttr and Thornfinn Karlsefni’s Saga, around the year AD 1002, the Norse started to settle in a land they called Vinland (modern Newfoundland), which had been spotted a couple of years earlier by the famous Leif Eriksson. This colony

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Fig. 1.

General map showing the Eastern and Western Settlements in Greenland, the L’Anse aux Meadows site in Newfoundland, as well as other areas and routes of Viking settlement and exploration. From Ingstad, 1977.

failed less than a decade later and no further attempts were made to colonize this distant land. Greenland, however, remained occupied and maintained its political autonomy until AD 1262-1264 when it was absorbed by the Norwegian kingdom. The Little Ice Age, which hit Europe the hardest in the late 17th century, was felt earlier (AD 1250-1300) in the North Atlantic countries, whose economies were particularly vulnerable to small-scale changes in climate. This event coincided with the beginning of the extinction of the Greenland colonies. In AD 1380, Norway was in turn incorporated into the Danish kingdom, which had further detrimental effects on the Greenlandic economy, and somewhat more than a century later both the Eastern and Western Settlements in Greenland were abandoned entirely (historical background from Gad 1970 and McGovern et al. 1996).

Climate and Vegetation The climate and vegetation in Greenland during Norse times were much the same as today (Fredskild 1988). Vegetation in the area of the Eastern Settlement changes as one travels from the coast into the inner fjords, with dwarf scrub heaths (Empetrum hermaphroditum), mosses, and lichens dominating the

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harsh coasts, and more subarctic species further in (forests of three to four meter tall birches Betula pubescens and Salix glauca). The lowlands beyond the inner fjords are heaths (Betula glandulosa and Salix glauca) interspersed with low willow copses and open grasslands. Fens and marshes are common around lakes, ponds, and streams and luxurious herb vegetation grows on south-facing slopes. The temperature in the interior (June-August mean temp. 5-6°C) is warmer than on the coast, which explains why almost all of the sites are located here and not in the outer fjords. The Western Settlement has generally the same climate and vegetation, except that there are no forests, the growing season is longer, and the interior temperature is somewhat warmer (July mean temp. 10.9°C). There are no coastal sites in the Western Settlement.

Methods The process of analyzing faunal remains includes recovery of the remains from an archaeological site and identification in the lab. Knowledge of taphonomy (what happens to the organisms after they die) as well as having a reference collection of modern or ancient material to compare the remains to are important throughout the procedure. Taphonomic processes which affect analysis of faunal remains include natural agents (knawing by rodents or dogs, bioturbation by rodents, displacement horizontally by water, natural fire, exposure to elements, soil acidity) and human activity (butchering, cooking, tool-making [Sutton & Arkush 1996; Davis 1987.]) In addition, the archaeological excavation itself may skew the representativeness of the faunal collection (e.g. choice of screen size, modern contamination of the samples). Davis has pointed out that the primary accumulation of a faunal assemblage at a site may occur through the activity of predators other than humans, such as hyenas or owls (pp. 24-26). In the case of Norse Greenland, domestic dogs play a significant role in the accumulation of archeofaunal assemblages. Recovery of faunal remains is accomplished by shovel-and-trowel excavation (for macrofossils), screen sifting (for bone fragments of large animals, bones of small animals like fish [McGovern 1985a: 80], or insect body parts [Buckland et al. in seq.]), and, in some cases, protein-residue analysis, which has been used to identify organic traces on tools, in coprolites, or in the soil (Sutton & Arkush 1996). Once the remains have been recovered in the field, they are taken back to the lab to be sorted, identified, preserved, and stored. A reference collection is necessary for sorting and accurately identifying

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the remains, and the quality and completeness of the reference collection, as well as completeness of the assemblage to be identified and the expertise of the faunal technician may all affect the identification and later interpretation of the remains. In addition, techniques used to preserve the remains may affect them in ways detrimental to future analyses.

Research The literature on faunal and floral remains excavated from the Eastern and Western Settlements is extensive and shows variability in both kind of remains preserved (e.g. bones, macro-floral remains and pollen, entomological remains) and what they can tell us about the Norse Greenlanders (e.g. climate changes, subsistence, living conditions, social structure). Fortunately , the collection and analysis of faunal remains from archaeological contexts began early in Greenland, which is quite unusual for the more commonly studied areas of the world. This degree of attention can be attributed largely to the sub-arctic environment, which is extremely favorable for preservation of ecofacts (McGovern 1985a). Among the earlier pioneers of archaeofaunal research in Greenland are Bruun (1896, 1917, 1918), Winge (in Bruun; in Clemmensen 1911; in Nørlund 1924), and Degerbøl (1929, 1934, 1936, 1941, 1943). These early archaeofaunal collections, which were generated by pre-modern excavation techniques, are highly biased against smaller bones, and thus should not be relied upon for anything other than species present lists (McGovern 1985a: 75). Following the lead of McGovern, most of the research reviewed in this paper dates to the 1980’s or later, reducing the possible effects which biased recovery techniques may have on interpretation. Presentation of the research will be organized by the typology of the remains (i.e. by what kind of material it is – vertebrate or entomological), as opposed to their interpretive value or a site-by-site presentation. The entomological (insect) remains will be discussed first. This data is taken primarily from the work of Buckland and colleagues (Buckland & Sveinbjarnardottír 1983; Buckland & Sadler 1989; Buckland, Buckland & Skidmore 2000). The vertebrate remains, comprised of mostly domestic mammals, will then be addressed. This data is taken primarily from McGovern’s comprehensive inter-site study (1985a), but other information not included in his study will be included here, being taken from the original excavation reports (McGovern 1980, 1985b; McGovern & Jordan 1982; McGovern et al. 1983; Buckland

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et al. 1983, 1996; Vebaek 1991). Related research involving bioarchaeological assessments of human skeletal material (Lynnerup; Fricke et al 1995), though relevant in terms of its biological perspective, will not be discussed here. Integrated with the presentation of the research will be a critical evaluation of the methodology used and of the interpretations made of the faunal data.

Entomological remains Details of everyday life on a Norse farmstead in the North Atlantic are usually not mentioned in the Scandinavian sagas. For this reason, analysis of insect remains had proved a useful tool for illustrating the squalid living conditions existent on a Norse farmstead in Greenland. Owing to Greenland’s cold, subarctic climate, entomological remains are well preserved in midden deposits and house floors (Buckland & Sveinbjarnardottír 1983, p. 127; Buckland, Buckland & Skidmore 2000). In a short article about the body louse in Greenland, Buckland presents the finds from two sites (V51 and V35) visited by McGovern and Jordan (Buckland & Sveinbjarnardottír 1983). He reports one specimen each of Pedicularis humanus (body louse) and P. humanus/capitis (either body or head louse, both found upon man). The caution usually put forth about small sample size can be safely set aside here being that insects, in general, are ubiquitous in their own habitat, and where there is one, there is sure to be many more. He also reports the presence of P. humanus at the site of Gårdet under Sandet (GUS), Western Settlement, where they were ubiquitous in occupation deposits (Buckland, Buckland & Skidmore 2000). The difference in sample size between GUS and V51/V35 may lie in recovery methods, which were not discussed at all for V51 or V35. At GUS, five litre samples were taken from all major contexts, including room floors and sand deposits adjacent to the site. They used a 300 mm mesh sieve and paraffin (kerosene) flotation to disaggregate the samples, and a binocular microscope to sort the remains. While his excavation and lab methods appear to be acceptable, his interpretation of some of the louse remains does not. He reports that samples from the byre contained not only Melophagus ovinus (the ked, found on sheep) and Damalinia ovis (the sheep louse), but also human body louse and the human flea, Pulex irritans. He suggests the possibility that “the herdsman dwelt with his stalled animals, perhaps a necessity when the weak stock had to be force fed a not particularly palatable mixture as fodder.” Another sample, taken from a house living floor, yielded not only human lice, but also sheep lice and a single goat louse (Damalinia caprae). He suggests that D. ovis may

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be residue from wool processing or casual losses from fleeces, wool, or even pet lambs. This need not necessarily be so, especially considering the close proximity of the rooms in a Norse farmstead (Buckland et al. 1983, Fig. 2), which were often built with shared walls. The human lice from the house could have found their own way or hitched a ride to the byre, and vice versa. Of the other insect fauna commonly found at Norse sites, the most common are Coleoptera (or beetles). At GUS, the beetle fauna is dominated by X. concinnus and Quedius mesomelinus. Other beetles include Boreophilia islandica, Hydroporus morio, and Colymbetes dolabratus, all of which were probably introduced with peat cuttings littered over the twig, moss, and woodchip covered floor. These species are not normally synanthropic, but seemed to have found a niche in this indoor habitat anyway. The Lathridius beetle also occurs in house floor samples. This beetle prefers to live in moldy environments, such as old hay, which also provides warmth for it to maintain breeding populations. In addition to beetles, Diptera (flies) are also abundant and prefer the same warmth given off my rotting plant material. The presence of these insects indoors indicates the presence of rotting plant material inside the farmhouses. Buckland et al. (2000) point out the absence of carrion and fat-processing fly species and suggest this is because the human inhabitants required all the fat they could extract from the bones (including marrow) to balance their diet. One particularly interesting find was a vessel containing “Viking house fly” remains and charred seaweed. Buckland looks to the Norse literature to explain that the seaweed was commonly used as a source of salt (for preservation), and the vessel likely contained seaweed treated meat or cheese, which attracted the flies. Lastly, and perhaps the most telling of all the samples at GUS, was a fireplace sample which contained 22 human lice and 18 human fleas, some of them charred. Buckland suggests this is the aftermath of nights spent by the fire picking off ectoparasites and flicking them towards the flames. Thus, the picture painted from these interpretations is not a pretty one.

Vertebrate remains Vertebrate remains, discussed by McGovern and colleagues in numerous studies (McGovern 1980, 1985a & b; McGovern & Jordan 1982; McGovern et al. 1983; Buckland et al. 1983, 1996; Vebaek 1991), can provide clues to a wider range of questions concerning Norse culture, including subsistence and diet, economy (overseas trade), and social structure and status differences. McGovern covers just about all of

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these in his 1985 study “Contributions to the Paleoeconomy of Norse Greenland” published in Acta Archaeologica. In it, he begins with a discussion of the history of archaeo-faunal research in Greenland, followed by a discussion of the limitations inherent in zooarchaeological methodology, and in Norse zooarchaeology in particular. He points out the highly biased nature of early faunal collections compared to those amassed through modern excavation techniques and accordingly decides to group the available faunal collections according to their hoped for representativeness of actual faunal diversity. He uses three categories: 1) those excavated using pre-modern techniques (1896-1929); 2) those using modern excavation techniques but which contain too few specimens (<300) to be useful; and 3) those excavated using modern techniques and which contain more than 300 specimens. The first category is really not good for anything except species diversity lists, but even for this purpose it is too biased for a complete list. The second category (those collections of <300 specimens) brings up the ever-present problem of sample size. The question of how many is enough cannot be avoided and McGovern’s choice of 300 as the cut off point for “enough” specimens is, he admits, arbitrary. In addition to sample size, there is usually the problem of comparability of different site types. In Greenland, this can largely be ignored because every site seems to have been a locus for almost any type of activity performed (butchery, smelting of metal, etc.), with the exception of the differences between common farmsteads and those of the ecclesiastical elite. Chronological problems, such as the lack of diachronic control in the earlier excavations, has been dealt with by assuming that the remains from the older collections belong to the later stratigraphic deposits (the last 100-150 years) of the recently excavated sites. The zoological problems encountered are the ones normally encountered: namely, differentiation between skeletally similar species, in this case between ovids and caprines (sheep and goat), between harp, common, and ringed seals, and between the relatively small Greenland cattle and large Greenland caribou (whose remains must sometimes receive the “large terrestrial mammal” classification). All of his data is conveniently presented in tables. Table 1 contains the relative percentages of major species (cattle, caprine, caribou, and seals). Two patterns are readily distinguishable from this table. First is the higher percentage of cattle remains at the Eastern Settlement sites than at the Western Settlement. On average, cattle (Bos taurus domesticus) make up about twice as much of the assemblages at Eastern Settlement sites than at Western Settlement sites. The second pattern is the opposite association of

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site Eastern Settlement Ø 17a upper Ø 17a lower Ø 71 N Ø 71 S Ø 149 (nunnery) Ø 167 mean n (late phase) Standard Dev. Coeff. Var. (%) Western Settlement V 35 V 48 III V 48 II V 48 I V 51 (Sandnes) V 52a V 53c V 53d V 54 V 59 mean Standard Dev.

cattle 16.36 13.23 15.48 11.48 16.84 22.96 16.66 5 4.12 24.73

caprine 23.53 25.31 37.47 44.08 16.50 38.98 32.11 5 11.58 36.06

caribou 4.79 8.96 .25 1.67 3.87 1.72 2.46 5 1.84 74.80

seals 55.12 52.50 46.81 42.78 62.79 36.34 48.77 5 10.38 21.28

6.70 1.15 2.04 2.96 17.57 10.75 7.82 8.78 8.77 3.72 8.16 4.89

22.47 9.11 11.14 11.21 12.44 18.02 14.21 13.17 29.77 13.00 16.52 6.69

13.51 4.75 4.93 6.56 32.08 27.28 10.79 18.81 20.79 18.70 18.34 8.78

57.32 84.99 81.89 79.27 37.92 43.94 67.18 59.25 40.67 64.58 56.98 15.82

Table 1 Relative Percentages of Major Species (comprise over 80% of Norse faunal assemblages) based on TNB (total number of
identified bone fragments). Seal bone percentages are inflated due to greater number of bones in the Phocid skeleton, and thus greater TNB, relative to the rest, but this should happen similarly for all sites listed. From McGovern 1985a:86.

site Eastern Settlement Ø 17a upper Ø 17a lower Ø 29 N Farm Ø 71 N Ø 71 S Ø 149 (nunnery) Ø 167 mean n (late phase) Standard Dev. Coeff. Var. (%) Western Settlement V 35 V 48 III V 48 II V 48 I V 51 (Sandnes) V 52a V 53c V 53d V 54 V 59 mean Standard Dev.

cattle/caprine ratio .70 .52 2.00 .41 .26 1.02 .59 .83 6 .63 75.9

cattle/caribou ratio 3.45 1.48 1.25 63.00 6.88 .43 13.38 14.73 6 24.11 163.7

.30 .13 .18 .26 1.41 .60 .55 .67 .29 .29 .53 .40

.50 .25 .41 .45 .55 .39 .73 .47 .42 .20 .44 .17

Table 2 Bone Ratio Data for Cattle/Caprines and Cattle/Caribou. From McGovern 1985a:87.

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site Eastern Settlement Ø 17a upper Ø 17a lower Ø 29 N Farm Ø 71 N Ø 71 S Ø 149 (nunnery) Ø 167 mean n (late phase) Standard Dev. Coeff. Var. (%) Western Settlement V 35 V 48 III V 48 II V 48 I V 51 (Sandnes) V 52a V 53c V 53d V 54 V 59 mean n (late phase) Standard Dev. Coeff. Var. (%)

harp 72.22 29.69 79.17 63.46 66.32 39.53 64.20 64.15 6 13.43 20.94

hooded 16.67 6.25 9.38 19.23 27.49 40.70 27.16 23.44 6 10.86 46.33

common 9.26 57.81 1.04 9.62 3.44 11.63 4.94 6.66 6 4.13 62.01

ringed 0 1.56 5.21 0 .34 2.33 2.47 1.73 6 2.05 118.50

bearded 1.85 4.69 5.21 7.69 2.41 5.81 1.23 4.03 6 2.58 64.02

65.52 55.33 58.29 58.01 68.73 65.22 61.11 70.79 64.29 39.00 61.25 8 10.14 16.56

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .71 .09 8 .25 277.78

25.86 38.67 39.20 40.88 25.06 26.34 25.93 16.85 26.19 54.61 29.94 8 11.59 38.71

1.72 0 0 .55 1.99 1.79 1.85 0 0 3.55 1.36 8 1.27 93.38

6.90 6.00 2.51 .55 4.22 6.65 11.11 12.36 9.52 2.13 7.36 8 3.45 46.88

Table 3 Relative Percentages of Seal Species (based on TNB counts). From McGovern 1985a:89.

caribou (Rangifer tarandus) remains at the two Settlements (more caribou at the Western Settlement than at the Eastern Settlement, by about 7 to 8 times). These relationships become more apparent in Table 2, “Bone ratio data.” The cattle/caribou ratio does indeed indicate more cattle per caribou at the Eastern Settlement (14.73) than the Western Settlement (.44). McGovern interprets this as a cultural preference for cattle over other animals, which could be more fully indulged by the wealthier, higher prestige farmstead owners (in the Eastern Settlement, there are two such farms, Brattahlid [or Ø29] and Ø149, versus the Western Settlement’s single V51 Sandnes). He finds support for this interpretation in other lines of evidence including architectural (byre capacity) and site territory analysis (pasturage area available). The sparseness of caribou in the Eastern Settlement assemblages may also simply reflect the biogeography of the caribou in this region. Another relationship apparent in Table 2 is the ratio of cattle to caprine remains. This, McGovern suggests, most likely is a result of a cultural preference for cattle over caprines, just as with the cattle/caribou ratio. Table 3 presents the relative percentages for the different seal species (harp, hooded, common, ringer, and bearded). Most notable is the almost complete absence of hooded seals

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(Cystophora cristata) at Western Settlement sites. This can be explained simply as reflective of the hooded seals’ migratory patterns, which took them past the Western Settlement far off of the shore, as they do today. The common seal (Phoca vitulina) is found much more rarely at Eastern Settlement sites than at Western Settlement sites, and this may simply reflect a change in climate which made the Eastern Settlement area less favorable to common seals. Harp seal remains (Phagophilus groenlandicus) are obviously ubiquitous at both Settlements, while ringed seals (Phoca hispida) and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) are far less represented in the assemblages. The scarcity of bearded seals can be accounted for due to their tendency to live far out on the ice sheets, which would require a feat of hunting that the Norse were at best amateurs at. Their higher abundance at the Western Settlement may reflect the degree of adaptability the Norse could attain in this more northerly of the two Settlements. The scarcity of the ringed seal, however, eludes explanation so far, being that it is caught regularly in both regions by modern hunters. Other species of note which McGovern discusses are whale, birds, fish, mollusks, walrus, polar bear, fox and hare. The last two make up a relatively small proportion of the Norse subsistence economy. They were probably caught in traps, not actively hunted. Whales and porpoises are represented in the assemblages by a few bones, likely from beached animals. They have been positively identified as being used as hoops for wooden barrels at Ø149 in the Eastern Settlement (Vebaek 1991: 71). The occasional beached whale may also have been used for food or raw material for tools. Unlike the Inuit, the Norse seemed to have lacked the technology for whale hunting. Birds also made up a small proportion of the Norse diet. The most common birds species were ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus), and various Alcid birds (puffins, guillemots, murres, dovekies, and razorbills). Falcon remains may represent the practice of falconry (mentioned in the Icelandic sagas) or the protection of livestock by the farmers from these predators. Smaller birds such as the redpoll may represent the stomach contents of falcons and eagles. Likewise, the few mussels (the only shellfish found) likely are the stomach contents of seals or another more abundant species. Fish are for the most part absent from the assemblages at both Settlements. This presents a kind of puzzle, for why would the Norse not fish when they are so near the coast? The possibility of biased recovery techniques can be ruled out for the sites excavated recently because they used screen sifting and wet sieving (sufficient to recover the small though not microscopic fish bones). Neither should preservation pose a problem, due to abundance of fish bones recovered from Norse sites in the

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North Atlantic region as well as the excellent preservation apparent at the Greenland sites for other ecofacts. It is further puzzling when considered that at Norse sites in Iceland, a similar ecological zone, fishing makes up a major part of their subsistence strategy (Buckland et al. 1996: Fig. 3). Perhaps, they fish remains were disposed of at a location separate from the other remains; perhaps they were dumped back into the ocean.. McGovern, however, accepts this scarcity as reflecting actual species abundance. The walrus and polar bear remains represent a particular aspect of the Norse economy. They were hunted in a region called the Nordrsetur, north of the Western Settlement. Every summer, a communally organized group of hunters paddled up the western coast to hunt these animals, which were necessary for trade with the European economy. Greenland was a periphery to the European economic system, and as such did not have a whole lot to offer the Scandinavian merchants except for exotic white furs and ivory tusks, which were highly valued by the higher echelons of European societies. This trade was necessary to the Norse Greenlanders because of the metal and other raw materials and manufactured goods which could not be found on the island, but which were necessary for survival (e.g. metal tools). The use of these animals for sources of trade goods, as opposed to their being part of the subsistence economy, is supported not only by historical documents, but also by specialized butchery patterns evident on the bones and within the bone assemblages. The most frequent bones of these animals found at Norse site include walrus maxillae (extracted in the Nordrsetur and taken back to the Settlement at the end of the season to have the tusks removed) and polar bear paw bones (which would have been left attached to the hide after it was quickly removed and put in the storage shed to be taken back to the Settlement for further processing). Elsewhere, issues of social structure and status differences are brought to the fore (McGovern & Jordan 1982). For example, seal catch distribution (p. 75) was apparently communal, for seal remains are found at sites further inland than others (in fact, whole seals skeletons have been recovered at these inland sites). This may be a result of communal sharing of the seal catch of coastal farmsteads with inland farmsteads or a communal aspect to the organization of seal hunting expeditions, which involved both inland and coastal communities. The presence of large deerhound bones at many sites (even small ones) suggests they were working animals “expected to earn their keep” (p. 76). McGovern proposes they were used in caribou hunting parties, much as dogs were used for that purpose in Europe. Dog bones are most abundant at the sites V51 Sandnes (the wealthiest farm in the Western Settlement) which, along with the

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higher proportion of caribou bone found at this site, suggests that the elite had much to do with the organization of the hunting party and the distribution of its yield of caribou, again paralleled by their contemporaries in Europe. Further support for this can be gained from the realization that V51 and V52a (another large farm with a high percentage of caribou bone) are not situated near any likely caribou jump stations, while other smaller farms are (McGovern 1980: 261). Likewise, greater numbers of walrus remains at the large farms suggest their greater involvement in the overseas trade in ivory and hides, which is largely confirmed in the Norse literature. Conclusion McGovern, Buckland, overall, were cautious in their dealings and presentation of the data and, for the most part, safe in their interpretations. However, many questions still remain pertaining to the life of the Norse in Greenland (the scarcity of fish remains and ringed seal remains at the Eastern and Western Settlements being the most obvious). As McGovern has pointed out (1985a), actual diet cannot be ascertained from the faunal assemblage. Further research into this area might focus on stable-isotope analysis of bone to shed more light on this subject. There are also many questions for which, so far, no attempts have been made to answer using faunal analysis, for example, the fascinating question of interaction between the Norse and the Inuit. To what extent, if any, did the Norse learn from the Inuit about subsistence in this icy frontier so different from Iceland and Norway, where the first settlers came from? What did they learn on their own? Research focusing on the Norse involvement further westward on Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island, Labrador and Newfoundland is also, at present, sparse. Perhaps the study of faunal remains, if they could be found, could contribute to this. The excellent conditions for preservation in Greenland have provided for a substantial database of faunal and floral data, unprecedented in most areas of the world. The fact alone makes the possibility of successful future research in this area optimistic. References
Bruun, D. (1896). Arkaeologiske undersøgelser i Julianehaabs Distrikt. Meddelelser om Grønland 16(1). Bruun, D. (1917). Oversigt over nordboruiner i Godthaab og Frederikshaab Distrikter. Meddelelser om Grønland 56(2).

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