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Permafrost –“Preserving the cultural heritage of Greenland in a changing climate”


Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Archaeology and history
Project topic
Culture & history

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Fieldwork region
Greenland, South-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 64.1776368, -51.7456564

Fieldwork start
Fieldwork end

Project details

Science / project plan

Most pre-historical archaeological sites lack well-preserved organic artefacts because organic materials such as wood, bone, and DNA have been decomposed. However, at some archaeological kitchen middens in the Arctic, organic materials have been preserved due to a combination of high deposition rates, low or freezing temperatures and favorable hydrological (waterlogged) conditions. At these sites extraordinary and important organic archaeological materials have been found1 and the potential of these sites to provide further insight into the earliest human expansions and living conditions, are considered extremely important. Arctic ecosystems are expected to be subject to dramatic changes because future climate changes are predicted to be most pronounced at Northern latitudes. Increasing temperatures cause longer periods of ground thawing and altered precipitation patterns may result in the drying of near surface layers. Both factors could accelerate the deterioration of organic materials and increase the risk of losing the unique information stored in these archaeological sites. This project investigates how changes in soil temperatures and soil water content affects the preservation of organic materials from a number of archaeological sites located along two climatic transects.

Site: Nuuk Area

PI: Jørgen Hollesen