The Nature of the Earliest Thule Migrations
Publication Type:Conference Paper
The earliest Thule migrations into Arctic Canada took the form of small-scale, very rapid population movements aimed at Lancaster Sound. They appear to have been attracted by the unusually rich bowhead whale stocks of the area, which they and their descendants continued to exploit during classic Thule times. Palaeoenvironmental data, however, do not suggest that Thule hunters in any way 'followed' the whales during an expansive Neo-Atlantic climatic episode. Rather, to get to Lancaster Sound they had to cross a 1000 kilometres of essentially uninhabitable wasteland. How early Thule hunters learned what lay on the other side of that wasteland, and how they and their families successfully crossed it, will never be known in detail, but it is one of the great accomplishments of human history.