Ilulissat

Sep 06, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer


After crossing Baffin Bay from Nunavut, we arrived in Ilulissat on Disko Bay, on the west coast of Greenland. Parking proved a little difficult and required the intervention of two Zodiacs to nudge a small iceberg out of the way before the ship could be berthed.

Our destination was the nearby Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boat tours took us among the fjord’s icebergs, past multiple pods of humpback whales, and by a solitary minke whale.

We visited the Sermermiut archaeological site which overlooks the icefjord. The site has played a key role in establishing the archaeological chronology of Greenland. Occupied for more than 4,000 years, first by the Saqqaq, then the Dorset and, finally, the Thule, it was ultimately abandoned in 1850, after cooling temperatures caused the ice to advance so far that seal hunting became impossible.

After exploring the town, we returned to the ship, cruising past icebergs and humpback whales en route to Kangaamiut Kangerluarsuat, our next destination.

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About the Author

Lynda Gullason

Cultural Specialist

Canadian archaeologist Lynda Gullason's area of research is the Thule and Historic Inuit occupation of the Arctic over the past thousand years, in particular the kinds of interactions these people had with the various European cultures they encountered and the challenge of seeing this contact archaeologically. She draws on the intersecting fields of archaeology, history, ethnohistory, and most recently, geochemistry, to do so.

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