Fossil insect evidence for the end of the Western Settlement in Norse Greenland

Eva Panagiotakopulu, P. Skidmore, P. Buckland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fate of Norse farming settlements in southwest Greenland has often been seen as one of the great mysteries of North Atlantic colonization and expansion. Preservation of organic remains in the permafrost of the area of the Western Settlement, inland from the modern capital Nuuk, allowed very detailed study of the phases of occupation. Samples were taken from house floors and middens during the process of archaeological excavations and from insect remains were abstracted and identified in the laboratory. In this study, we present a new paleoecological approach principally examining the fossil fly faunas from house floors. The results of our study provide contrasting detailed pictures of the demise of two neighboring farms, Gården under Sandet and Nipaatsoq, one where abandonment appears as part of a normal process of site selection and desertion, and the other where the end was more traumatic. The level of detail, which was obtained by analysis of the dipterous (true fly) remains, exceeds all previous work and provides insights otherwise unobtainable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalThe Science of Nature
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • Greenland
  • Norse
  • Diptera
  • Ectoparasites
  • Abandonment


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