Inuit carving from Baffin Island, Nunavut

Type: Sculptures
Date: ca. 1350
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Canada
Medium: Wood
Dimensions: 5.4 × 1.9 × 0.9 cm
Description: Contact between Norse traders and Indigenous groups of North America dates back as early as the turn of the eleventh century. Excavations in the 1960s and 70s uncovered a Viking settlement and artifacts at L'Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland (Canada). In 2021, dendrochronological and carbon-14 analysis of wood worked at the site helped date this earliest and only authenticated Norse or Viking settlement in North America to around 1021.

This wooden figurine carved around 1350 and discovered at Baffin Island, Nunavut (Canada) offers additional evidence of contact between Norse traders and the Inuit, a group of Indigenous peoples who inhabit the arctic and subarctic regions of modern-day Greenland (Denmark), Canada, and Alaska (United States). Norse traders may have brought metal, cloth, and hardwood to Baffin Island in exchange for walrus ivory, which the Norse prized for use in carved tools. The figurine depicts an individual in non-Inuit dress with an incised cross on the chest. Other Norse artifacts from the region include chess pieces, chain mail, ship rivets, and woolen cloth.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 10
Image Credits: Reproduced with permission from the Canadian Museum of History.

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