Category: Greenland

Symptoms of atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries, have been detected in the mummified remains of four Inuit adults who lived in Greenland about 500 years ago. The recent study used computerized tomography to examine the bodies of the two men, who are thought to have been between 18 and 22 and 25 and 30 at the time of death, and two women, who died sometime between the ages of 16 and 18 and 25 and 30, and one infant. Three of the four adults showed evidence of arterial calcification. Increased gunk in arteries can lead to life-threatening conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.

These Inuit’s atherosclerosis is a surprising find because current health theories suggest that a diet rich in marine foods and omega-3 fatty acids, such as that eaten by preindustrial-era Inuit peoples, would offer protection from arterial calcification. The individuals’ entire circulatory systems were not preserved, however, so the researchers were not able to determine the full extent of the damage to their arteries. The scientists also noted that heavy exposure to smoke from indoor fires may have outweighed the heart-health benefits of an active lifestyle and fatty-fish-based diet.

VIKING AGE GREENLAND: 

GREENLAND was drawn into the Viking Age and settled by Norse Vikings in the late 980s CE, their presence there lasting into the 15th century CE. Despite its ice-riddled geography, the Norse managed to carve out a living for themselves in these unforgiving lands by seeking out verdant pockets along the south-western coast, founding both the so-called Eastern Settlement (which is located, confusingly, in the south of West-Greenland) and the Western Settlement, some 650 km further north along the west coast in the present-day Nuuk region.

Around 75% of Greenland’s immense surface – which totals around 1,350,000 square km, making it the world’s largest island – is covered by inland ice, which gangs up with slabs of drift ice floating along the coasts to make any sane person think twice about moving there just for fun. Glaciers and mountains function as natural boundaries, making inland travel far from straight-forward. With a mostly arctic climate boasting mean temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius in the warmest months with only some of its areas poking above this, Greenland is not exactly ideal for growing such staples as grain, and there are few trees.

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