Dorset Culture

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dorset Culture


an ancient Eskimo culture (from the beginning of the first millennium B.C. to the beginning of the second millennium A.D.) discovered in 1925 on Cape Dorset, Baffin Island. The Dorset culture was widespread in far northeastern Canada, the Canadian arctic archipelago, and western and northeastern Greenland. It is characterized by small swiveled harpoon heads with a rectangular shaft socket, two barbs on the side or one barb in the middle, and small holes for a line; harpoons and needles; a predominance of chipped-stone implements over polished; stone lamps; and bone, ivory, and wood sculpture with carved linear decoration. The tribes of the Dorset culture hunted seal, walrus, and caribou. Five periods in the culture’s development have been established; the last period displays traits of the Eskimo Thule culture and the neighboring Indian tribes. The Dorset and Thule cultures in northeastern Canada and Greenland coexisted between A.D. 800 and 1200, after which the Dorset culture was replaced by the Thule culture.


Meldgaard, J. “Dorset kulturen. Den Dansk-Amerikanske ekspedition til Arktisk Canada.” Kuml, 1955.
Bandi, H. G. Urgeschichte der Eskimo. Stuttgart, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Non-Fiction / Arctic History /1nuit Culture / Dorset Culture
Wintemberg, "Eskimo Sites of the Dorset Culture in Newfoundland," American Antiquity 2 (1939): 83-103; Erwin, "A Prehistoric Soapstone Quarry," 43.
Neither the Thule nor the earlier Arctic colonists, who created tools and figurines typical of what's called Dorset culture by around 3,000 years ago, display a genetic connection to current Native American groups living south of the Arctic, the scientists report in the Aug.
By about 500 BC, the Dorset culture had developed from the first inhabitants.
Trends and ontology of artistic practices of the Dorset Culture 800 BC-1300 AD.
Some of these, Hawkes believed, belonged to the Tunnit, a people known to Inuit as the semimythical first inhabitants of their lands, and to many Arctic archaeologists as bearers of the ancient Dorset culture. His investigations continued in this manner for the duration of Cluett's outward journey, a Cook's tour that took the party along the southern shores of Baffin Island, across the Strait to Cape Wolstenholme, at the eastern entrance to Hudson Bay, then down the Bay's east side and up the west from Eskimo Point to Chesterfield Inlet before heading homeward via Coats and Mansel Islands.
In this regard, McGhee (1996:118) has summarized the marine mammal-oriented subsistence economy of Dorset culture, noting that "more extensive sea ice and a longer period during which this hunting platform was available may well have produced a more efficient and productive economy" relative to earlier Paleoeskimo cultures.
Early Paleoeskimos, the first people to occupy the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and adjacent mainland coastal regions, are generally referred to as the Pre-Dorset culture in the Central Canadian Arctic, and Late Paleoeskimos are known as the Dorset culture. The latter is thought to have derived from the former about 2500 (14) C years BP (henceforth BP) and to have been replaced by Neoeskimos from the Bering Strait region about 700-1000 BP.
Elmer Harp Jr., 96, a Dartmouth College anthropologist who inspired many undergraduates to a career in Arctic archaeology and established the Alaskan roots of Eastern Arctic Dorset culture, died in Hanover, New Hampshire, on 2 June 2009.
Although the Paleoeskimos are known by various cultural names, in the central Canadian Arctic the early Paleoeskimo groups are generally referred to as the Pre-Dorset culture, and the late groups, as the Dorset culture. The Dorset culture is thought to have derived from the Pre-Dorset in the Canadian Arctic about 2500 [.sup.14]C years BP and to have been replaced by Neoeskimos from the Bering Strait region between 1000 and 700 [.sup.14]C years BP.
While some of these differences, such as the relationship between Independence II and the Dorset culture, continue to divide opinion on basic issues of culture history, Jensen's work promotes more recent endeavors to bridge such gaps.
The absence of dwelling structures with a well-defined box hearth, the introduction of soapstone vessels, and the abandonment of the bow and arrow by the site's occupants at Nipisat during the latest phase of the occupation are convincingly cited as evidence for cultural affinities with the succeeding Dorset culture in Central West Greenland.