Lecture: Some of the groups of ancient people: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an anthropology class. Professor: You've been reading about some of the groups of ancient people who occupy the eastern Canadian Arctic, and northern Greenland in the past few thousands of years. And today, I want to talk about two of them. Now, as we all know, these regions in the far north are extremely cold and surviving in them is a huge challenge, even today. So, one of the things that is interesting about these two cultures is that one of them survived and the other disappeared. And that's what I want us to think about. Anyway, let's take a look at the map of the area we're talking about: northeastern North America and Greenland. Here's the general area, okay? So the first group I want to talk about is the people that anthropologists call the Dorset. So what did you learn about the Dorset from your reading? Female Student: That they could build houses out of snow and they hunted, wait ... Male Student: The books said they hunted everything, except whales. Professor: Right. They hunted nearly all the animals in their area for food. This includes birds, bears, and sea mammals like seals and walruses. But you're right. They didn't hunt whales. And as far as the snow houses are concerned, that's true. And they were very useful. See, the Dorset generally moved with the seasons to follow the animals they needed for food. So, their shelters were temporary ones, often made out of sod or animal skin. But sometimes when following the animals, they might wind up in places where sod and animal skin weren't available and that is when they built snow houses. We also know that the Dorset made tools from iron. They found the iron from meteorites in the area. So the Dorset survived this way in the Arctic for thousands of years. Male Student: But they've eventually disappeared, right? Professor: Yes, their population began to shrink starting about one thousand years ago. Within a few centuries, they have disappeared completely. As their population was declining, they were gradually replaced by another group, which is the other group I wanted to talk about: the Thule people. But I have to say, it's not at all clear that the arrival of the Thule was the reason for the decline of the Dorset. The Thule came from the west, from Alaska and began expanding eastward into the Canadian Arctic. They reached Greenland about two hundred years later in about AD 1,200. Male Student: Wait, did you say the arrival of the Thule was not the reason for the decline of the Dorset? Professor: It could have been, but we don't know. The Thule were more technologically sophisticated than the Dorset, that's pretty clear. They knew how to build boats. The Dorset didn't and that allowed them to hunt large whales. And whales, by the way, are probably what encouraged the Thule to keep moving eastward from Alaska into Canada and Greenland. What happened was that about one thousand years ago, the Arctic climate began to warm, causing the a lot of ice that covered the sea to melt which in turn allowed whales to move into eastern Arctic waters. The Thule pretty much just followed the whales, moving farther and farther east. The Thule had also developed special spears. Spears with floats attached so they can get them back easily and reuse them. And there were other things that the Thule had and the Dorset didn't: the bow and arrow, sleds pulled by dogs. All these factors probably played a role in the Thule expansion into Dorset territory. Yes, Rachel? Rachel: I thought I read in our book that the Thule borrowed some ideas from the Dorset, right? Professor: Sure, like ... ? Rachel: Sure, the snow house and something about the tools. Professor: The snow house, sure, it probably contributed to the Thule survival because a few hundred years after the Thule had settled into the northeastern Canada in Greenland, the Warm Period ended. So the Thule might have needed snow houses. And they may also have learned to get iron from meteorites to get iron tools from the Dorset. So your point about borrow ideas is a really good one and what I've been trying to get at. We may not know why the Dorset disappeared, but what we do know is that the Thule were adaptable. They knew how to take advantage of changing conditions. They learned from other people, borrowing certain ideas that ultimately may have proved very useful.