Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Co-production of scientific knowledge and the building of local archeological capacity in Greenland (Award# 1821284)

PI: McGovern, Thomas H (
Phone: (212) 772.5654 
Institute/Department: City University of New York, Hunter College, Department of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Erica Hill (
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This project builds upon prior NSF-supported work to understand the interactions of humans, landscape, seascape, and climate in the region since humans occupied Greenland. The work is given additional urgency as there is rapid loss of once well-preserved organic remains due to rising soil temperatures and accelerated coastal erosion. The work will directly build local Greenlandic capacity so that the key Greenlandic partner, Greenland National Museum and Archives (NKA) can improve long-term site management preserving the ability to study these and other sites in the future. The threat extends to all periods and extends to cemeteries and structural ruins. New laboratory studies making use of stable isotopes, trace elements, and ancient DNA demonstrate the value of archaeological sites as a "distributed observing network of the past" for collaborative interdisciplinary socio-environmental research. This work contributes to a long-standing relationship developed in 2004 between the US, Greenland, and Denmark to advance common projects and encourage cooperation across a diverse range of policy areas including science, culture, and the environment. Greenland has shown particular interest in projects that develop knowledge about its cultural past. The project will work closely with the Greenlandic hosts and other international partners to rescue urgently endangered archaeological sites, gather a wide range of paleoecological data, and collaborate with modern communities eager to save their heritage while co-producing knowledge and participating directly in global change science. The project will excavate three Norse cemeteries to recover human remains that now produce dietary evidence (i.e., nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes, dental calculus analysis), evidence of migration from Iceland (e.g., strontium isotopes) and family relationships (via ancient DNA). The project will also excavate animal bones, insects, wood remains, and artifacts from stratified Norse middens at three sites that still retain organic preservation. Expanded site survey using drones and mapping GPS, coring of lake and bog deposits for pollen, insects, and macrofloral remains, professional medial documentation to produce education and outreach products, and an expanded geo-archaeology program to assess Norse field and farm management strategies are all part of the project. A key element will be the engagement of early career students and professionals and the close collaboration with schools and local residents focused upon the early Moravian mission and settlement site of Alluitsoq/Lichtenau, which was a major center for cross-cultural contact and the development of a distinctive Greenlandic culture in the 18th- early 20th centuries.

Logistics Summary:
During three years of field work, this project "Threatened Science & Heritage in Greenland: response and capacity building (RESPONSE)" will undertake an international, interdisciplinary effort to build upon prior NSF-supported work in Greenland carried out by the NABO research and education cooperative in Greenland and the North Atlantic (NSF grants 0732327, 1119354 and1202692). Researchers intend to intensively excavate known midden deposits and a cemetery that is known to still have organic remains preserved. In these excavations, the intent is to attempt a full excavation of one early Norse cemetery that has produced human remains still providing a good basis for a coordinated full spectrum bioarchaeology analysis program. In each year of the project (2020-22) a team of approximately twenty US participants will travel to Greenland via the ANG to Kangerlussuaq and then on to Nuuk and Narsarsuaq via commercial air. During the majority of the summer field season the team will base in Narsarsuaq where they will travel to the sites via a chartered boat where they will conduct full excavations of a Norse cemetery, as well as extensive exploratory surveys and and other small scale excavations.

CPS will provide ANG coordination for passengers and cargo, lodging at KISS and in Nuuk, commercial travel and freight between Kangerlussuaq and Narsarsuaq, and camp and safety equipment from CPS inventory. All other support, including logistics in Narsarsuaq, will be paid for by the PI from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2020Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 15 / 2020 08 / 28 / 202020
2020Greenland - Narsarsuaq06 / 15 / 2020 08 / 28 / 202020
2020Greenland - Nuuk06 / 15 / 2020 08 / 28 / 202020
2021Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 15 / 2021 08 / 28 / 202120
2021Greenland - Narsarsuaq06 / 15 / 2021 08 / 28 / 202120
2021Greenland - Nuuk06 / 15 / 2021 08 / 28 / 202120
2022Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 15 / 2022 08 / 28 / 202220
2022Greenland - Narsarsuaq06 / 15 / 2022 08 / 28 / 202220
2022Greenland - Nuuk06 / 15 / 2022 08 / 28 / 202220

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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1821284", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1