Saqqaq culture

The Saqqaq culture was a prehistoric culture in Greenland of about 2400-800 BC. The culture was named after the place Saqqaq in Disko Bay. In addition to the field of Disko Bay are other important areas of the Fund Sisimiut district and the fjords of Nuuk area. However, extended culture in West Greenland from Thule District in the north to Nanortalik District in the south, in East Greenland from south to Scoresby Sound in the north. The Saqqaq culture of 1,600 years duration represents the majority of prehistoric sites in Greenland. She disappeared probably due to air cooling.


One of the main prey of the culture bearers were marine mammals, which, inter alia, will be closed from bones found in a dwelling-place in Disko Bay. However, extensive excavations showed that the representatives of the Saqqaq culture from all ecological niches Greenland drew. In Qeqertasussuk bones were found of not less than 45 vertebrate species, as well as shellfish. Also, traces of plant foods such as berries were found. Through specialized and complex hunting tools all the species were hunted: marine mammals of large whales to the ringed seals, land mammals such as reindeer, birds in large numbers and large fish such as cod and char.


In the dwellings of the Saqqaq culture there was a center aisle and a central fireplace. Findings suggest that there were oil lamps made ​​of stone, which served as a heat and light source.

The largest houses were 6 m long and 3-4 m wide. They were probably in the cold season the apartment for two families or a large family. We have also found simple round places for tents. Nowhere were found longhouses or other large meeting building.

At locations where caribou herds or marine mammals passing by on their walks, there were many huts that were inhabited simultaneously by the finding situation. Obviously, the Saqqaq people met one of the highlights of the hunting season, when a rich food supply was guaranteed, regularly in larger groups.

Crafts and Commodities

The permafrost has received numerous finds from organic materials - wood, bone, antler, ivory, skin - proving the excellent craftsmanship of the Saqqaq. The quality of the woodwork was later surpassed by any other culture. The abundance of driftwood that had been collected since the end of the last ice age over several thousand years to the raised beaches, demonstrated by the fact that it was extensively used as firewood.

The preferred material for stone tools was a gray metamorphic schist killiaq. The primary sources for this slate were the Disko Bay and the Nuussuaq area where huge mining sites were found. In some areas or times were used instead of killiaq also quartzite or regional variants flint -like minerals, called ammaq - such as chalcedony, agate, rock crystal, etc. - used for tools. In particular, scrapers and microliths from these rare materials were made ​​by hand.

Commodity exchange

The inhabitants of the Saqqaq culture exchange on a large scale from valuable goods. Mineral raw materials such as agate from Northwest Greenland were found in the entire range of Saqqaq culture. The soapstone lamp were found at most locations on the west coast of Greenland, although soapstone occurs in sufficiently good quality only in the Thule district, in the eastern part of the Nuuk fjord system. A particular variety of the yellow mineral Kiliiaq, which occurs only on the dogs Islands in the southern Disko Bay was widespread. Were also traded antlers and ivory.

Genetic relationship

Near the Disko Bay the remains of a member of Saqqaq culture were found, who lived there about 4000 years ago. Its in permafrost preserved DNA that was sequenced to 79 percent, it is not pointed out as relatives of the now living in North America Inuit or Native American, but as relatives now living in northeastern Siberia peoples: the haplotype found HgD2 also occurs in Chukchi, Buryat, Evenki and Yakuts on.