Climate and the Thule Migration

Environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth from Brown University presents new evidence on when and why the Thule migrated across the High Arctic. Archeologists in the twentieth century argued that the Thule, ancestors to contemporary Inuit and Inupiat groups, spread from the Bering Strait region across the Canadian Arctic into Greenland between 1000 and 1300. That this migration coincided with the Medieval Warm Period led archeologists to conclude that the Thule followed bowhead whales, whose range was thought to have expanded under the warming climate. Yet, Professor Demuth argues that climate was less of a stimulus for the Thule migration than previously thought. Radiocarbon dating from new archeological sites places the Thule migration well into the Medieval Warm Period, making it less likely that a changing climate was the cause. Furthermore, genetic tests from marine biologists indicate that whaling possibilities did not expand much during this period. There is not one answer alone that has emerged to explain the Thule migration, but climate change is no longer the stimulus that it was once thought to be. Click here for the full article.