New research builds old assumptions about what the ancestors of today's inuit learned from the Vikings settlers.
Technique researchers have developed shows that ancient Dorset and Thule people knew how to twist twine hundreds before the Norwegians believed they had learned them, changing how archaeologists think of arctic history.
"There is much we do not know," said Michele Hayeur Smith from Brown University in Rhode Island, leading author of a new paper in the Journal of Archeological Science.  Hayeur Smith and her colleagues watched yarn scrapers, which perhaps used to hang amulets or decorate clothes from old places on Baffin Island and the Ungava peninsula.
The idea that you should learn to spin something from another culture was a little ridiculous. It's a pretty intuitive thing to do. ̵1; Michele Hayeur Smith, Brown University
The origin of the yarn spun from animal hair and tendons had disappeared for arctic researchers for generations. Most believed that it was a skill gathered from Viking colonists who sailed west from Greenland and established a community on Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland about 1000 years ago.
Hayeur Smith, who specialized in the study of antique textiles, had her doubts.
At first, the yarn did not look like she had seen this year investigating Norwegian fibers. Secondly, why should people in the Arctic – highly qualified dressers – need to learn such a basic technique from someone else?
"The idea that you should learn to spin something from another culture was a little ridiculous," she said. "It's a pretty intuitive thing to do."
The problem was that the yarn was difficult to date. The parts were full of oil from whales and seals, and all impregnated with marine mammals has been almost impossible to date.
Fibers Shampooed & # 39; and carbon-dated
Co-author Gorill Nilsen at Tromsø University in Norway came up with a way to "shampoo" the oil out of the fibers without damaging them. Some fibers from a location on the southern coast of Baffin were then exposed to the latest cold date methods.
The results were jaw-dropping, said co-author Kevin Smith of Brown University.
"They clustered in a period from about 100 AD to about 600-800 AD – about 1000 years to 500 years before the folds ever appeared. [The Dorset] manipulates the types of fibers you find in your environment at least equal early as 100 BC. "
In fact, the Vikings may have picked up some tricks from Thule.
It's not crucial, but Hayeur Smith said there are some evidence that Norwegian weavers learned to use hair from bears and foxes, and from sheep and goats.
People do not spend much time thinking about this as a valid form of material culture – Michele Hayeur Smith, why clothing manufacturing is important
Shampoo Technology that is pioneering on yarn can have major consequences for all Arctic archeology. Sea mammal oil was everywhere in old campsites, which reduces the reliability of standard dating methods. And dating is everything in archeology.
"There are many questions like in the Arctic – to get the benefits when people moved to certain areas," Smith said. "How did they move? What are the migration patterns?" Until we get good computer technicians, we can not even handle it. "
The study also underscores the importance of studying textiles in addition to the traditional focus on rock tools and hunting, Hayeur Smith said.
"People do not spend much on thinking about this as a valid form of material culture that represents something else," she said.
"Protecting yourself, protecting yourself is as important as eating."