Our history goes 4500 years back, with several cultures immigrating to the country from Siberia through Alaska and Canada, and later from Europe.
At Sermermiut, just a few kilometers from Ilulissat, the following cultures lived: Saqqaq, Dorset, and Thule. Many visitors come from all over the entire world to see this historic place. It doesn’t just have an interesting story, it also has one of the world’s best views!
No one lives here today, but the first to live here were the Saqqaq between 2400 – 700 BCE. This culture is named after a village located further north and where the first findings of these peoples occurred. The Saqqaq culture disappeared when the next culture, the Dorset, came from north to south. The Dorset arrived around 800 BCE and disappeared in year 0. This may have had something to do with a drop in the temperature at that time. The last culture to arrive was the Thule in 1100 CE. They lived in Sermermiut until the 1850s before moving to where Ilulissat is today. They are the ancestors of modern Greenlanders.
Sermermiut is part of a UNESCO Site
In Greenland, we have three areas on the UNESCO World Heritage list. One of these is here at the Ilulissat Icefiord. The fjord is 70 kilometers long and, as you can see in the picture above, it is very beautiful. There is a boardwalk going right to this spot, where you can walk on your own. Or, if you would like to hear the history and see old graves with the skulls of our ancestors, you can book a guided tour.
Everything is very well preserved because of the permafrost. Hence, it is still possible to tell that someone lived here 4,500 years ago by drilling through the earth. There are layers that include artifacts from the different peoples, and layers where it is evident there was no one living in the location. Sermermiut was particularly special and popular with the different cultures as it is located in a valley and has a beach where they could drag their catch. The icebergs in the Icefjord also released oxygen into the water resulting in lots of plankton, fish, seals, and whales.
Although Greenlanders lived in sealskin tents during Summer, they lived in turf huts during the Winter. The hut above is a modern version with a door and a window. Back in the days, they would make a little tunnel where they could crawl in, which would descend and then rise again into the building. This was to retain heat because, as we know, the cold stays low while heat rises. The window was also made by the seal’s stomach, stretched and dried. They couldn´t see out but the sunlight could come in.