blog, Living in Greenland, Travel


Ilerfuvoq: lies burried

Either this post will make you cringe, or fascinate you. For me if was definitely the latter. I was amazed to see skulls and bones lying out in the “open”. The place where the photos were taken were essentially a graveyard – a place where truly the dead were burried. The location I will keep a secret, since at one time their location was marked on a map – but tourists would go and take the bones.

Who takes bones?! It’s creepy and very inconsiderate given how historically incredible it is the the Arctic climate could perserve such remains of human existence. Although I am not quite sure,  given my tiny knowledge about archaelogy and it seems hard to verify the information, I was told that they could be over 4,000 years old.


Human Settlement in the Icefjord Area

People probably walk along the graveyard without realizing that they are tracing steps of history. If you look back in time, scientists believe that three different peoples have inhabited the area:

• The Saqqaq people from approx. 2400 B.C. to around 900 A.D.
• The Dorset people from approx. 800 B.C. to around 0 A.D.
• The Thule people from around 1200 A.D.

Chronology of the different cultures that have colonised Greenland, and a generalised climate curve for the last 4500 years.


Now, within the Ilulissat Icefjord World Heritage Sitesite is a protected area called Sermermiut, which was an Inuit settlement in the Disko Bay, Greenland. Sermermiut in Greenlandic means ‘the place of the glacier people’.

The last settler to live in Sermermiut was in 1850, afterwards they moved to Ilulissat. The bones are only several piece of evidence that there were settlers as far back as 4,000 years ago. The museum is a great place to learn more about the chonology of human settlement. They have preserved many tools that were used for hunting and daily life.


Finding and seeing the skulls and bones has prompted me to learn more about the history of human settlement and the way the people adapted to the changing harsh Arctic climate.