THE NORTH ATLANTIC RIM, BARRIER OR BRIDGE?
Suzanne O. Carlson
For Sea rovers, the highways are marked by waves below and clouds above. Aided by the sun and the stars, we c
an guess that the earliest skippers followed the icy rim edge in wooden dugouts or skin clad
craft. Food was abundant on the edge of the pack ice: seal, walrus, fish, big and little, birds and their eggs. As the rebounding land emerged, other ocean-loving mammals followed the fish, otters, and the great white bear appeared. Arctic berries clung close to the ground while millions of cawing sea birds clung to bare rocky cliffs.
Historians and archaeologists talk of immigrants moving north into the newly exposed rich northern Tundra both in Europe and North America. But it was not until Guthorm Gjessing, Norwegian archaeologist and ardent diffusionist, noticed a striking similarity between the cultural remains in Norway and the Maritime Archaic or red paint people of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes that the Atlantic rim connection was made. Style and technique of worked stone and the use of skin boats for deep-sea fishing and red ochre in burials were common. Impossible some say, but others–usually those with salt in their blood–think otherwise and see the fish-laden pack ice as a bridge not a barrier to traveling around the North Atlantic rim.
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By Suzanne Carlson