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MoG Man & Society vol. 9             Order this book on-line

Buchwald, V. F. and Mosdal, G. 1985.
Meteoritic iron, telluric iron and wrought iron in Greenland.
49 pp. 68 figs. 15 tables. 80 DKK.

Seventyfour iron objects have been randomly selected from the Greenland archaeological material accumulated in Copenhagen since about 1850. The objects comprise knives, ulos and harpoon blades from most of West Greenland but also include several unworked fragments and some "hammerstones". The objects have been subjected to microscopic and X-ray microanalytic studies to determine their origin and mode of fabrication. The objects fall into three distinct groups. North of the Melville Bugt a majority of the tools have been produced from small fragments of the Cape York iron meteorite shower, that fell near Savigsivik more than 2000 years ago. Some of the meteoritic iron was carried across Smith Sund and as far as Hudson Bay, while transport south along the Greenland coast apparently was more sporadic. In the Disko Bugt area half of the objects may be traced to the occurrences of basalt with pea-sized iron inclusions, while the other half has been made of wrought iron. In the south all ten objects were produced from wrought iron. Some of the wrought iron tools originate from Norse settlements and have apparently been carried as far north as 76-77 by Norse ships as early as the 12th century. Other wrought iron tools have been introduced by whalers, probably mainly of Dutch, Spanish and British origin, after about 1575 A.D. Some tools may have been manufactured from iron nails, and fittings from wrecked ships. No signs of indigenous iron production have been detected.