Historic find in Igoolik
Pre-Dorset artifacts revealed

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

IGLOOLIK (Sep 14/98) - Work at Igoolik's airport this summer has led to important archeological finds.

That's the word from Dr. Susan Rowley, who is now back in Pittsburgh, PA, after spending Aug. 18 to Sept. 3 excavating the sites.

"We found a new type of soapstone lamp for that period," she said. "The new form is similar to the semi-lunar (shaped) lamp."

Before this summer's work, Rowley says, this shape of lamp was only thought to be in use from about 700 years ago. Now, thanks to the find, we've learned the Pre-Dorset --the people some archeologists believe were here before the Inuit -- used the same shape between 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.

"It's important because it's an entirely new style," she says. "It adds substantially to our knowledge of what these people were doing at the time... It makes us re-evaluate our ideas of how people were living."

Rowley, who is a freelance archeologist, was hired by the GNWT's department of transportation to do the work. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Rowley first came North to undertake archaeological work in the 1970s.

Since 1987, she's been teaching an annual course in her trade at the high school in Igoolik. And, the community's Lucy MacDonald served as her field assistant this summer.

All told, Rowley says they worked on a total of five homes, one as large as four metres by seven metres. Besides the lamps, animal bones, tools, knives and scrapers were among the artifacts recovered.

With the work in Igoolik done for the year, Crowley now had to prepare a report on her findings. Once completed, this will be made available to the GNWT, the community and Inuit officials.

The artifacts are owned in trust by the people of Nunavut.

The work falls under the category of urgent or salvage archeology. Had Crowley not been called in, the priceless sites might have been forever lost to history while building the road necessary for the airport upgrade.