Sunday, January 30, 2011
Ancient People of the Arctic
The main insight that the book offered to me was the notion of what makes a place a good place to live. Why would anyone choose to live in the Arctic? The answer apparently is availability of food. The Arctic was a place where you could catch lots of sea mammals and therefore have a diet rich in protein and fat. Climate was a secondary consideration. Nowadays, we think of places like Southern California as desirable places to live, based mostly on year-round pleasant temperatures. Perhaps, now that we can ship food from elsewhere and move water around to raise crops in the desert, but two thousand years ago the Canadian Arctic may have looked more attractive to a people that had the appropriate technology to exploit the food resources of the region and stay warm. Californians meanwhile were subsisting on a diet consisting mostly of grass seed and the occasional rabbit or deer.
The Arctic may well have been a homeland of choice rather than a consolation prize for late arrivals unable to move into territory already occupied by paleo Indians.