CENPERM seminar – University of Copenhagen

CENPERM seminar

Vegetation at Archaeological sites in the Nuuk Region.
Rasmus Fenger-Nielsen, PhD student, CENPERM/IGN/REMAINS National Museum of Denmark

Climate change related processes are leading to an accelerated destruction of archaeological sites in the Arctic. These include the development of denser vegetation, which is believed to threaten archaeological kitchen middens in Greenland. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, root infiltration causes physical damage to buried artefacts and destruction of site stratigraphy. Secondly, evapotranspiration influences the soil water conditions and increases the risk of the soil drying out during the summer period. A dry soil may increase the amount of oxygen that diffuses into the cultural layers and ultimately cause a microbiological degradation of these.

Vegetation cover in terms of species and density has been found to vary between the archaeological kitchen middens and the ambient natural soil in the Nuuk region. In August 2016, we conducted a fieldwork in the Nuuk region. One objective was to collect data enabling us to characterize the kitchen middens related to the ambient natural soil at five different sites. A multi-scale approach was used, where detailed vegetation analyses and soil samples were collected at plot level, and drones equipped with a multispectral camera were used to map the sites in a high spatial resolution. In the coming months, we plan to analyze samples and drone images and afterwards relate the results to coarser resolution satellite imagery with the purpose of upscaling to cover the Nuuk region.

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