REMAINS of Greenland

REsearch and Management of Archaeological sites IN a changing environment and Society

Archaeological sites in Greenland represent an irreplaceable record of unusually well-preserved material remains covering over 4000 years of human history. The cold climate has offered unique preservation possibilities and several extraordinary finds of organic remains such as wood, bone, textile, fur and ancient DNA have been made. Out of the almost 6000 archaeological sites currently registered in the Greenland Heritage Database, only very few have been excavated and it is anticipated that thousands of sites are awaiting discovery in the unexplored parts of the country. The potential of archaeological sites in Greenland to provide further spectacular finds and thus novel contributions to the understanding Greenland’s and Arctic history is therefore very high. However, it is only a matter of time before this potential diminishes. Climate change is detrimentally affecting preservation conditions, which is leading to an accelerated destruction of archaeological sites. It is therefore urgent to identify and classify the different threats posed by climate change in order to act in due time and safeguard important parts of Greenland’s history.

REMAINS of Greenland is initiated as a direct response to these threats and to the enormous challenge the National Museum of Greenland is currently facing.

Photos: National Museum of Denmark

The project is a co-operation between The National Museum of Denmark, The Greenland National Museum and Archives  and Center for Permafrost (CENPERM) at University of Copenhagen and is built on the experiences of several previous collaborative projects. The project group consists of a team of experienced researchers, young researchers and students. The project focuses on the Nuuk region in South West Greenland, which is the part of Greenland with the highest density and variety of archaeological sites and where the effects of climatic change are already visible.


The project is structured in two integrated Work Packages:


WP1Studies of site and artefact degradation


WP2: Regional risk assessment and development of guidelines


The project run from 2016 to 2019 years and is funded by the VELUX FOUNDATION

Aims of the project

  • To advance the basic understanding of how climate change influence the preservation of archaeological sites and organic artefacts

  • To develop research based cultural resource management tools for locating sites at risk

  • To develop strategies for dealing with threatened sites in Greenland

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