Greenland Norse/Inuit Collapse



Even though the Greenland Norse civilization collapsed by deforestation, they also collapsed by loss of trade and attacks by the inuits, who survived by avoiding these complications.
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  • has been inhabited off and on for the past 4,500 years
  • Norsemen settled on the uninhabited southern part in the beginning of 10th century and their colonies disappeared in 15th century
  • Inuits arrived in the 13th century
  • Area is 2,166,086 km2
  • Denmark established sovereignty over island after Greenland and Scandinavia came into contact with each other again


The major reason the Greenland Norse civilization collapsed was because of deforestation. They destroyed their environment in three ways: destroying natural vegetation, impacting soil erosion, and cutting turf. They burned their woodlands to clear land for pastures and cut down trees for firewood. The trees then could not regenerate because the animals prevented it. Another huge impact on the civilization was the climate change, which they needed the wood to heat their homes. On the other hand, the Inuits were smarter and easily got through the deforestation struggle. Instead of cutting down and destroying their forests in the harsh climate changes, they used blubber to heat and light their homes. Where Greenland went wrong was clearing out all their natural vegetation out for farming, or up keeping their homes in the cold. The Inuits kept their forests and vegetation to keep their society a whole, while the Norse civilization crumbled their foundation and lost a key sense of trade.

Loss of Trade

Greenland Norse's trade loss was greatly influenced from the Inuit civilization. Greenland's neighboring country was Norway, in which their trade routes were unstable or not formed, the Inuits became a prime and easy trading partner who has easy connections to Norway. But, the Inuits chose to decline Greenland's appeal at trade and saw them as an enemy, rather than a neighboring civilization and chose to attack. This had a direct, and clear impact on Norse's collapse. Norse could have easily worked around it by trying to get a connection with the Inuits, or simply finding other trade routes to Norway. This simply could have expanded their currency and would have prevented the attack from the Inuits, and all around pushed back the collapse of the Norse civilization longer.

Attacks from Neighboring Civilations

Revisiting the idea of the Inuits attacking the Norse, they did not create an alliance with them which made the Inuits feel threatened causing the invasion. A relationship all in all would have saved the civilization and prevented its collapse. Even though deforestation was the main, obvious point to the collapse, the trade loss and attacks from neighboring civilizations was the icing on the cake to the civilization falling. It is important to take care of the natural vegetation in civilizations, and to acknowledge surrounding countries and civilizations, because creating an alliance can save the collapse of a civilization.

Works Cited

Source 1: Diamond, Jared. Collapse. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print.

Source 2: Marsh, Kevin. "Inuit." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 6 Mar. 2014.

Source 3: Mahlberg, Nora. "Why Did the Greenland Norse Die Out, While the Inuit Thrived?" Northern Blue Publishing, 8 Nov. 2005. Web. 5 Mar. 2014.

This source passes the CRAAP test with a score of 81 and a status of good. This source is current, as it was written in 2005. It could be more recent, but the information doesn't change and is a nice summary of the Greenland Norse collapse. This article is relevant because it directly sums up my civilizations collapse and strength to uphold itself. It directly talks about the main issues at hand and what led ultimately to its fall or not. This article has its author/publisher cited as one of the first things your read with a link to get more information on where the article is coming from. This source is accurate because it relates right to my topic addressing all the topics needed. The purpose was very clear on what it was addressing and informing you about.

Source 4: Dugmore, Andrew J. "Norse Greenland Settlement: Refl Ections on Climate Change, Trade, and The Contrasting Fates of Human Settlements in the North Atlantic Islands." Arctic Anthropology, 2007. Web. 6 Mar. 2014.

This source passes the CRAAP test with a status of good. It is current because it was written in 2007, so the information is possibly new and recently analyzed and edited. This source is relevant because it is directly about the Greenland Norse civilization and addresses all the topics and clearly suits my topic. This article has its publisher listed and gives you a bit of information to look up how credible the site is. This source is accurate because it addresses the subject and question at hand directly, which is what is needed. This sources purpose was clear and you could tell they were informing you about the Greenland Norse civilization and was not biased.