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Thule Period Artifacts and History

Inns North

Siniktarvik Hotel & Conference Centre

The Turaarvik
Inns North Hotel

in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

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The Rich History of the Arctic: Thule Period Artifacts and Rankin Inlet

Thule (named after Thule, Greenland) is the name given by archaeologists to the ancestors of the modern Inuit. Historians believe that the Thule people entered northwest Canada about a thousand years ago, spreading across the continent all the way to Greenland in a century or so.


Thule people subsisted on sea mammals and caribou, making weapons such as harpoons and arrows, and distinctive housing, the remains of which can still be seen today. The Thule developed half-buried stone, whalebone and driftwood dwellings, but also built igloos on the sea ice.


Near Rankin Inlet, you can visit the historic site called Qamaviniqtalik (“place of ancient sod houses”) and see remnants of ancient Thule:

  • tent rings
  • food caches
  • Qarmait (sod houses)
  • semi-subterranean houses

a Thule-era meat cutter



Thule site near Rankin Inlet, in the Iqalugaarjuup (Meliadine River) Territorial Park

Thule Archaeological site near Hall Beach, NU


Modern-day Ulus

This modern Ulu knife is quite elegant, and it certainly resembles the Thule artifact pictured at left. The piece at left is quite old; in fact, specialists have not determined its age, but believe it to be of Thule origin.



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