Archaeological remains of the Saqqaq culture in Sermermiut, Disko Bay, West Greenland coast.
Regions with significant populations
Southern Greenland

The Saqqaq culture (named after the Saqqaq settlement, the site of many archaeological finds) was a Paleo-Eskimo culture in southern Greenland. Up to this day, no other people seem to have lived in Greenland continually for as long as the Saqqaq.


The earliest known archaeological culture in southern Greenland, the Saqqaq existed from around 2500 BCE until about 800 BCE.[1][2] This culture coexisted with the Independence I culture of northern Greenland, which developed around 2400 BCE and lasted until about 1300 BCE.[1] After the Saqqaq culture disappeared, the Independence II culture of northern Greenland and the Early Dorset culture of West Greenland emerged. There is some debate about the timeframe of the transition from Saqqaq culture to Early Dorset in western Greenland.[1]

The Saqqaq culture came in two phases, the main difference of the two being that the newer phase adopted the use of sandstone. The younger phase of the Saqqaq culture coincides with the oldest phase of the Dorset culture.[3]

Archaeological findings

Frozen remains of a Saqqaq person dubbed "Inuk" were found in western Greenland (Qeqertarsuaq) and have been DNA sequenced.[4] He had brown eyes, black hair, and shovel-shaped teeth. It has been determined that he lived about 4000 years ago, and was related to native populations in northeastern Siberia. The Saqqaq people are not the ancestors of contemporary Kalaallit people, but instead are related to modern Chukchi and Koryak peoples.[citation needed] It is not known whether they crossed in boats or over ice.[5]

Saqqaq people lived in small tents and hunted seals, seabirds, and other marine animals.[5] The people of the Saqqaq culture used silicified slate, agate, quartzite, and rock crystals as materials for their tools.[3]


See also: Paleo-Eskimo § Genetics, Pre-Dorset culture § Genetics, Dorset culture § Genetics, Birnirk culture § Genetics, Thule people § Genetics, and Inuit § Genetics

A genetic study published in Science in August 2014 examined the remains of six Saqqaq individuals buried in Qeqertasussuk, Greenland between ca. 3000 BC and 1900 BC. The five samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to haplogroups D2a1 (four samples) and D2a.[6] These haplogroups also predominate in the Dorset culture, and are today found in high frequencies among Siberian Yupik and Aleut, with whom the Saqqaq are relatively closely related.[7] The evidence suggested that the ancestors of the Saqqaq entered North America from Siberia through a distinct migration about 4000 BC, and that they subsequently remained largely genetically isolated from other North American populations.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Saqqaq culture profile — from the Greenland Research Centre at the National Museum of Denmark.
  2. ^ Grønnow, Bjarne (31 March 2017). "The frozen Saqqaq sites of Disko Bay. Quqertasussuk and Qajaa (2400-900 BC). Studies of Saqqaq Material Culture in an Eastern Artic Perspective". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b Mobjerg, Tinna (1 January 1999). "New Adaptive Strategies in the Saqqaq Culture of Greenland, c. 1600-1400 BC". World Archaeology. 30 (3): 452–465. doi:10.1080/00438243.1999.9980423. JSTOR 124963.
  4. ^ Rasmussen, M; et al. (2010). "Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo". Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 463 (7282): 463, 757–762. Bibcode:2010Natur.463..757R. doi:10.1038/nature08835. PMC 3951495. PMID 20148029.
  5. ^ a b Walton, Doreen. "Analysis of hair DNA reveals ancient human's face." BBC News. (retrieved 11 February 2010)
  6. ^ Raghavan et al. 2014, Supplementary Materials, p. 109, Table S1.
  7. ^ Raghavan et al. 2014, p. 5.
  8. ^ Raghavan et al. 2014, p. 1.