Aspects of Early Thule Culture as Seen in the Architecture of a Site on Victoria Island, Amundsen Gulf Area

  • Jean-François Le Mouël
  • Maryke Le Mouël
Keywords: Early Thule culture, Thule expansion, architecture, semisubterranean dwellings, kitchen extension, roofing, building materials


The early Thule culture site Co-op, situated at the east end of Amundsen Gulf, along the route to the eastern Arctic, offers excellent conditions for documenting the Thule expansion from Alaska, across the area of western Canadian Thule, and as far as the High Arctic. Whereas the markers most often retained to define cultures and their respective areas of expansion are movable artifacts, this paper focuses exclusively on unmovable architectural features. Detailed analyses of data obtained at the Co-op site yielded significant information about the techniques of thermoregulation of the semisubterranean dwellings. Comparisons with other Thule dwellings revealed greater stability in the architectural concept during the early phases of the Thule expansion than one would expect, given the technical constraints imposed by local raw materials and their fluctuating availability. Dwellings may therefore constitute one of the most useful identifying cultural elements.