Mysterious bear figurines baffle archaeologists
2012-10-18 0:00

By Ditte Svane-Knudsen | ScienceNordic.com

Small bear figurines have led researchers on the trail of hitherto unknown pre-Inuit rituals, indicating that these people practiced a bear cult.

In the 1950s, the now diseased Danish archaeologist Jørgen Meldgaard made a mysterious discovery in northeastern Canada:

A small, headless bear figurine, carved from a walrus tusk, was lying leaning up against the back wall of a stone fireplace in an old settlement. The bear had been positioned in a way that made it look as though it was ‘diving’ into the fireplace.

At the time, this little figurine didn’t cause much of a stir. It was just one out of a long series of discoveries that Meldgaard made during his field trips to the Igloolik region of Arctic Canada and Greenland in the 1950s and 1960s.

But when researchers at the Danish National Museum recently gained access to Meldgaard’s surviving diaries, records and photos, they realised that the discovery of the bear figurine was indeed quite sensational.

Humans and animals were close


The walrus tusk figurine is only 3.4 cm in length and could be an important key to understanding how people more than 1,000 years ago understood the relationship between humans and bears. The figure is thought to have disappeared now, leaving today’s archaeologists with little more than Jørgen Meldgaard’s sketches and blurry photos. (Photo: The National Museum of Denmark)
Their examination of the material revealed that the small bear figurine could be an important key to understanding how people from more than 1,000 years ago viewed the relationship between animals and humans.

”The figurine provides us with information about some previously unknown 1,000-year-old rituals, which suggest that the Pre-Inuit, also known as the Dorset people, imagined that humans were related to certain animals in a way that’s very far from what we would imagine in today’s Western world,” says Ulla Odgaard, a senior researcher at the National Museum.

“Apparently, the Dorset people in Greenland and Canada didn’t see any antagonism between humans and animals,” she adds.

“Humans were not superior to animals; rather, it was a symbiotic co-existence. Bears and other animals functioned as mediators between mankind and the world of spirits.”

The Dorset way of thinking is also known from other early cultures

In other words, the finds reveal a belief in which animals – bears in particular – are our brothers, whose lives blend in with our own.

[...]


Read the full article at: sciencenordic.com


ScienceNordic.com is an online magazine with easily digestible science news stories from the Nordic region. You’re welcome to subscribe to our daily newsletter here.





Related Articles
Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings
Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru
Humans are descended from fish-like animal with a ’sixth sense’
The relationship between humans, gods, and animals; do animals have souls? (Audio)
Animal Mummies


Latest News from our Front Page

Police Attacked by Mob in Cincinnati, Rescue White Man from Black Beatdown
2015-07-07 0:28
Cincinnati police form a line against mob violence July 4, 2015. Photo: Cincy vs Everyone Fireworks, rocks, bottles and punches were thrown at Cincinnati police by a mob of people gathered for a Fourth of July hip hop and electronica concert late Saturday night. Several officers were wounded including one who needed stitches after a thrown glass bottle struck him in ...
California Rabbi Calls on Amazon to Cease Selling Books on Holocaust Denial
2015-07-07 0:47
A Sacramento rabbi has called on Amazon to ban the sale of books promoting Holocaust denial, CBS Sacramento reported on Friday. “Blatant anti-Semitism,” said Sacramento Rabbi Mendy Cohen, according to the report. “To deny the Holocaust is another mask of blatant anti-Semitism.” Among the books for sale to Amazon customers are titles such as Did Six Million Die? The Truth at Last and The Myth ...
Inna Shevchenko: Naked Breasts Are Political Weapons
2015-07-06 23:46
Inna Shevchenko, the leader of the Femen movement, is not an obscure individual in Europe and much of the Western world. She once bragged: “I’m proud to say we brought the idea of feminism and women’s rights to a politically ignorant part of the world like Ukraine, Russia, Belarus. And I’m proud to say I think we brought feminism back on to ...
Cleric said to be behind Tunisian beach massacre is living on benefits in Britain
2015-07-06 23:11
Cleric said to be behind Tunisian beach massacre is living on benefits in Britain A leader of the terrorist group suspected of being behind the Tunisian beach massacre is living on benefits in Britain. Hani al-Sibai, an al-Qaeda cleric suspected of radicalising "Jihadi John", lives in a £1 million house leafy street in fashionable west London. He is said to be one of ...
Bakers Facing $135K Fine Over Wedding Cake for Same-Sex Couple Speak Out
2015-07-06 23:57
(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));A Daily Signal Exclusive: Bakers Facing $135K Fine Over Wedding Cake for Same-Sex Couple Speak OutPosted by The Daily Signal on Monday, April 27, 2015 From the video source: Bakers Facing $135K ...
More News »