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Archaeology can give only approximate dates for the cultures that flourished before the Norse exploration of Greenland in the 10th century.The earliest known cultures in Greenland are the Saqqaq culture (2500–800 BC) and the Independence I culture in northern Greenland (2400–1300 BCE).Hunting and whaling have always been important ways to make a living on Greenland.One of the animals found here is the polar bear, which is on the coat of arms of the Danish royal family in Greenland The history of Greenland is a history of life under extreme Arctic conditions: currently, an ice cap covers about 80 percent of the island, restricting human activity largely to the coasts.Recent studies suggest that, in Greenland at least, the Dorset culture may be better understood as a continuation of Independence II culture; the two cultures have therefore been designated "Greenlandic Dorset".Artefacts associated with early Dorset culture in Greenland have been found as far north as Inglefield Land on the west coast and the Dove Bugt area on the east coast.Erik named the island Greenland (Grœnland in Old Norse, Grænland in modern Icelandic, Grønland in modern Danish and Norwegian) in effect as a marketing device.
Excavations have shown that the fjords at that time were surrounded by forests of 4 to 6 metre tall birch trees and by hills covered with grass and willow brush.He sailed to Greenland, where he explored the coastline and claimed certain regions as his own.He then returned to Iceland to persuade people to join him in establishing a settlement on Greenland.The Norse probably cleared the landscape by felling trees to use as building material and fuel, and by allowing their sheep and goats to graze there in both summer and winter.According to the sagas, Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland for three years for committing murder.
(The peoples of those islands are thought to have descended, in turn, from inhabitants of Siberia who migrated into Canada thousands of years ago.) Because of Greenland's remoteness and climate, survival there was difficult.