Experiencing Life in a 1000 year old Arctic House

by Gerald Conaty, Director, Indigenous Studies


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Thule Whalebone House Model

Virtual 3D reconstruction of a whale bone house.  Image courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Levy, University of Calgary

Thule Whalebone House Model

Virtual 3D reconstruction of a whale bone house.  Image courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Levy, University of Calgary

The Glenbow Museum and researchers at the University of Calgary are developing a
3-D web site that will let users experience life in a 1,000 year old Arctic house. The Thule culture existed between about 1000 to 1600 AD and represents an expansion of Alaska Inuit people across Arctic Canada. As they moved into the central Arctic, the Thule people began scavenging whale bones to construct semi-permanent houses. Dr Richard Levy, Faculty of Environmental Design, and Dr Peter Dawson, Department of Archaeology, have used special imaging technology to develop a 3-D model of a Thule house. They are now collaborating with Gerald Conaty and Cherry Sham of the Glenbow Museum to incorporate images of artifacts with the house.

Whale Skeleton Model

3D scan of a whale skeleton. Image courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Levy, University of Calgary

Whale Skeleton Model

3D scan of a whale skeleton. Image courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Levy, University of Calgary

As users explore the house, they will encounter tools and discover that activities did not occur randomly within these houses. They can learn about the cultural rules that may have determined where men and where women did their work. They will find that the light levels were very low and not evenly distributed throughout the house. They will also find that the Thule concepts of public and private space are very different from ours.

This exciting and innovative project is funded by the Virtual Museum of Canada. Target date for launch is July 2008.

To see a selection of artifacts from Glenbow's Inuit collection online, visit our Collection Highlights webpage http://www.glenbow.org/collections/museum/native/inuit.cfm

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