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Migration to Inhospitable Regions

  1. Feb 19, 2014 #1
    Why did ancient peoples migrate to (and stay in) inhospitable regions in Europe? Why live somewhere that is cold and lacking in edible plant life?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2014 #2


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    They migrated before the advent of the ice age, when the weather was warmer and the fields were plush and herds of animals abounded. Then the ice age moved in, this much we know, so you might ask, why didn't they move farther south? Some say that by the time they realized it wasn't temporary, they assumed it had become like that everywhere. Moving through the ice and cold was difficult at best, no means of transportation except on foot, hampered by the old, the infirm, young children, pregnant women, they had no idea that anywhere they went was not worse.

    Of course that is so simple, so much opinion, it really is something very interesting to investigate. Unfortunately, since there are no written records, we really do not know.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  4. Feb 19, 2014 #3


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    Keep in mind, "inhospitable" is relative. They could have been fleeing crop failure, drought, disease, hostile neighbors, etc. Any number of things could make the risk of migrating seem reasonable.
  5. Feb 19, 2014 #4


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    As I recall reading, there was an unusually warm period in the north Atlantic region around 1000 AD and for a few centuries afterwards. It was during this period that Norse settlements developed in Iceland, Greenland and even what are now Newfoundland and maybe Labrador in Canada.

    Then the climate worsened, and the colonies in Greenland and North America died out or were assimilated into the native Inuit population.

    But still, which areas of Europe are "lacking in edible plant life?" I've picked blueberries in Finnish Lapland. Think of the Sami (Lapps) and their reindeer: the reindeer live on lichens etc. that humans don't normally eat, and the humans eat reindeer meat as part of their diet.

    Then there are fish in the rivers and in the seas along the coast.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  6. Feb 20, 2014 #5


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    I guess you need to clarify which time period you are referring to as there have been ice age events (advances and retreats) and mini ice ages.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  7. Feb 20, 2014 #6


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    Whatever region or period it was, since people managed to live there, it must have been hospitable by definition.
  8. Feb 20, 2014 #7


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    Sometimes, people moved to less-hospitable areas by accident, too. Lots of Europeans thought that it might be a great idea to move to North America, as long as they stayed at about the same latitude. That didn't always work out too well. They should have consulted with the French fishermen who harvested cod from the Gulf of Maine, dried or salted it, and sent it back as food for their army and navy. The French fishermen certainly knew that the climate in this area was less-than-ideal, though details might have been a matter of national security.
  9. Feb 22, 2014 #8
    Same reasons people move around today, and same reasons they stay put where they are today.
    Ancient peoples had similar life decisions as they do now save for the scope.

    Unless you plan on living with your parents all your life, happy with watching TV or playing video games all day, and using their resources to keep you alive, then you will migrate.

    The population growth in your own parents home might necessitate you to move out and find your own place, be it next door(if available), across town, or across country.

    Economics will dictate that you have some income so your choice of where to migrate will be dictated by your skills and no doubt a factor will be the best place to find a job.

    But if you are a curious fellow, you just might some day pack it all up and just choose to go someplace far off to see what's there and hope for the best - ie the infamous after college trek through a far off country to find yourself - some end up staying.

    So, you now have a home, a job, and maybe starting a family. You stay put where you are for years on end as who likes moving and upsetting the continuity of things, and risk losing everything acquired for starting over from scratch.

    And the generations continue much the same.

    Ancient man most likely felt the same way about things.
  10. Mar 30, 2014 #9
    They developed their niche where there was little competition

    They were intelligence enough to developed their niche (survive and propagate) where there is little competition

    The Lapps, Sami, Nenets, Inuits, Yup'ik continue this lifeway today; however, this lifeway is in jeopardy because of exploitation of their resources and environment by non-indigenous peoples.

    Suggested Readings:
    Hoffecker, John F.; 2005; A Prehistory of the North, Human Settlement of the Higher Latitudes; Rutgers University Press; New Brunswick, NJ

    Kozlowski, Janusz & H.-G. Bandi; 198412; The Paleohistory of Circumpolar Arctic Colonization; ARCTIC, VOL. 37, NO. 4; pp: 358 – 372; Available at http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/2220/2197 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Jul 12, 2014 #10
    It is the same drive that leads men into space and pioneers into the wilderness - to go somewhere different, to spread themselves and to get away from particular ways of life that they may not like (country dwellers who don't like the hustle and bustle of towns and cities for instance), on top of other reasons given here: The challenge and the avoidance of others / other lifestyles / other lifeforms in other words.
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