The Arctic region is changing rapidly and dramatically as a result of climate change, perhaps two to three times faster than other areas of the world. Its inaccessibility, remoteness, and low population density no longer offers sufficient protection from expanding human use and development for its rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage. While considerable attention is being focused on better understanding and more effectively protecting its natural resources, far less is being done to identify and preserve this region’s significant maritime heritage resources. This remoteness and inaccessibility that has protected Arctic resources for so long has also constrained our capacity to conduct sufficient archaeological studies to inform and guide the place-specific identification and preservation of what remains of this compelling history and heritage. The wilderness landscape of the Arctic has a rich and relatively well-documented historical record, spanning more than 2000 years of exploration and commerce, and of Indigenous cultures stretching further back over 4000–6000 years. More effectively using this historical record to identify significant maritime cultural landscapes in the Arctic and expanding the use of precautionary approaches to the preservation of these landscapes will not only assist in establishing regional priorities for targeted archaeological surveys and investigations, but will also likely minimize what will be lost forever as the inevitable “ice-free Arctic”, as well as its expanded human footprint, approaches.
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