Among all their inventions, the igloo is the most readily known. The term "igloo" means any kind of dwelling. Yet despite what we generally believe, the Inuit do not live in igloos. These are used primarily as temporary shelters during hunting and fishing expeditions. An experienced worker can build an igloo in 20 minutes. Using a bone knife, he cuts out rectangular blocks of compact snow roughly 6 inches thick. The blocks are placed around an excavated circle in a spiral that diminishes in diameter as it rises, finally forming a dome. Atop the igloo rests one block with a small hole in the middle. Joints are sealed with powdered snow. A cut-out entrance two feet high is carved. Sometimes a "window" of clear ice is added - a crafty way to look outside while keeping warm. Inside, seal oil or petrol is used to generate heat strong enough to enable the igloo dweller to sleep naked underneath a fur blanket. Outside, the bitter Arctic cold keeps the igloo from melting. Hence, once settled in, the Inuit hunter can rest quite comfortably before resuming the hunt.
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