Recent analysis of small pieces of wood from timber-framed buildings in Newfoundland confirms that Vikings arrived in the North America at least 471 years before Christopher Columbus. The Guardian reports that the new type of dating technique used a solar storm from long ago as a reference point when dating the wood.
A major known solar storm–a burst of intense cosmic rays from the sun–from the year 992 AD is responsible for providing the distinct radiocarbon imprint on the trees used to make these buildings. Analysis also showed that these pieces of wood were cut with metal blades, proof that European arrivals–as opposed to Indigenous peoples who did not yet posses metal tools–were the architects of these structures.
Given this new evidence, it’s proven that Vikings arrived and settled in the New World by 1021 AD, exactly 1,000 years ago–and well before Columbus made his voyage to the continent. Three pieces of wood were analysed from the sod-covered buildings which stood on the northern tip of Newfoundland in Canada, all of which pointed to the same year.
This settlement, known as L’Anse aux Meadows, was discovered in 1960 but until now efforts to radiocarbon date its age have been far too imprecise. With this new discovery, the date of the transatlantic crossing of Vikings to the New World is greatly narrowed down from sometime between 793 AD and 1066 AD to the exact year of 1021 AD.
Proof of this settlement represents the first-known evidence of transatlantic crossing in human history.
Michael Dee, geoscientist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who led this study, said, “Much kudos should go to these northern Europeans for being the first human society to traverse the Atlantic.”
“I think it is fair to describe the trip as both a voyage of discovery and a search for new sources of raw materials,” Michael went on to explain. “Many archaeologists believe the principal motivation for them seeking out these new territories was to uncover new sources of timber.”
While it remains unclear how long these structures were occupied or exactly how many utilised them at a time–though the number is likely up to 100–it is clear that these buildings strongly resemble other Norse structures in Iceland and Greenland from that time.
The Guardian points out that voyages to present-day North America are depicted in Icelandic sagas, the timeframes of which correspond with the 1021 AD settlement date.
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