Research released on Wednesday reported that Vikings – the first Europeans to come to the United States – were living in a village in Newfoundland, Canada.
Scholars have known for years that the Vikings – the name the British gave to the Normans they attacked – built a village in the wilds of Lanes Oaks in Newfoundland at the turn of the millennium. But a study published in the journal Nature refers first to the history of the occupation.
Researchers – up to 100 men and women – cut down trees to build the village and repair their ships, and a new study shows that they cut down at least three trees in 1021 and set a date for their stay. Christopher Columbus arrived in the Bahamas in 1492, at least 470 years ago.
Archaeologist Margot Gimmes, a researcher at Cronington University in the Netherlands and lead author of the study, said: “This is the first time that a scientific date has been set.
“Previously, history was based solely on the epics – oral stories written only in the thirteenth century, at least 200 years after the events they describe,” he said.
The first Scandinavian settlers in Greenland came from Iceland and Scandinavia, and the researchers’ arrival in Newfoundland marked the first time humanity had circumnavigated the globe.
But their stay did not last long. Research shows that Lanes lived in the Oaks for three to 13 years before leaving Norse Village and returning to Greenland.
The archaeological remains are now preserved as a historic landmark, and Parks has built a descriptive center near Canada. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The scientific key to the exact date that was Norwegian, carbon in a naturally radioactive form was discovered through an old piece of wood: some stick-shaped, a tree-trunk portion, and a piece of wood that looked like a piece.
The Lance Oaks meadow was occupied by the indigenous peoples before and after the Norse, so researchers had unique signs showing that each piece was carved with metal tools – something the aborigines lacked.
Archaeologists have long relied on radiocarbon dating to find estimated dates for organic materials, such as wood, bone and charcoal, but a recent study uses a technique based on a global “cosmic ray event” – likely caused by massive solar flares – to determine the exact date.
Previous studies showed that in the year 993 there was a phenomenon of cosmic radiation in which over several months the amount of radioactive carbon-14 in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was higher than normal for several months.
Trees “breathe” carbon dioxide as they grow, Gidms said, so researchers can use the radiocarbon signature to identify annual growth rings at tree junctions dating back to 993.
They used a microscope to count the subsequent growth rings down to the bark of the tree, giving the exact year the tree stopped growing—in other words, when the Norwegian hit it.
To their surprise, each of the three pieces of wood they tested came from a tree that had been cut down in 1021, even though it did come from three different trees: two of spruce and possibly juniper.
The researchers can’t say if 1021 was near the beginning or end of the Norwegian occupation, but they expect the site to expand further research to other trees, Gidms said.
Norwegian voyages to Newfoundland are mentioned in two Icelandic epics, suggesting that L’Anse aux Meadows was the temporary home of explorers up to six voyages.
Originally known as Leaf Erickson, Leaf the Lucky – son of Eric the Red, founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland.
The grasslands of L’Ans Oaks would also be a permanent solution, but the epics were abandoned due to conflict and clashes with indigenous peoples.
The epics refer to the whole region as Vinland, that is, “wine country” – it was enough to grow grapes.
As the name suggests, the Norwegian also explored the warmer parts of the south because Newfoundland was too cold for the grapes, as the region’s exotic woodchips refer to as well, Gidms said.
Using an ancient cosmic ray event such as cutting wood is a relatively new development, and similar techniques are being used to establish specific dates at other sites, said Stuart Manning, a professor of archeology at Cornell University. In a new study.
“This is a great app,” he said. “This is the first clear evidence that Europeans are coming to North America.”
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