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The Vikings First Inhabited America Before Columbus Came

| 23.12.21 |


The Vikings who inhabited northern Europe settled in North America exactly 1,000 years ago, more than 400 years before Christopher Columbus arrived in America, according to a study. Researchers say dating techniques by analyzing tree rings have provided evidence that the Vikings had occupied a site in Newfoundland, Canada, in 1021.

Scientists believe the settlement was made by the Vikings 471 years before Christopher Columbus' first voyage. Previously, the explorer and trader from Genoa, Italy was considered the discoverer of the Americas after he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.

However, a number of parties doubted him as the inventor of the "new world". The reason is, it has long been known that Europeans reached America before the arrival of Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492. The results, published in the journal Nature, reveal that for the first time researchers have accurately estimated the exact time when Europeans set foot in America for the first time. Researchers said they had analyzed tree rings from three pieces of wood used in the Viking settlement, also known as the Norse, in L'Anse aux Meadows, Canada. A dating technique using the old solar storm as a reference point is used on the three wooden pieces of the house and all point to the same year.

Therefore, the researchers pinned the "correct year of tree felling" as 1021, or 471 years before Columbus arrived. A solar storm - a massive explosion of radiation from the Sun hitting Earth - is known to have occurred in AD 992, scientists say. This allowed them to date more accurately than previous estimates of the settlement dating back to around 1000.

"The association of these [wood] pieces with the Norse is based on detailed research previously conducted by Parks Canada," the study said, adding that there was clear evidence that the wood samples had been modified with metal tools.

He added that the settlement of L'Anse aux Meadows was a base for settlements in a number of other locations, including areas further south. The study authors say the findings are a definitive point for future research into the early consequences of transatlantic activity, including on knowledge transfer and the potential exchange of genetic and pathological information. Dr Colleen Batey, a Viking expert from the Institute for Northern Studies in Scotland, said the study did not rule out the possibility that the Vikings were not in the area before 1000 AD. "This suggests that the short-lived settlement was active around 1021 when wood was being worked on the site, possibly related to building or ship repairs," he said.

"As an archaeologist, I might interpret this as one of the stages of occupation activity, not necessarily the first or even the last."

L'Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO world heritage site located on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland, is the first and only site known to have been founded by Vikings in North America and provides early evidence of European settlement in the New World. Radiocarbon dating is a technique that measures the residual concentration of the radioactive isotope carbon (carbon-14) present in an object. Carbon-14 decays over time and we can tell the age of a sample by measuring how much of it remains.

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