Vikings discovered America 500 years before Christopher Columbus , study claims

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According to a new study, the year 1021 AD is the earliest date in which a European presence in the Americas can be scientifically proven.

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Explorer Christopher Columbus has long been credited with discovering the Americas in 1492.

But historians say that Nordic adventurers built it around 500 years before that.


Leif Eriksson, an Icelandic explorer and the second of three sons of Erik the Red, is considered the first visitor to North America.

Now a study conducted by a team of international researchers claims to have fixed the exact date of 1021.

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Wood cutting by Vikings in Newfoundland, Canada—a site in Newfoundland, Canada that has been associated with Erikson’s—was as early as AD 1021, say the researchers in the new study, published here. Nature magazine.

The study states that the three pieces of wood studied, from three different trees, all came from archaeological references to Vikings.

Each piece of wood also displayed “obvious evidence” of cutting and sawing with a blade made of metal – a material not produced by indigenous populations.

The exact year could be determined because a massive solar storm occurred in AD 992 that produced a different radiocarbon signal in the tree rings from the following year.

Associate Professor Michael Dee, Research Director at the University of Groningen in Holland, said: “Special uplifts in radiocarbon production that occurred between AD 992 and 993 have been found in tree-ring archives around the world.”

He noted that each of the three wooden objects displayed this sign with the first 29 growth rings from the edge of the bark.

Study first author Dr Margot Kuitems, also from the University of Groningen, said: “Finding signals from solar storms in 29 growth rings from the bark allowed us to conclude that the bite activity occurred in the year 1021 AD.”

Researchers say the number of Viking expeditions to the Americas and the duration of their migration across the Atlantic are unknown.

All current data suggests that the entire effort was “somewhat short-lived” – and that the cultural and ecological legacy of the first European activity in the Americas is likely to be small.

However, botanical evidence from L’Anse aux Meadows has confirmed that the Vikings explored the land further south than Newfoundland.

Dr Kuitems said: “1021 AD is the first year in which a European presence in the Americas can be scientifically proven.

“Previous dates for Viking presence in the Americas depend heavily on Icelandic sagas. However, these began as oral histories and were written only centuries after the events they described.

“Despite being paradoxical and sometimes fictional, the sagas also suggest that there were encounters, both violent and sociable, between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the region.

“However, little archaeological evidence has emerged to support such exchanges.”

She continued: “Other medieval accounts also exist, implying that major figures on the European mainland were aware that the Vikings made landfall across the Atlantic.”


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