In 1021, a Viking cut down a Canadian tree

In 1021, a Viking cut down a Canadian tree

Finally, a medieval Norse settlement in Newfoundland is exactly dated. Apart from two medieval settlements in Western Greenland, this winter settlement in present-day Canada is the only place in North America where the presence of the Normans has been definitively demonstrated.

Using an entirely new dating method, which is based on the years of maximum peaks in C14 levels, a research team led by Groningen researcher Michael Dee has established that certainly in 1021 – by chance this year a thousand years ago – Europeans were settling for Anse aux Meadows. This is evidenced by the dating of four pieces of wrought iron. The team will report on Wednesday in a temper nature.

At first we thought: Oh dear, this is so crazy

Margot Quietms Archaeologist

“When all four appointments came in the same year, we first thought: Oh dear, this is so crazy. It turns out to be so,” Groningen archaeologist Margot Koetms, a member of the research team, said in a telephone explanation. This Vikings camp is only in use for one year, but for all sorts of other reasons which are highly unlikely. What we dated is scrap wood, pieces of which were chopped up for use. Why all these pieces were liberated in the same year and dumped in that swamp, we don’t know. Was it the final year of departure or the year of arrival? We just don’t know. “

A wooden piece of l’Anse aux Meadows seen through a microscope.
Petra Dove’s photo

But, says Kuitems, we now have “a very definite date of residence of these Europeans in North America, the first point at which humanity circled the world.” It is the moment when the descendants of people who, after expanding from Africa 70,000 years ago, moved east to Asia and then America, and for the first time reconnected with the descendants of people who then moved west to Europe. Incidentally, those contacts were not purely peaceful, as can be inferred from the Icelandic stories.

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C14 extremely high

The date of the woodcut depends on Discovery from 2012 That growth rings in old wood contain very high amounts of the C14 carbon isotope in certain years, as much as eight times what is usual. These peaks were likely caused by solar storms that led to a temporary increase in cosmic rays. 775 was like this year, as well as 993.

For dating, this C14 skew is actually a problem because the extra C14 can suddenly make an object look younger, but Michael D from Groningen realized that these skew annual rings could also be used as a marker, if you could find a suitable piece of wood. Find out where you can count down the growth episodes from that skew year to cover year.

Last year, the Groningen team has already made a file Private mannequin monastery Uyghurs in Mongolia. Turned out to be 777, two annual episodes after the peak of 775. Kuitems: “Michael D. was also looking for a historical event to date based on the year 993, so we reached out to Canadian archaeologists from l’Anse aux Meadows.”

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The new dating confirms doubts about the history of the Norwegian residence at l’Anse aux Meadows, which was discovered only 60 years ago. Many remains of Greenland’s two Norwegian colonies, which were a colony of Iceland just before the year 1000, were found as early as the 18th century when a Danish bishop went there to see if those villages from the old stories were really still inhabited.

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Semi-permanent camp

But for the expeditions that lasted for many years, the Norwegians who lived in Greenland, according to the Icelanders The Greenlending Epic (“The Story of Greenlanders”) and Red Erikor Story (“The Story of Eric the Red”) In the eleventh century, evidence was not found until the early 1960s, when two Norwegian archaeologists in Newfoundland discovered the remains of a semi-permanent camp.

Based on the objects and the use of iron (unknown to locals), it was clear that it was Norwegian. The C14 dates back to the 60s and 70s, when it was unusable due to excessive margins, but due to the style of objects and information from legends, a residence was assumed at the beginning of the 11th century. The discovery of wild walnuts at l’Anse aux Meadows also confirmed the existence of Vinland, the then only legendary wine country from Icelandic mythology. Grapes do not grow in Newfoundland, but in the south where this nut grows, grapes grow. It was clear from the archaeological finds that this was an intermediate station on the way to Vinland and still not precisely located (forest land). On an expedition to and from Greenland (1,200 kilometers across the Labrador Sea), the Normans repaired their ships at l’Anse aux Meadows and rested there from those arduous sea voyages. Due to the short sailing season, the voyage between Finland and the farthest Greenland could not be done in one season, so a stop was always necessary, so it probably happened at l’Anse aux Meadows.

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