Vikings traveled to America 500 years ago

But that’s not right. Vikings returned to America several times.

In fact, a new study by Icelandic archaeologist Lísabét Kumundstóttir shows that they traveled the continent for up to 500 years. The mission is simple: to provide quality wood to the Greenlandic elite.

The tree was short

Soon after the Vikings settled on the island in the late 10th century, they found Greenland lacking in timber.

Although it was warmer than it was now, there were only bushes and thin trees because of the short, fresh summer. There is no wood to make tools, houses and ships.

So the Vikings collected driftwood: wood from elsewhere that had ended up in the ocean and washed into Greenland due to storms or floods.

Driftwood was often of better quality than Greenlandic wood, but it was not favored by the small group that made up Greenland’s elite of approximately 5,000 Vikings.

The elite wanted the best wood for their houses and ships, and they found it in America, according to research by Lísabet Guðmundsdóttir published in the journal Ancient.

Quality wood is for the elite

Guðmundsdóttir studied the houses and tools of five Viking farms in Greenland.

The finds cover the period from about 900, when the Vikings settled on the island, to about 1450, when the Scandinavian community disappeared. Four farms were inhabited by lay people, and lastly, Kardar was a bishop’s see where many important people stayed. It may also be the only farm with its own ships.

Using an advanced analytical method, taxa analysis, Guðmundsdóttir was able to examine the tree down to the cellular level and determine its origin.

A total of 8,552 pieces of wood were analyzed, and the study found that half were driftwood that did not come from Greenland. But a small portion came from so far away that it could not be driftwood and must have been imported.

This is, for example, wood from hemlock spruce and shrubs, which did not grow in Europe during the Viking Age, but were common in North America.

Research also shows that elites were the driving force behind imports. All the timber imported came from the Bishopric of Kardar.

Research sheds new light on written sources

The findings are exciting because they contradict previous assumptions about Viking visits to the Americas.

An Icelandic source from 1346 mentions that a ship was on its way to Markland (one of the areas of North America discovered by the Vikings around 1000 AD), but got out and ended up in Iceland.

‘Perhaps the ship made regular trips to Markland? In any case, finding evidence that these journeys took place over a long period of time is certainly interesting and provides a new perspective,” says Lísabét Kumundstóttir. History.

The findings confirm that the Scandinavians were well organized and good sailors and mariners.

“It shows how strong and wealthy the Vikings were in Greenland,” says Kumundsdóttir.

Traces of Vikings have previously been found in the Americas, such as L’Anse aux Meadows, an 11th-century settlement on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland.

However, Guðmundstóttir thinks further monitoring will be more difficult.

“Small seasonal residences can be hard to find, especially if they’ve only been used once. But who knows?’

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