Vikings were already in America exactly 1,000 years ago

Vikings were already in America exactly 1,000 years ago

Researcher Margot Kuitems is a guest at Nieuws en Co today to talk about her research. Audio from that conversation will be added to this article as it becomes available.

The Vikings were the first Europeans to cross the Atlantic, centuries before Columbus arrived there in 1492. They ended up on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland and established there a settlement known as L’Anse aux Meadows. The wooden artifacts examined come from that settlement, which probably consisted of eight buildings that could accommodate about a hundred people at one time.

So much for the known facts. But when did the Vikings come? accurately To America? Somewhere between 793 and 1066, scientists have not been able to determine which is more accurate yet. This rough estimate was based on the stylistic features of the architecture left behind, a handful of artifacts, and the interpretation of stories from the time first written centuries later.

cosmic rays

For the first time, the existence of the Vikings has now been determined with great accuracy. Archaeologist Margot Koetms and colleagues from the University of Groningen subjected the wood to so-called carbon dating, which is linked to a useful fact from astronomy. In the year 993 there was a powerful solar storm that released a large amount of carbon into the atmosphere. At that time, trees absorb this carbon, so it can serve as a good reference. This allowed the researchers to very accurately determine when the trees were cut down: in 1021, this year exactly 1,000 years ago. search figured in nature.

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cut in spring

Since the wood of the trees looks completely different in the spring than in the fall, the Groningen researchers were able to determine when the trees were cut down: in the spring of 1021. This does not necessarily mean that the Vikings arrived and then in America, it could have been a little earlier. But the three trees examined were all cut down in 1021, and archaeological and historical research has already revealed that the Vikings were in America no more than ten years ago.

You may be wondering if the woody remains don’t come from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. This seems unlikely: the wood shows traces of metal tool processing. At the time, the indigenous people did not use it.

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