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Scientists discovered that a Viking settlement on the Canadian island of Newfoundland, which has eight wooden and grass-covered buildings, was occupied by Vikings in 1021 AD.
It was known that the Vikings had traveled and set up the settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, evidence that they had reached the American continent, however, the precise moment was not clear, until now.
Scientists said Wednesday that a new type of dating technique, using a long-ago solar storm as a reference point, revealed that the settlement was occupied exactly a thousand years ago, of course, 471 years before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic.
It is not yet clear how long the settlement was occupied, although it may have been for a decade or less, and perhaps as many as 100 people.
The technique was used on three pieces of wood cut for the settlement and all pointed to the same year, confirming that the Vikings reached the mainland earlier than, at least, Christopher Columbus.
In the three pieces of wood examined, from three different trees, 29 growth rings formed after the one showing evidence of a solar storm, meaning the wood was cut in 1021, said University of Groningen archaeologist Margot Kuitems. , first author of the study.
The importance of discovery
It is worth mentioning that although there were too many suspicions of this fact, the viking journey represents multiple milestones for mankind. The settlement offers the oldest known evidence of a transatlantic crossing.
On the other hand it marks the place where humans finally covered the entire circumference of the world, thousands of years after they entered North America via a land bridge that once linked Siberia with Alaska.
In addition, with the discovery, the question arises as to whether the Vikings could be the architect that populated some places in North America.
“Much praise should go to these northern Europeans for being the first human society to cross the Atlantic,” said geoscientist Michael Dee of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who led the study published in the journal Nature.
“I think it’s fair to describe the journey as a voyage of discovery and a search for new sources of raw materials,” added Dee. In addition, he said that many archaeologists believe that the main motivation for searching these new territories was to discover new sources of wood in particular.
It is generally believed that they started from Greenland, where timber suitable for construction was very rare in short supply.
Who were the Vikings?
The Vikings, or Nordic people, were sailors from Scandinavian regions, now Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
They ventured into Europe, sometimes colonizing and other times trading or looting. They had extraordinary skills for shipbuilding and navigation; they also established settlements in Iceland and Greenland.
The Viking era is defined as from 793 to 1066 after Christ, presenting a wide range for the time of the transatlantic crossing, which indicates that its arrival in America was precisely at the decline of its people.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.