The Viking Discovery of North America

Despite what you learned in grade school, Christopher Columbus and his crew were not the first Europeans to land in North America. In fact, many Europeans probably preceded Columbus. Some even stayed for a while and settled in. One of the better documented European villages may be found at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

Some time around 1000 A.D., Norsemen landed on Newfoundland, where they set up a small village. Though this inhospitable spit of land would eventually come to be populated by Canadians, its original inhabitants were forgotten until one day in 1960, when an explorer, an archaeologist, and a nurse were visiting the remote community of L’Anse aux Meadows.

In L’Anse aux Meadows, Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad discovered a series of overgrown rectangles near Epaves Bay. Knowing that Norse farms in Greenland were built at the heads of shallow bays near freshwater, the Ingstads began an excavation. Over the next seven years, Anne and an international team uncovered a treasure trove of archaeological information.

You can read more about this fascinating discovery in an article by Lorraine Boissoneault in the JSTOR Daily web site at http://daily.jstor.org/anse-aux-meadows-and-the-viking-discovery-of-north-america/.

7 Comments

I have visited L’Anse aux Meadows, it’s a very exciting site. I was amazed to learn that the Vikings had independently discovered the Bernouilli/Venturi principle as applied to the rudders of their ships.

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I am not familiar with the climate today or 1000 AD in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, but they may have been smart enough to use solar reflectors to increase the growing rate of squash and other plants. I had great results planting a tomato plant in the southwest corner of a house so that it received direct and reflected sunlight from two walls of the house, plus the rain off the roof and lots of fertilizer. Planting in a location like that next to the building also provided radiated heat from the building that helped prevent frost.

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    I’ve never heard of solar reflectors being used by these people at this time. It was a period when the at least the North Atlantic and Europe were warm–enough so that citrus was grown in the southern parts of England

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Thanks for this article and the site of it. As always, you introduce to areas of interest in history, genealogy and technology I would not have found otherwise.

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It is said that Mrs Boissoneault will publish a book on the he story of 23 young men who canoed from Montreal to the Gulf of Mexico to reenact La Salle’s voytage down the Mississippi. I have found that it happened in 1976, as said in this 1980 article: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2209&dat=19800515&id=S58rAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UfwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6799,2990949&hl=fr

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And this settlement was possible because the earth was going though a very warm period that permitted crops to be grown at this site. Climate change–which didn’t last long enough for the village to be permanent.

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    So climate change then is cyclical after all and little or nothing to do with burning coal?
    I do believe it is cyclical and human beings have little or nothing to do with the climate.

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