In 1021, a Viking cut down a Canadian tree


Finally, a medieval Nordic settlement in Newfoundland is exactly dated. Apart from two medieval settlements in West 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, based on years of peak peaks in C14 levels, a research team led by Groningen researcher Michael Dee established that certainly in 1021 Рby chance this year a thousand years ago Рthe Europeans settled for Anse aux Pr̩s. 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 my god this is so crazy

Margot Quietms Archaeologist

“When the four nominations came in the same year, we first thought, Oh my God, this is so crazy. Turns out it does, ”Groningen archaeologist Margot Koetms, a member of the research team, said in a telephone explanation. This Viking camp is only used for a year, but for all kinds of other highly unlikely reasons. What we have dated is scrap wood, pieces of which have been cut for use. Why all of these coins were released in the same year and dumped in this swamp, we don’t know. Was this the last year of departure or the year of arrival? We just don’t know. “

A piece of wood from Anse aux Meadows seen under a microscope.
Petra Dove’s photo

But, says Kuitems, we now have “a very precise date of residence of these Europeans in North America, the first point at which mankind toured the world.” This is the moment when the descendants of peoples who, after having spread from Africa 70,000 years ago, moved east to Asia and then to America, and for the first time reconnected with the descendants peoples who then moved west to Europe. Incidentally, these contacts were not purely peaceful, as can be deduced from Icelandic stories.

Extremely high C14

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

For dating, this C14 offset is actually a problem as the extra C14 can suddenly rejuvenate an object, but Michael D from Groningen realized that these asymmetric annual rings could also be used as a marker, if you could find a piece. of suitable wood. . Find out where you can count growth episodes from that skewed year to the coverage year.

Last year, the Groningen team already made a case Private mannequin monastery Uyghurs in Mongolia. It 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 contacted Canadian archaeologists from Anse aux Meadows. “

Read also: Vikings in the Azores

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

Semi-permanent camp

But for the expeditions that lasted for many years, the Norwegians who lived in Greenland, according to the Icelanders The epic of the green loan (“The History of the Greenlanders”) and Red Erikor’s story (“The Story of Eric the Red”) In the 11th 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 items and the use of the iron (unknown to locals) it was clear that it was Norwegian. The C14 dates from the 60s and 70s, when it was unusable due to excessive margins, but due to the style of the objects and information from the legends, a residence was assumed at the beginning of the 11th century. The discovery of wild nuts at Anse aux Meadows also confirmed the existence of Vinland, then the only legendary wine country in Icelandic mythology. Grapes don’t grow in Newfoundland, but in the south where this nut grows, grapes do. It was clear from the archaeological finds that it was an intermediate station on the Vinland road and still not precisely located (forest land). During an expedition to and from Greenland (1,200 kilometers across the Labrador Sea), the Normans repaired their ships at Anse aux Meadows and rested there from these arduous voyages at sea. Due to the short sailing season, the trip between Finland and the most distant Greenland could not be done in one season, so a stopover was always necessary, so it probably happened at Anse aux Meadows.

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