V.Or exactly a thousand years ago, in 1021, the Vikings seem to have lived in North America. It is based on a detailed analysis of the tree remains currently presented by an international team of researchers in the current issue of Nature. These finds are the earliest evidence of people coming to the United States from Europe. When determining the age of the pieces of wood, researchers working with Michael Dee of the University of Croningen relied on traces of a violent solar storm that occurred a few years ago.
It has been known for some time that Columbus was not the first European to reach the American continent. Finally, at least, the Sagas, the old Norse tales of the Middle Ages, describe in detail how the Vikings made long voyages across the Atlantic hundreds of years ago. But these stories, initially sent orally, have long been dismissed as myths and fairy tales – because they have so many contradictory and wonderful elements.
Traces of metal knives
Icelandic mythology became historical evidence until the discovery of the L’Anse aux Meadows archeological site in the northern tip of Newfoundland in 1961. The exact age of immigration and the exact time of the Vikings’ arrival on the American continent have not yet been determined.
Three obscure pieces of wood from different trees found in the L’Ans Oaks meadow have now been dated more accurately by researchers. Scientists are convinced that wooden artifacts can be assigned to the Northern European navy – not only because of the location they discovered, but also because they clearly showed signs of processing from metal knives – a material time not created by local people.
In answer to the question of when the pieces of wood in question were processed, radiocarbon dating helped scientists carry out archaeological research at the University of Groningen and the Kurt Engelhorn Center in Mannheim. A cosmic phenomenon from 992 AD. At that time there was a great solar storm, which in the following years produced a clear radiocarbon signal in the wood rings.
New brand for Atlantic communications
“A clear increase in radiocarbon production between 992 and 993 AD has been noted in wood ring archives around the world,” explains Research Director Dee. The signal was shown in each of the three wood objects examined for 29 growth rings in front of the bark edge. “The fact that we saw the signal of a solar storm there allows us to conclude that the cutting action took place in 1021 AD,” said Margot Guidems of the University of Groningen.
According to the authors of the study, the analysis sets a new marker for the arrival of Europeans on the American continent. In addition, the potential value of cosmic radiation events – such as strong solar storms here – shows itself as reference points for the future date of artifacts and environmental events.
It is not clear how many voyages the Vikings made to the United States and how long they stayed on the continent. The origin of the Viking settlements and the impact on the environment are not yet known. Scientists write that Icelandic legends say that the Vikings entered into a cultural exchange with the indigenous peoples of North America. “If these encounters had actually taken place, they would have had unintended consequences, such as the spread of pathogens, the introduction of alien animal and plant species, or the exchange of human genetic information.”
However, recent data from the population of northern Greenland show no evidence of the latter. The authors conclude: “The subject of future research is how AD 1021 relates to the overall Viking Atlantic activities. Nevertheless, our results provide a chronological anchor for further investigation into the effects of their Western expansion.
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