Vikings crossed the Atlantic 1,000 years ago, nearly five centuries before Columbus – .

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Vikings crossed the Atlantic 1,000 years ago, nearly five centuries before Columbus – .


New Dating Technology Accurates Time By Studying The Effect Of Solar Storms On Tree Growth Rings

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Long before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic, eight sod-covered timber-framed buildings stood on a terrace above a bog and stream at the northern tip of Newfoundland, proof that the Vikings had reached the New World first.

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But precisely when the Vikings traveled to establish the settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows had remained unclear – until now.

Scientists said on Wednesday that a new type of dating technique using a solar storm from long ago as a reference point revealed that the colony was occupied in 1021 CE, exactly one millennium and 471 years ago. before Columbus’ first voyage. The technique was used on three pieces of timber cut for settlement, all pointing to the same year.

The Viking journey represents several milestones for humanity. The regulations offer the oldest known evidence of a transatlantic crossing. It also marks the spot where the globe was finally encircled by humans, who thousands of years earlier had traveled North America on a land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska.

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“These northern Europeans are to be congratulated 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 .

The Vikings were sailors with Nordic homelands. They ventured across Europe, sometimes colonizing and sometimes trading or raiding and even enlisting as mercenaries. They had extraordinary boat building and navigation skills and established settlements in Iceland and Greenland.

“I think it’s fair to describe the journey as both a journey of discovery and a search for new sources of raw materials,” Dee said. “Many archaeologists believe that the main motivation for them to search for these new territories was to discover new sources of timber, in particular. It is generally believed that they started from Greenland, where suitable timber for construction is extremely scarce.

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Viking ships always sported carved details, especially images of their patron gods and animal spirits. Photo de Getty Images

Their longboats were propelled by sail and oar. A surviving specimen, called the Oseberg ship, is approximately 21.6 meters long.

The Viking Age is traditionally defined as 793-1066 CE, exhibiting a wide range for the time of the transatlantic crossing. Ordinary radiocarbon dating – determining the age of organic material by measuring its content of a particular radioactive isotope of carbon – has proven too imprecise to date L’Anse aux Meadows, which was discovered in 1960, although the it is generally believed to be the 11th century.

The new dating method is based on the fact that solar storms produce a distinctive radiocarbon signal in the annual growth rings of a tree. It was known that there had been a major solar storm – an explosion of high-energy cosmic rays from the sun – in 992.

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In the three pieces of wood examined, from three different trees, 29 growth rings formed after the one that bore evidence of the solar storm, meaning the wood was cut in 1021, said the archaeologist of the University of Groningen, Margot Kuitems, first author of the study.

It was not the local natives who cut the wood, Dee said, because there is evidence of metal blades, which they did not have.

The duration of the occupation remains uncertain, although it may have lasted a decade or less, and perhaps 100 Norse were present at one point, Dee said. Their structures resembled Scandinavian buildings in Greenland and Iceland.

Oral histories called the Icelandic sagas describe a Viking presence in the Americas. Written centuries later, they describe a chief named Leif Erikson and a colony called Vinland, as well as violent and peaceful interactions with local people, including the capture of slaves.

The date of 1021 roughly matches the accounts of the saga, Dee said, adding, “So this begs the question, to what extent is the rest of the saga’s adventures true? “

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