The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Nature, were able to determine the date of the Vikings’ presence by analyzing three pieces of wood from three different trees that had been cut by the Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows, a national historic site. from Newfoundland, Canada. The site has long been revered for being the first known evidence of European presence in the Americas, according to Parks Canada, but the exact date of the Viking presence was not known.
The researchers used radiocarbon dating – a way to estimate age based on the amount of carbon in a living thing – on the wood to determine the arrival of the Vikings. The method allows for a rough estimate, but what really reduced it for the researchers was a massive solar storm that occurred in AD 992. The huge explosions of energy emitted by the sun put extra carbon into the atmosphere, thus increasing the amount of carbon in living things during this time.
The pieces of wood the Vikings cut have tree rings still visible. One of the rings corresponded to the solar storm and had 29 growth rings that subsequently formed, meaning the wood was cut 29 years after the solar storm in 992 AD – in 1021.
All of the pieces of wood had been clearly cut with metal tools, which was evident by their “characteristically clean low-angle cuts,” the researchers said. Such tools were not present in the indigenous communities of the region at that time.
In their paper, the researchers said that 1021 AD now marks the “first known year in which human migration encircled the planet,” proving that the Vikings arrived in North America 471 years before Christopher Columbus, who s ‘ventured to the Bahamas in 1492.
L’Anse aux Meadows is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which the organization says contains “exceptional archaeological” elements, including eight wood-frame turf structures. These structures, according to UNESCO, are built in the same style as those found in northern Greenland and Iceland from the same period. Other artifacts found at the site indicate that the Vikings produced iron and wood products.
According to Parks Canada, at least five or six native tribes lived in the area 6,000 years ago. In 2019, researchers published their findings on numerous stone tools and other artifacts of Indigenous groups at L’Anse aux Meadows, leading them to believe there may have been more interactions between Vikings and Indigenous groups. than previously thought.