23 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

More evidence shows Vikings came to North America before Columbus

Although the discovery of North America is synonymous with Christopher Columbus, new research reveals that Viking sailors landed on the shores of North America about 700 years before Columbus.

Archaeologists from the University of Iceland came to this conclusion after analyzing wood recovered from five Norse farmsteads in Greenland, according to a study recently published in the journal Antiquity.

Microscopic analysis of wood suggests that Norse people in Greenland were using timber that came from North America over 700 years ago.

The study focused on the timber used in Norse sites in Greenland between 1000 and 1400. According to the findings, some of the wood came from trees grown outside of Greenland.

As part of the study, 8,552 pieces of wood were examined to determine their origin. Only 26 pieces, or 0.27 percent of the total assemblage, belonged to trees that were definitively imported. These were oak, hemlock, beech, and Jack pine.

“These findings highlight the fact that Norse Greenlanders had the means, knowledge, and appropriate vessels to cross the Davis Strait to the east coast of North America, at least up until the 14th century,” archaeologist Lísabet Guðmundsdóttir from the University of Iceland says.

A study of wood reveals Vikings were traveling to North America around 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Photo: The journal Antiquity
A study of wood reveals Vikings were traveling to North America around 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Photo: The journal Antiquity

“The wood taxa identified in this study show, without doubt, that the Norse harvested timber resources in North America,” researchers said, adding that the trees could have been felled near the Gulf of St. Lawrence in far eastern Canada.

The few pieces of American wood were only found at one farm known as Garðar, the most prominent of the group. “This suggests that high-status farms such as Garðar were probably the only settlements that had both the need and the means to acquire North American timber,” researchers said.

Historical records have long suggested that medieval Norse Greenlandic society (985-1450 CE) imported timber from the Americas, but this is some of the first scientific evidence to support the claim. According to a new study on timber, these epic journeys may have been undertaken in order to hunt for resources.

According to a 13th-century Norwegian text called Konungsskuggsjá, “everything that is needed to improve the land must be purchased abroad, both iron and all the timber used in building houses.”

Grænlendinga saga and Eiríks saga rauða, describe journeys between Greenland to the North American east coast as early as 1000 CE.

Locations of resource areas and potential import routes Figure from the journal Antiquity
Locations of resource areas and potential import routes Figure from the journal Antiquity

There is sturdy evidence to back up this idea. Texts from 14th-century Italy speak of Norsemen making direct contact with a place called Markland, thought to be part of the Labrador coast in Canada.

As for hard evidence of Norse settlements in North America, archeologists in the 1960s excavated a Viking village on the island of Newfoundland that dates to approximately 1,000 years ago. Known as the L’Anse aux Meadows, it’s widely considered to be the earliest evidence of European presence in North America.

According to researchers, the study’s results appear to support claims made in medieval texts that wood was brought from the New World to Europe.

Related Articles

A 2900-year-old collection of fossilized shark teeth found in the City of David, one of Jerusalem’s oldest Parts

5 July 2021

5 July 2021

Scientists discovered an inexplicable collection of fossilized shark teeth at a 2900-year-old archaeological site in Jerusalem’s City of David, one...

‘Proof of biblical kings’, Israel deciphers 8th century BC Hezekiah inscription after a decade of research

17 December 2022

17 December 2022

Israeli archeologists have deciphered an 8th-century BC inscription discovered on a palm-sized stone tablet after a decade of research.  The...

A Little-Known Civilization in the Americas Built Pyramids as Old as Ancient Egypt

26 June 2022

26 June 2022

Considered the cradle of civilization in the Americas, the Sacred City of Caral-Supe is a 5000-year-old archaeological site, situated on...

Return of a 4,250-year-old Hattian golden beak-spouted ewer to Turkey

27 October 2021

27 October 2021

The 4,250-year-old golden beak-spouted ewer was returned to the Anatolian Civilizations Museum by the Gilbert Art Foundation. Culture and Tourism...

Ancient City Cistern Found Near Croatia’s Iconic Fountain

15 February 2024

15 February 2024

An island-speckled coastline and ancient walled towns place Croatia among the world’s best-beauty cities. But there’s even more to this...

The remains of two new Doric temples are discovered under the Italian site of Paestum

15 January 2024

15 January 2024

Archaeologists have unearthed two new temples in the Doric style in Paestum, an ancient Greek colony in southern Italy. The...

Ancient rituals recorded on 2,000-year-old bamboo slips deciphered

18 December 2023

18 December 2023

Scholars of China’s Tsinghua University have deciphered five documents recorded on bamboo slips dating back to the Warring States period...

A basement discovered on the premises of the ruins of Hitoyoshi Castle in Japan could be a Jewish bathing facility!

7 December 2022

7 December 2022

Experts are still indecisive about why there was a bathing area in the basement which was discovered on the site...

Norwegian couple found a Viking Age Grave And Sword in their garden

3 July 2023

3 July 2023

While trying to expand their home, a Norwegian couple found a Viking Age grave and sword in their garden. It’s...

Archaeologists have discovered sandstone blocks belonging to a pharaoh’s temple covered with hieroglyphs in Sudan

2 March 2023

2 March 2023

Polish archaeologists have discovered sandstone blocks belonging to a pharaoh’s temple covered with hieroglyphs during excavations at Old Dongola in...

Khufu Boat moved to its New Museum by Smart Vehicle

8 August 2021

8 August 2021

A 4,600-year-old intact wooden boat bearing the name of an Egyptian pharaoh, Khufu, was transported to a new museum about...

A woman in Norway found Viking-age 1000-year-old hoard in basement

20 April 2023

20 April 2023

A woman in Norway cleaned her parents’ home, she found 32 iron ingots dating to the Viking or early Middle...

4,000-Year-Old Lion Jaw Bone Unearthed in Kültepe

14 September 2021

14 September 2021

Excavations continue in Kültepe, the starting point of Anatolian written history. During the excavations, a 4,000-year-old lion jawbone was unearthed....

The largest embalming cache ever found in Egypt unearthed at Abusir

10 February 2022

10 February 2022

Archaeologists from the Czech Institute for Egyptian Science have discovered a cache of artifacts related to the practice of Egyptian...

Archaeologists discover three extraordinary 1,800-year-old residential-style tombs featuring rooms and windows, Filled with Han Dynasty Treasures

19 May 2024

19 May 2024

Archaeologists discovered three remarkable 1,800-year-old, residential-style tombs featuring rooms and windows, where a wealthy family was laid to rest alongside...