The Vikings Discovered America First!

When I was a kid in school, admittedly many years ago, Christopher Columbus was generally credited with discovering America…There were rumors even then though that he may not have been the first European to have discovered America and now more recent archaeological discoveries have confirmed that it was in fact the Vikings who first discovered and set foot on American soil (BTW, something Columbus never actually did himself)….

Today it is an accepted fact that the Vikings predated Columbus’ discovery of America by over 500 years!…Artifacts and archaeological evidence of Viking artifacts and their presence in the Americas from not only Newfoundland, but also in Minnesota, the Great Lakes area and New York have been found in sufficient quantities to validate once and for all the Vikings historical claim to being the rightful discoverers of America, and they should be given full credit for this amazing discovery!

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According to my Google sources: “Nearly 500 years before the birth of Christopher Columbus, a band of European sailors left their homeland behind in search of a new world. Their high-prowed Viking ship sliced through the cobalt waters of the Atlantic Ocean as winds billowed the boat’s enormous single sail. After traversing unfamiliar waters, the Norsemen aboard the wooden ship spied a new land, dropped anchor and went ashore. Half a millennium before Columbus “discovered” America, those Viking feet may have been the first European ones to ever have touched North American soil.

Icelandic legends called sagas recounted Eriksson’s exploits in the New World around A.D. 1000. These Norse stories were spread by word of mouth before becoming recorded in the 12th and 13th centuries. The “Saga of the Greenlanders,” recounts that Eriksson’s voyage to North America was no fluke. Instead, the Viking explorer had heard of a strange land to the west from another Icelandic trader who more than a decade earlier had overshot Greenland and sailed by the shores of North America without setting foot upon it. Eriksson bought the trader’s ship, raised a crew of 35 men and retraced the route in reverse.

After crossing the Atlantic, the Vikings encountered a rocky, barren land in present-day Canada. Researchers believe this location could possibly have been Baffin Island. The Norsemen then voyaged south to a timber-rich location they called  Forestland, most likely in present-day Labrador, before finally setting up a base camp likely on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland.

The Vikings spent an entire winter there and benefited from the milder weather compared to their homeland. They explored the surrounding region abounding with lush meadows, rivers teeming with salmon, and wild grapes so suitable for wine that Eriksson called the region Vinland (Wineland).

After spending the winter in Vinland, Eriksson and his crew sailed home to windswept Greenland with badly needed timber and plentiful portions of grapes.  After his father’s death, he never returned to North America, but other Vikings continued to sail west to Vinland for at least the ensuing decade. In spite of North America’s more bountiful resources, the Viking settlers remained in desolate Greenland. This was perhaps due to the violent encounters—including the slaying of Eriksson’s brother Thorwald–they had with the indigenous population of North America.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence that supports the sagas’ stories of the Norse expeditions to America, found on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland at L’Anse aux Meadows. An international team of archaeologists excavated artifacts of Viking origin dating from around A.D. 1000!

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The Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century AD, when Vikings explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic. including the northeastern fringes of North America….The Norse colony in Greenland lasted for almost 500 years. Continental North American settlements were small and did not develop into permanent colonies. While voyages, for example to collect timber, are likely to have occurred for some time, there is no evidence of enduring Norse settlements on mainland North America.

Why did they abandon L’Anse aux Meadows? After a few years of using L’Anse aux Meadows as a staging area, the Vikings simply found it untenable in terms of supporting a sizable group in that new environment. Too far from home, too many dangers. We know from the sagas that they lost people, and they probably lost ships. L’Anse aux Meadows reached a point where it had to move beyond the exploration phase to the settlement phase, and that was not possible.

We have to remember that this was in the early days of the Greenland colony, which had only a small number of settlers itself, and to have so much of its resources directed toward a perilous new enterprise was not sensible. So I think the sagas are probably correct when they say, “It’s a beautiful, rich land, but we can’t defend ourselves in it.”All in all, I think we have here a real human experience. This is not the wrath of God coming down, it’s not an Ice Age descending. When pondering this extinction story, one has to consider a multiplicity of factors.”

Many Viking artifacts have been found in North America….”In fact a substantial treasure trove of artifacts was recently discovered in Stony Point, New York! A team of landscaping workers, proceeding to an excavation near the banks of the Hudson river, has discovered the archaeological remains of a Norse village dating from the 9th or 10th Century AD!

The workers were digging with a mechanical shovel near the shores of Minisceongo creek, when they stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient building. A team of archaeologists linked to Columbia University, was called to the site to inspect the findings, and they rapidly identified the site as a possible Viking settlement. They proceeded to extend the excavation, and have finally discovered the remains of six buildings.

The various structures are believed to have been constructed of sod, placed over a wooden frame.
It is unclear how many men and women lived at the site at any given time,but the archaeological evidence suggests it had the capacity of supporting between 30 to 100 individuals, and that the site was inhabited by the Norse for a relatively short period of time.The Norse smithy still contained the remains of 10th Century tools and a small quantity of raw iron ore.

During their search of the site, the archaeologists have discovered nine skeletons, who were identified as four adult males, two adult females and three children. Only one of the male warriors had been given a proper burial, being placed in a tomb with his weapon and belongings. The other skeletons showed traces of violent injuries and seemed to have been simply left on the site of their death by the killers.

Many clues discovered on the site suggest that the Vikings could have come into conflict with the indigenous people of the region. Besides the skeletons that were found, who were most likely killed in combat, the numerous remains of native American weapons found on the site suggest the colony suffered a large-scale attack by indigenous warriors.

Several artifacts were also found on the site, suggesting the inhabitants of the site who survived the attack, must have left hastily. These include a dozen of pieces of jewelry, like brooches, pins and arm-rings, mostly made of silver and walrus ivory. The archaeologists also unearthed iron pots, potteries, oil lamps, tools, a whetstone,coins, as well as a few broken weapons and pieces of armor. Dozens of silex arrowheads were found all over the site, suggesting the settlement could have been attacked by the ancestors of the Lenape tribe.”
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“The scientists believe that the settlement could indeed be the legendary Norse colony known as “Vinland”, mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas. Based on the idea that the name meant “wine-land”, historians had long speculated that the region contained wild grapes. Wild grapes were, indeed, still growing in many areas of the Hudson Valley when the first European settlers arrived in the region, so the archaeologists believe that this could really be the colony described in the mythological saga.”

Well there you have it, and the proof is in the pudding, as they say….Definitive evidence of Viking archaeological artifacts have been found scattered all over North America, putting the lie once and for all to the claim that Columbus discovered America, and that they did so 500 years before his epic voyage!…

I am not sure what they are teaching in school these days, but the historical honor of first discovering America clearly belongs to the Vikings!

For more articles by John Whye, click on johnwhye@wordpress.com

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