Vikings were in America exactly 1,000 years ago. Science

Vikings were in America exactly 1,000 years ago.  Science

A cosmic event recorded in trees of millennia across the planet allowed us to date exactly when Vikings were in America. Researchers don’t know when they arrived or how long they lived, but wooden rings from various objects suggest that Norse settled in northern Canada exactly a millennium ago, in 1021.

In addition to Icelandic greens, part of Oral History of the Nordic Peoples, there are not much references to Viking presence in America. The most consistent evidence is the archaeological site of L’Anse aux Meadows (Jelly Inlet) on the island of Newfoundland in the far northeast of Canada. In the excavations carried out in the sixties of the last century, there was evidence that these houses were built by the Vikings. One such evidence is a sharp, angular cut in wood, something that could only be done with axes or other metal tools. And the natives of the region were unaware of metallurgy. Due to the oral tradition and architectural style of the buildings, historians believe that L’Anse aux Meadows was built around the end of the first millennium. But till now the exact date was unknown.

taking advantage of a solar storm that hit earth In the year 992, a group of scientists managed to find out when the Vikings arrived in America, but not when they were already there. The innovative and original way of detecting this is explained by Michael D, a researcher and director of research at the University of Groningen (Netherlands): “Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and incorporate it into their rings during their growth”, this The professor says chronology by isotopes. This discipline relies on the fact that the various elements of the periodic table change their atomic composition (isotopes) upon radiation at a known rate. “Part of that carbon is radiocarbon,” Dee says. And that year the level went up.

Wood samples from the Viking Archaeological Site were analyzed in which you can see both metal cuts and tree rings. M. Kuitems / University of Groningen

The details of the survey were published in the latest issue of the journal Nature. “they exist Records of rings made of wood from trees around the world millennia, or preserved in swamps or peat bogs, without knowing the exact year of development of each ring”, explains D. This is the basis of a science known as dendrochronology, which uses rings as time markers. Thus, the age of a tree is not only known. By capturing environmental conditions, logs can tell stories about past glacial, volcanic eruptions, when magnetic poles reversed or what’s up with climate change. Recently, says Dee, “a peak in the concentration of radiocarbon was discovered in the ring corresponding to the year 993”, that is, the year after the solar storm, whose cosmic rays would have increased the concentration of carbon-14. . in the environment.

What he did at his Isotope Research Center was to analyze three pieces of wood found at L’Anse aux Meadows. All three are from different trees (a Christmas pine, a juniper and a cypress) and all three have a 993 discrepancy engraved on them. The ring is 993. We only had to count to the edge of the bark to determine when the last ring was formed, that is, when the tree was cut down. We applied the same method to three different pieces of wood from three different trees, and they all returned a cut date of 1021″, the Dutch scientist explains.

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Many carbon isotopes coexist in the atmosphere (carbon 12, carbon 13, carbon 14), recalls dendrochronologist Ral Sánchez-Salguero of Pablo de Olavide University. “Solar storms disturb the Earth’s magnetism, modifying the atmospheric composition, for example by disturbing the relationship between 12 and 14. During the photosynthesis process, trees capture these variations”, he explains. “The year 992, like the year 774, was a brutal cosmic event recorded by trees across the planet, hence the accuracy of the dating of the Viking wood,” he says.

Although the Vikings arrived in the Americas about 500 years before Columbus, their presence did not extend far beyond Jellyfish Cove, not even in time. The Dutch researcher summed it up: “Scientifically we can’t say much about how long they lived. They spent a year or so on short migrations. Or maybe they stayed a little longer, maybe a decade. All archaeological evidence suggests that their migration was relatively short”.

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About the author: Raven Weber

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