L’Anse aux Meadows

The Guardian article about Erdoğan’s Bartonesque way with history said that

Some researchers believe Vikings reached America before the end of the first millennium.

No, it’s not some and it’s not “believe” – there’s solid evidence that they did. It’s from
L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

In the early 1960s, archaeologists Helge Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine Ingstad undertook a close survey of the coastlines of Newfoundland and Labrador. Ingstad, a Norse investigator, had spent the majority of his career studying Northern and Arctic civilizations, and was following up on research into the Viking explorations of the 10th and 11th centuries. In 1961, the survey paid off, and the Ingstads discovered an indisputably Viking settlement near Epave Bay and named the site “L’Anse aux Meadows,” or Jellyfish Cove, a reference to the stinging jellyfish found in the bay.

Eleventh century Norse artifacts recovered from l’Anse aux Meadows numbered in the hundreds, and included a soapstone spindle whorl and a bronze-ringed pin process, as well as other iron, bronze, stone, and bone items. Radiocarbon dates placed the occupation at the site between ~990-1030 AD.

It was a failed settlement, that lasted only 3 to 10 years.


  1. Thomas Hobbes says

    Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse, mentions a silver coin found at a Native American archeological site. The great thing about coins is that they are usually clear about what they are and where they come from. This one was, apparently, “a silver penny minted in Norway between 1065 and 1080 during the reign of King Olav the Quiet, found at an Indian site on the coast of Maine hundreds of miles south of Labrador, and pierced for use as a pendant.” (p.209).

  2. RJW says

    Yes, for the umpteenth time, Vikings reached North America 500 years before Colombus.
    What some researchers believe is that Colombus knew about the Viking expeditions and assumed that North America was Asia which led him to underestimate the size of the Earth, but there’s definitely no evidence for that theory.

    Muslim scientists and philosophers made significant contributions to learning during the Middle Ages, rather than resorting to Islamist fantasies, Erdogan should campaign for the recognition of Muslims’ real achievements. His barking-mad idea should be filed next to claims that no one knew that the Earth was round before the Koran.

  3. says

    WTF is it with “Muslim”? How about what particular persons or culture or regional unit was instrumental to discovery? “Catholics discovered the laws of genetic inheritance.” Because all of everyone fitting into a category remotely is part of a monolithic structure and equally provided foundation for, and benefited from, said discoveries. Right.

    This sort of thing just reinforces the bigoted types who like to paint all Muslims as terrorists or whatever. Dumbasses like their broad brushes. More like double-wide rollers.

  4. lpetrich says

    Curious that the Vinland settlement did not last. Its climate is nicer than Greenland’s, and it was likely much more sustainable than their Greenland colony. It could have been the beginning of a Norse New World nation.

    Another missed opportunity was with China’s Treasure Fleets. They didn’t create Chinese colonies, and they didn’t go eastward and reach the North American West Coast.

    So that’s why we Americans aren’t speaking Norwegian or Chinese.

  5. Decker says

    If you think this is loony, you should check out the “scientific” claims of the Islamic travelling show “1,001 Muslim inventions” It’s been on a cross country tour enlightening The Kuffur.

    They invented the camera, manned flight, were the first to fly using rockets etc, etc.

    There are Muslims who claimed Neil Armstrong, upon setting foot on the moon, hear the Muslim call to prayer

    The latest claims making the rounds assert that Einstein really wasn’t Jewish, but in fact a Muslim

  6. RJW says

    @9 Decker,

    Agreed. Muslims made considerable scientific advances during the Middle Ages, however nonsense such as the “1001 Muslim Inventions” undermines any claims that they have for a recognition of their achievements by informed Kuffars.

    @8 Ipetrich,

    The reasons that the Viking settlement failed are probably because they didn’t have the technological superiority of 16th century Europeans, no gunpowder and probably no, or not enough, horses, so North America might have seemed more trouble than it was worth, Mesoamerica was a different story of course.
    When the Vikings first colonised Greenland, the climate was less severe than it is today, it might have seemed a better bet, no hostile inhabitants. Climate change, the medieval, ‘Little Ice Age’ was probably the cause of the failure of the Norse colonies in Greenland, the environmental conditions progressively favored the Inuit and the Vikings couldn’t, or wouldn’t adapt.

  7. LC says

    And don’t forget disease. If the Norsemen didn’t happen to bring the particular pathogens that proved so devastating to the local population, they would have been vastly outnumbered. Still, given how willing they were to set up trading colonies elsewhere, they wouldn’t have necessarily needed military superiority. Maybe the locals were particularly ornery, or maybe just some bad timing with harvests/game/local conditions when they tried the first time.

  8. RJW says

    @11 LC

    Yes, Europeans were also the victims of disease and for various other reasons many colonising attempts ended in failure and sometimes tragedy, however the point is that, apparently, the Vikings didn’t made any more attempts, unlike Europeans after 1492. The difference is that there were advanced civilisations in Mesoamerica and opportunities for plunder, unlike NE North America which probably wasn’t all that promising to the Vikings. We have the benefit of hindsight.

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