back to article Space archeologist discovers new evidence of Vikings invading America

Archeologists using the most advanced satellite scanning methods think they've found a new Viking settlement in the North American continent. Professor Sarah Parcak, from the University of Alabama's Archeology Department, has pioneered the use of satellite imaging in archeology and has spent the last year looking for new …

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  1. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    By a curious coincidence, xeno-archeologists on the planet Lambda Aurigae IV are also in the process of an exciting new viking discovery.

    In their case it's the sudden onslaught of radio-frequency signals that when decoded go:

    Spam,spam-spam-spam

    Spam,spam-spam-spam

    Spam,spam-spam-spam Glorious spam, magnificent spam!

    Spam,spam-spam-spam Surgical spam, splendiferous spam!

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Surgical spam?!? Surely it's lovely spam?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Bah!

        Shad'up!

        .....

        .....

        Bloody vikings....

        Mines the one with the opening key in it.

        1. Mpeler
          Coat

          Re: Bah!

          We looked for intelligent life - we found none...

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Bah!

            We looked for intelligent life - we found none...

            Oh my eyes! I read that as intelligent wife.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Surely

        Translation error? Signal's pretty attenuated out there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Surely

          ... don't call me Shirley.

          1. PNGuinn Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Surely

            Don't call a VIKING Shirley ....

            Thanks - mine's the one with the tin of ....

          2. Chemical Bob Bronze badge

            Re: Shirley

            ... don't call me, Shirley.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Shirley

              ... don't call me, Shirley.

              OK. How about Schartzmugel?

  2. A. Coatsworth
    Meh

    So these Vikings were the first Europeans to map the coasts of 'Newfoundland'

    Any news of clashes with 'the complex and diverse societies of indigenous people/s' during their 'occupation'?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Do you mean to tell me that you don't remember this famous 1970s documentary? Shocked. I'm shocked.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      "Any news of clashes with 'the complex and diverse societies of indigenous people/s' during their 'occupation'?"

      Yes there is one, a very short one, where some natives turned up on the beach and they went down to kill them. No additional thoughts or details in that short sentence. Perhaps not such a good solution for their own future. Still it's probably evident that they were just not able to get any number of people interested in moving there. Not that they didn't try, like by calling Greenland green and calling Newfoundland Vinland (vineland). Good marketing efforts though. Walking on thin ice here as too serious boffins might disagree furiously. Came to think about the date to day too.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        "Any news of clashes with 'the complex and diverse societies of indigenous people/s' during their 'occupation'?"

        Yes there is one, a very short one, where some natives turned up on the beach and they went down to kill them. No additional thoughts or details in that short sentence.

        There's more than that:

        One old source held that Skraelings, or Inuit, who had crossed over from Ellesmere Island in the far north around A.D. 1000, migrated down the west coast and overran the settlement. Ivar Bardarson, steward of the Church's property in Greenland, and a member of a sister settlement 300 miles to the southeast, was said to have gathered a force and sailed northwest to drive the interlopers out, but "when they came hither, behold they found no man, neither Christian nor heathen, naught but some wild cattle and sheep, and they killed as many of the wild cattle and sheep as they could carry and with them returned to their houses."

        Not sure if my response is furious, or not ;-)

        And it's April 3. Not sure what that signifies.

    3. arctic_haze Silver badge

      The news of clashes with indigenous people do exist

      The Vinland saga describes many clashes in detail. In fact they were were describe to explain why the exploration of Vineland had been abandoned. A short resume from the Wikipedia "Vineland" article:

      "One morning they see nine hide boats; the local people (Skraelings) examine the Norse ships and depart in peace. Later a much larger flotilla of boats arrives, and trade commences (Karlsefni forbids the sale of weapons). One day, the local traders are frightened by the sudden arrival of the Greenlanders' bull, and they stay away for three weeks. They then attack in force, but the explorers manage to survive with only minor casualties by retreating inland to a defensive position a short distance from their camp. Pregnancy slows Freydis down, so she picks up the sword of a fallen companion and brandishes it against her bare breast, scaring the attackers into withdrawal. One of the local people picks up an iron axe, tries it, and throws it away. The explorers subsequently abandon the southern camp and sail back to Straumsfjord, killing five natives they encounter on the way, lying asleep in hide sacks."

      There should be a movie about this. Especially the part where Freydis, daughter of Eric the Red, goes berserk and topless at the same time. Good Hollywood stuff!

      1. x 7 Silver badge

        Re: The news of clashes with indigenous people do exist

        "There should be a movie about this. Especially the part where Freydis, daughter of Eric the Red, goes berserk and topless at the same time. Good Hollywood stuff!"

        the wiki article about her at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freyd%C3%ADs_Eir%C3%ADksd%C3%B3ttir (not sure if that link will work) makes her out to be a bloodthirsty murderous lying nutter

        She probably didn't scare the enemy off - they just looked at her and thought "8-month pregnant loony, probably been eating crap, let her get on with it, not our problem"

        Good movie? Probably not, more suited to an Vinlandic version of East Enders. Vin-Enders anyone?

    4. YARR

      DISINFORMATION: the first Europeans to arrive in North America

      Archaeological evidence of arrowheads suggests the Solutreans originating from modern day France were the first known Europeans to arrive in North America. They are believed to have skirted the edge of the ice shelf during the last ice age, rather than using ocean-going vessels.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HOGWASH!

    Everyone knows that Gerard Depardieu discovered America first!

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: HOGWASH!

      I have a feeling that the "red Indians" discovered North America first, but if you look at the chart from Norway to Iceland to Greenland then Newfoundland looks quite plausible and inevitable and apart from that there are the written "evidence". Not, though, the wholly sort like Noah but just sort of more believable. But I have strong opposition to the word "invade", lets just be a bit modest in that respect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: HOGWASH!

        '..but if you look at the chart from Norway to Iceland to Greenland then Newfoundland looks quite plausible and inevitable and apart from that there are the written "evidence". '

        I'll just throw in here that the Irish were in Iceland when the Vikings got there, ditto re the Faroes (and this is according to the Vikings themselves and archaeological evidence).

        I'll also throw into the ring, mainly for the hell of it, the theory that the Phoenicians got to the Americas before Columbus, or was that the Egyptians..Cocaine Mummies, anyone?, or, step forward also, the Chinese..or even (cue dramatic music) The Knights Templar.

        Honourable mentions also, the Israelis (lost tribes Dept), the Bretons/Gauls, the Beaker People..

        'I have a feeling that the "red Indians" discovered North America first..'

        Is the only thing that matters, anything else, I always have a feeling that it's a seriously stupid and pointless game of pissing up the wall primarily being played out betwixt the Latins and Nordics.

        I'm not taking anything away from the actual Archaeology, that's actually interesting and, despite being of the Hiberno-Scots persuasion, I hope they can conclusively prove it is an ancient Viking settlement as it shows that our (collective) ancestors were a lot more mobile (and capable) that previous generations of historians thought/gave them credit for.

        Anyway, even if it is a Viking settlement, it never 'took'; no fleet ever arrived from Valhalla and the Battle of Gibraltar never happened...

        1. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: HOGWASH!

          "it shows that our (collective) ancestors were a lot more mobile (and capable) that previous generations of historians thought/gave them credit for.". Yes I fully agree with that".

          Valhalla, however, is where you go to enjoy afterlife, if a "believer". A one-way resort. I haven't made up my mind just yet. Valhalla sounds like more fun than heaven where there is only harp playing and the risk of having a dumb lawyer and ending down in hell. Virgins are short lasting. I suppose there are reasons I enjoyed reading Mark Twain's "Letters from the Earth".

          "Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very, very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm."

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: HOGWASH!

            Valhalla sounds like more fun than heaven where there is only harp playing

            Jeshua the Nazarene (aka Jesus of Nazareth for some odd reason) said (according to several Bibles in my library): "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand". That was ~2,000 years ago, so it seems most likely he meant by "at hand" here and now. Or in the immortal words of Frank Zappa: "You'd better dig it while it's happening".

            I'll leave the belief in The Afterlife to those unable to enjoy themselves in the present.

          2. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: HOGWASH!

            our (collective) ancestors were a lot more mobile (and capable) that previous generations of historians thought/gave them credit for

            The Git noted in another thread:

            Oddly enough, the discovery of the Lake Mungo human remains calls into question the Out of Africa hypothesis. As I noted earlier, the mtDNA is not that of mitochondrial Eve that all living humans appear to possess. It's far from the realms of possibility that they were the creators of the Bradshaw rock art that is found at ~100,000 sites spread over 50,000 km^2 of northern Australia. This rock art is attributed by the local Aboriginal people to unknown predecessors and they confess to having no understanding of what the art's meaning is. This is hardly surprising. It frequently depicts people, and boats with keels and rudders rather than animals.

            Dating the art has been problematic; the pigments have become as one with the rock. One such work is [partially] covered by a fossilised wasp's nest dated to ~17,000 years before the present. That's considerably older than the pyramids at Gizeh and intriguingly earlier than the supposed invention of keels and rudders. The rudder is supposedly an invention of the first century AD by the Chinese.

            While unanswered questions intrigue those of us of a Gittish Nature, the Black Armbanders have thus far successfully managed to stifle any meaningful investigation of such things. So it goes...

            Erich von Däniken attributed the Bradshaws to people from outer space. The Git's always puzzled by such fantasies when the truths we uncover are generally fascinating enough to need no embellishment.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: HOGWASH!

            '..Valhalla, however, is where you go to enjoy afterlife, if a "believer".'

            Sorry, that was a obscurish Pratchett reference..

            '..The big migration followed automatically. The Turks were again pushing west and north. Leiv's father, Eirik, was a shrewd salesman. His Greenland had turned out nowhere like as green as it had been in his imagination, but from Vinland Leiv had thoughtfully brought rich berries and wild grains.

            The Northmen went west again. They leap-frogged colony after colony down the eastern seaboard, up into the base rugged lands around Tyker's Sea and down the Long Fjord into the Middle Seas.

            It was the landscape of their dreams. They called it Valhalla.

            There were natives. But the newcomers were only half-hearted farmers -- underneath the agricultural veneer they thought bloody. Those tribes they couldn't out fight they outthought. When they met the Objibwa Confederacy they made treaties. And they spread, and merged.

            By all the theories it should have ended there. Neither the natives nor the invaders had the textbook kind of social dynamic that builds Remes. The Northmen should have become just another tribe, with blue eyes and fair hair. The theories were wrong. Something latent in both races was sparked into fire.

            It was a big continent, and it was rich. In short, 300 years after Leiv, a fleet arrived at the mouth of the Mediterranean. Most of the vessels were under sail although there were one or two, small, fast and inclined to blow up, that could move into the wind. The sails of the big ships bore the Great Eagle of Valhalla on a striped background alternating the colours of the sky, the snow and blood.

            The Battle of Gibraltar was short. Europe had been through 200 years of stagnation. There was no answer to cannon.' - Strata - Terry Pratchett

          4. Random Handle

            Re: HOGWASH!

            >Valhalla sounds like more fun than heaven where there is only harp playing

            But heavenly harping is eternal - Valhalla is only temporary respite while you wait for another final glorious death and cold oblivion. Some versions have an Earth reboot, but only for two survivors - imagine how annoying Jehovah's Witnesses would be with those odds.

      2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: HOGWASH!

        TFA is talking about first European occupation, not first discovery or occupation.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: HOGWASH!

        "I have a feeling that the "red Indians" discovered North America first"

        Except they didn't. There's a growing body of archaeological evidence to indicate the the American Plains Indians were just one of a long line of "invaders" and not the "aboriginal peoples" they claim.

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Re: HOGWASH!

      > Everyone knows that Gerard Depardieu discovered America first!

      Naw, the Justified Ancients of MuMu were there first.

  4. Miss Config
    FAIL

    Space Archeology ?

    Am I the only ignoramus who has never heard of the field of Space Archeology ?

    Does the Reg at least have a sub-folder for it in Science ?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Space Archeology ?

      Clickbait, sort of...

      But there should be proper space archeology.

      Oh well, let's watch Archeology Today.

      1. Robin Bradshaw

        Re: Space Archeology ?

        Its not quite "space" archeology, but the UK airborne LIDAR dataset is close.

        Here is stonehenge:

        https://houseprices.io/lab/lidar/map?ref=SU122422

        1. BoldMan

          Re: Space Archeology ?

          Thats an old shot of Stonehenge - they've dug up that road that went past the Heel Stone and the visitors centre is further away...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Space Archeology ?

      Could this be the ultimate mash-up we Indy fans have been waiting for?

      "ALIENS VS INDIANA JONES"

  5. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Does this mean

    we can stop celebrating "Columbus say" and honor Italians for some real accomplishments?

    Backdating to the Romans gets us quite a few, and the Etruscans were damn cool. More recently, a tractor company producing real sports cars. And the food, of course.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean

      Pasta, Risotto, Grappa and Alfa Romeo... that's me sold on the idea!

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Does this mean

        The tractor company is, or was, Lamborghini. I have driven one. Nothing that novel for a tractor. but there are bragging rights.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Does this mean

          The tractor company is Lamborghini.

          Ferruccio Lamborghini started building tractors in 1948 and added building sports cars in 1963.

          There are several stories or rather legends around this. The one I like best is that Lamborghini, being a successful Italian businessman, bought himself a Ferrari - and complained about mechanical problems. Which, according to legend, led to a blazing row with Enzo Ferrari. Culminating in Enzo telling Ferruccio that he was only fit to drive tractors, not a refined sports car. And Ferruccio telling Enzo fine, I'll build my own - and better - car.

          The one I like least is that Lamborghini started building sports cars as a marketing ploy. (I think the proper marketing blurb is to grow the brand.)

    2. KA1AXY

      Re: Does this mean

      Don't forget radio...and more importantly, building an extremely profitable business around it.

    3. grumpyoldeyore

      a tractor company producing real sports cars

      Ah! You mean when a tractor company won an F1 race?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-wheel_drive_in_Formula_One

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: a tractor company producing real sports cars

        Ah! You mean when a tractor company won an F1 race?

        I thought he was expressing surprise having "discovered" that a tractor company made tractors. Townies are funny that way. Nothing like the surprise they express when you show them that chickens' eggs come out of their shit-hole though. A surprising number believe you when you tell them that while milk comes from cows, cream come from bulls. "Make sure you grab the fencewire good and tight while you climb through" is good for a laugh as well :-)

        1. LINCARD1000
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: a tractor company producing real sports cars

          A friend of mine refers to eggs as "bum nuts"... and now it vaguely creeps me out every time I eat one :-)

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Does this mean

      I thought the Columbus Day was already thrown out the window in the USA because he was a nasty person.

      For an Italian to honour, and with an IT angle, I would suggest Olivetti. (Although I had two Alfa Romeo Berlina cars (1750 and 2000)).

      About Olivetti:

      "The first commercial programmable "desktop computer", the Programma 101, was produced by Olivetti in 1964 and was a commercial success.". Remember Apple Computer was founded 1976 and Microsoft 1975. (with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s).

      As overlooked (pushed under the rug) as Zuse in the Anglo-American "mindset".

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Does this mean

        "The first commercial programmable "desktop computer", the Programma 101, was produced by Olivetti in 1964 and was a commercial success."

        I don't remember that model, but I do remember the P203. Illustrated here:

        http://www.technikum29.de/en/computer/commercial

        A friend of mine had one. The accounting machine I owned was a Mercedes illustrated here:

        http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/online_science/explore_our_collections/objects/index/smxg-60419

        Only reason I purchased it was so I could say, truthfully, "I own a Mercedes".

      2. x 7 Silver badge

        Re: Does this mean

        "I had two Alfa Romeo Berlina cars (1750 and 2000)"

        Alfa were building cars in 1750? I never knew that. And is your name Metheusela?

        1. Lars Silver badge

          Re: Does this mean

          @x 7, I also had a 2950 Volvo 164. Go figure.

  6. Rol Silver badge

    Well, I heard...

    ..flint tools napped in a fashion that almost fingerprints them to a tribe originating in the French region pre-dates any Viking venture by aeons.

    It was suggested they took the flimsy fishing boats of the day along the edge of a hugely extended ice shelf during the last ice age, which kind of makes sense, when you consider they were going totally stone age on each other for resources.

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    What happened to them?

    One question remains, why did the settlements die out? I read somewhere that some think these settlements were only inhabited part of the year.

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Re: What happened to them?

      The Viking Age was quite warm and they did okay. Then the Little Ice Age froze them out. Also they were by chance in a bad position for exploring west, with prevailing winds directly against them. I figure it's daunting to cross large cold ocean gaps of unknown extent against the wind.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: What happened to them?

        Big John

        Ah but you're forgetting that the Vikings and other Norsemen had the ability to navigate along the latitudes with sunsticks (a sort of sundial one held in one's hand). With such a device it's easy to travel any distance across open oceans going directly East to West.

        Plus, of course, it's not hard to hop from Norway to Iceland to Greenland to Newfoundland and back again.

        The only thing that could possibly surprise me is that if they somehow managed to prove that they didn't get there at all.

        Yours etc.,

        Prince Madog

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: What happened to them?

          Ah but you're forgetting that the Vikings and other Norsemen had the ability to navigate along the latitudes with sunsticks (a sort of sundial one held in one's hand).

          Not just sunsticks, sunstones when the sun was obscured by clouds and fog. Nature news item here:

          http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110131/full/news.2011.58.html

          The paper referred to makes interesting reading.

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