With the help of the medieval sagas and satellite imaging, a team of archaeologists made an amazing discovery in Canada, a discovery that could rewrite the history of the journeys the Vikings have made in the New World.
In medieval times, sagas were considered true works of literature that captured the prowess of the Vikings, the way they masterfully sailed the seas and how they ventured far from their native lands to reach distant countries.
In some of these stories we can find data indicating that the Vikings made the first journey to North America at least 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Is this true? How many facts and how much fiction exists in these sagas written between the 13th and the 14th century? And if there is a grain of truth in them, how much of the new world were the Northerners able to explore?
Archaeologists have managed to find in 1960, in northern Canada, a place where Vikings appear to have lived more than a millennium ago: L’Anse aux Meadows. This proved that there was some truth in the sagas. However, L’Anse aux Meadows was a temporary location that the northerners abandoned after a few years. Since then, many have been looking for signs of other journeys done by the Vikings in North America, but without success.
But now, Sarah Parcak, a leading space archaeologist, has discovered evidence of a possible second location where the Vikings lived, which is located about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows.
The exact location is Point Rosee, a place that was found by Parcak after analyzing satellite imagery:
Usually, as an archaeologist, you can say that you’re lucky if you manage to write a footnote in the history books, but the discovery of Point Rosee could be the beginning of a new chapter.
The sagas suggest that the Vikings were active for a very short period of time and that their colonization attempt failed. L’Anse aux Meadows fits these descriptions but it is only one place. Point Rosee could reinforce the same idea or it might change it completely if the Vikings were there in a different period of time. Thus we may conclude that Northerners have spent more time in the New World.
It is quite difficult to figure out the places that the Vikings have visited, mainly because of the way they traveled. From the way the ships and sails were built, to the food they ate, almost everything that was on a Viking ship could be recycled or can decompose.
But thanks to satellite imagery, Parcak is convinced that the Vikings can be found. For example, in the case of Point Rosee, what stood out were the irregularities in the soil. If the satellite imagery can be used to find a location where the Northerners lived, then it is possible to find several such locations using the same method.
If Point Rosse turns out to be a place where the Vikings lived, then this can open a door to a new era of research and searches on the coast of Canada.