He squeezes his right hand into a fist, unfurls his fingers, and noticing that his pinky no longer straightens fully, wonders if he’s developing arthritis from his long days at the shipyard. Or maybe it’s from one too many right crosses, to one too many jaws, after one too many pints at the local. Unfazed he shuffles his 6’4” blonde-headed frame down the hallway for his four egg breakfast…
Upper West Side, New York City. Carolina awakes bright and shiny on a clear Friday morning in October. “The weather is PERFECT!” Padding her way to the kitchen, she muses over the field trip she’s taking her class of fifth-graders on today. After a visit to the indigenous peoples exhibits at the Museum of Natural History, they will take an educational stroll through Central Park ending at Columbus Circle to gaze up at the 80ft monument commemorating the great Italian who discovered America. What better way to send them off for the Columbus Day weekend! Brewing her morning cappuccino, Carolina cheerfully sings “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”
Though Christopher Columbus has long been celebrated as the “discoverer” of the New World, it has been widely recognized that he was not the first human to inhabit the Americas. There were, of course, the indigenous tribes native to the areas.
And in 1960, the 1,000-year-old remains of a Norse way station were unearthed at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. Viking remains are notoriously elusive in their archaeological evidence, however, it has been mostly confirmed that L’Anse aux Meadows only indicated a short stay for the Norse people. There has been no evidence found of a permanent Viking settlement in North America. Until now…maybe?
During the summer of 2015, Sarah Parcak, space archaeologist employing satellite imagery to uncover organic anomalies, conducted a test excavation at a second discovery site in Newfoundland. This time at Point Rosée, 676 kms southwest of L’Anse aux Meadows which (quick lesson in geography and math) is 676 kms down the Gulf of St Lawrence, or in other words, 676 kms closer to mainland North America.
If the Vikings only stayed a short time in one of the farthest northeast corners of the Americas’ eastern-most landmass, what would be the motive to head further west unless to discover a habitable landscape in which to lay down roots? Based on our knowledge of the Viking lifestyle and requirements to thrive, Point Rosée provided an ideal area for a settlement. It came equipped with ample wood, protection and visibility, as well as iron bogs in which to source one of their most imperative-to-existence materials. Iron literally held Viking life together. A Viking life without iron to smelt was akin to a modern-day mom’s life without coffee to drink!
Much more evidence is required at Point Rosée, including the process of dating the archaeological findings, before anything can be concluded about this or any other potential Viking sites. If the site at Point Rosée uncovers a significant diversion in date from L’Anse aux Meadows (ie later), or suggests further permanence in the “settlement”, the research could lead to evidence of permanent European inhabitants in the New World, well before 1492, and its Italian ship that sailed ocean blue.
Should things come to this? Christopher Columbus, consider it “thunder stolen” by the guys with the ruddy beards. Maybe they just weren’t all showy about it…