A new discovery, thanks to the insanely cool area of study, space archaeology, has challenged our notions of Viking history in North America. The Vikings were thought to have pillaged and conquered areas throughout Europe and even the Mediterranean and North Africa.But they were not thought to have made significant settlements in North America. Until now.
Sarah Parcak is a space archaeologist ”” I'll say that one more time in case you were blinded by its awesomeness ”” a SPACE ARCHAEOLOGIST. She used infrared satellite images to locate possible sites of past human activity along the coast of Canada.
Here is one of Parcak's images. The darker areas indicated potential man-made structures in an area 400 miles south of the only other known American Viking site in Canada. This sort of discovery is monumental ”” it could mean that Vikings were the first Europeans to set foot on North American continent instead of Christopher Columbus.
The L'Anse aux Meadows site in northern Newfoundland was discovered by researchers in 1960, but it was thought to be an isolated incident. Scientists found evidence of Viking activity but weren't sure if they had actually settled in the region.
The newly discovered site is Point Rosee, and thanks to Sarah Parcak and her team, it could mean huge things for our view of Viking history.
It's been difficult to trace the history of the Vikings because many of their boats, buildings and other objects were made from organic material that left little physical trace of its existence. But buildings and human activity can leave chemical changes in the soil, and this is what Parcak's space archaeology camera captured. In case you haven't noticed, I'm trying to say "space archaeology" as much as possible.
But the evidence was there! The team of excavators found blackened stones and piles of charcoal, indicating a hearth, and inside it, they found cooked bog iron. According to IFL Science, "this is indicative of smelting, a technique that no other contemporary culture in that region was doing at the time it dates to, roughly a millennium ago."
There hasn't been much else found at the site, but believe it or not, that's actually a good sign. As previously mentioned, most Viking structures were made of organic material. If scientists had found many little artifacts at Point Rosee, that would mean it probably wasn't a Viking site.
This discovery is potentially a huge deal for not only what we know to be the history of the Vikings, but it could also revolutionize how we search for lost civilizations. Two words, people: space archaeology.