However, the exact moment when The Vikings traveled to raise the settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows was not clear – until now.
Scientists said Wednesday that a new type of dating technology, using an ancient solar storm as a reference point, revealed that the settlement was occupied in 1021 AD, exactly 1,000 years before and 471 years before the first voyage of Kowloon. This technique was used on three pieces of wood cut for the settlement, all referring to the same year.
The journey of the Vikings represents many milestones for humanity. The settlement provides the oldest known evidence of a transatlantic crossing. It also marks the place where humans finally traversed the entire circumference of the world, thousands of years after entering North America via a land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska.
“We must commend these northern Europeans for being the first human community to cross the Atlantic,” said geologist Michael Dee of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who led the study published in the journal Nature.
The Vikings, or people of the North, were sailors from the Scandinavian regions, now Norway, Sweden and Denmark. They ventured into Europe, sometimes colonizing and sometimes trading or plundering. They possessed extraordinary skills in shipbuilding and navigation and established settlements in Iceland and Greenland.
“I think it is fair to describe the trip as an expedition and a search for new sources of raw materials,” De said. “Many archaeologists believe that the main motivation for research in these new areas was the discovery of new sources of wood, in particular. In general, it is believed that they started from Greenland, where wood is rarely suitable for construction.”
The Viking Age is conventionally defined as 793-1066 AD, and it gives a wide range of transit time across the Atlantic.
Ordinary radiocarbon dating, which determines the age of organic materials by measuring their content of a particular radioactive isotope of carbon, has turned out to be very inaccurate as yet L’Anse aux Meadows, discovered in 1960, although there is a general belief that it was eleventh century.
The new dating method is based on the fact that solar storms produce a distinct signal of radiocarbon in the tree’s annual growth rings. It is known that a great solar storm, the explosion of high-energy cosmic rays from the sun, occurred in AD 992.
University of Groningen archaeologist Margot Kuitems, first author of the book: A Study, said.
De said it was not yet clear how long the settlement was occupied, although it could have been for a decade or less, with perhaps 100 Nordic people at any one time. Their structures are similar to those of the North in Greenland and Iceland.
By Will Dunham, Reuters