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Scientists: Columbus was not the first European to visit America

AD 1021 is the earliest date on which a European presence in America can be scientifically proven, according to new research. Who has been there before Christopher Columbus, said the publication Independent.

Photo: Shutterstock

Explorer Christopher Columbus has long been considered the first European to reach America in 1492. But historians are convinced that the northern peoples reached the mainland almost 500 years earlier.

Leif Erikson, an Icelandic explorer and the second of three sons of Erik the Red, is considered the first ever visitor to North America.

An analysis by a group of international researchers states that the exact date is 1021.

The tree cuts at L'Anse aux Meadows - a site in Newfoundland, Canada that was associated with Erickson - date back to AD 1021, researchers say.

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The study says that all three wood fragments studied from three different trees came from contexts archaeologically associated with the Vikings.

Every piece of wood bore "clear evidence" of logging and cutting with metal blades - tools that were not used by the indigenous population.

The exact year could be determined because in 992 AD there was a powerful solar storm that left a distinct radiocarbon footprint in the tree rings.

Research Director Associate Professor Michael Dee of the University of Groningen in Holland said: "The distinct rise in radiocarbon production that occurred between 992 and 993 AD was found in tree ring archives from around the world."

He said that each of the three wooden objects displays 29 growth rings in front of the edge of the bark.

The study's first author, Dr. Margo Quitems, also from the University of Groningen, said: "The detection of a signal from a solar storm of 29 tree rings in the crust allowed us to conclude that the cutting was in 1021 AD."

Researchers say the number of Viking expeditions to America and the length of their stay over the Atlantic remain unknown.

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Currently available evidence suggests that all endeavors were “somewhat short-lived,” and the cultural and environmental legacy of the first European visit to America was likely short-lived.

However, botanical data from L'Anse aux Meadows confirmed that the Vikings did indeed explore the lands south of Newfoundland.

Dr. Quitems is convinced: “AD 1021 is the earliest year when a European presence in America can be scientifically proven. Previous dates for the presence of Vikings in America were largely based on the Icelandic sagas. However, they started out as oral histories and were only written down centuries after the events they describe. Although the sagas are controversial and at times fantastical, they suggest that there were both violent clashes and friendly relations between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the region. "

“However, little archaeological evidence has been found to support such conjectures. There are other medieval accounts that imply that prominent figures in mainland Europe were informed that the Vikings landed on land across the Atlantic, ”she added.

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