Scholar denies, in the face of strong evidence, that Norse “settled” in North America, but only because he doesn’t like the implications

June 30, 2021 • 12:30 pm

The evidence for the Norse having arrived in North America is less extensive than I thought. Some “settlements” with artifacts said to be from early Norse explorers have been shown to be misinterpreted, and most of the Norse “colonization” of North America involves settling in Greenland, which some people (like me) don’t consider part of North America.

Yet there is one indubitable bit of evidence—and it’s strong evidence—that the Norse founded a settlement on Newfoundland around 1000 AD. It’s the settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland, which surely counts as North America. Wikipedia gives a summary, including pictures of the remnants of the eight “sod longhouses” built by the Norse, and a reconstruction of what the settlement looked like. But this isn’t just a fantasy of Wikipedia editors. A Google Scholar search for “L’Anse aux Meadows” shows dozens of papers agreeing that this was indeed a Norse site. It was short-lived, to be sure, but certainly Norse.

Besides the remains of eight buildings, there were Norse artifacts:

Other things found at the site consisted of common everyday Norse items, including a stone oil lamp, a whetstone, a bronze fastening pin, a bone knitting needle and part of a spindle. Stone weights, which were found in building G, may have been part of a loom. The presence of the spindle and needle suggests that women as well as men inhabited the settlement.

Here are pictures of what was there and what remains (all captions from Wikipedia); this is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The remains of Norse buildings on display. The remains of seven Norse buildings were uncovered during the Ingstads’ excavation of the site.

 

Authentic Viking recreation, Newfoundland, Canada July 17 – 30, 2003

 

A model depicting the Norse settlement established at L’Anse aux Meadows.

This is clearly the earliest discovery of North America by Europeans that we know of, though of course Indigenous people populated the continent already, with their ancestors having crossed the Bering Strait about 15,000 when there was a land bridge. What we mean by “discover” is that the continent was discovered by people from other places.

But one scholar, a contrarian named Gordon Campbell,  just published this article in Time Magazine saying that the Norse settlement is bogus, and also that it’s a “problematic” myth. (Again, when you see the word “problematic,” run for the hills!). Click on the screenshot to read it. Campbell is described “as a Fellow in Renaissance Studies at the University of Leicester and a Fellow of the British Academy. His new book is Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth.” He seems to be a respectable scholar, but he’s an English scholar studying the Renaissance, not an archaeologist. His book has but three reviews (and 2.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon), with two reviews citing the Newfoundland settlement.

Click on the screenshot to read the misguided, ideologically-soaked piece:

I don’t have much to say beyond Campbell’s motivations, which are apparently to either rewrite or ignore history because the Norse settlement in Newfoundland is ideologically repugnant to him. (He doesn’t mention L’Anse aux Meadows.) Why the distortion? I’ll let Campbell speak for himself:

Why do unfounded claims about the Norse in America matter, beyond the simple desire to make history truthful? One of the glories of America is the ambition to realize Thomas Jefferson’s contention that all men are created equal. Yet even today, racial and ethnic equality remains unrealized, and racial entitlement remains a potent force.

Some who have touted the idea of the Norse discovery are benignly proud of their ancestry, and curious about exploring it. But such sentiments can become sinister, leading to claims of ethnic superiority. At the extreme, Nazi sympathizers in the U.S., whose numbers included Charles Lindbergh and some other members of the America First Committee, found a link to the Aryan supremacy claimed by Hitler’s followers.

The origins of such entitlement can be traced to the colonial period, when English migrants felt entitled to conquer and occupy someone else’s homeland, to disinherit and force to the margins of society the people that they displaced, and to go on to enslave the peoples of another continent. It was this sense of ethnic superiority that allowed a spurious historiography whereby America was discovered by Vikings.

Yes, he has to drag race into it, and disses Scandinavian pride in the “discovery” throughout his piece. And he claims, without any references, that some of those sentiments were “sinister”, with the sweating professor even connecting them to Aryan supremacy and Hitler!

Well, facts trump Campbell’s feelings, and no matter what sentiments the Norse “discovery” provoked, they settled in Newfoundland nevertheless. They didn’t leave any genetic heritage, for we find no trace of Norse genes in Native Americans, so the Norse either packed up and left or died out without issue.

But that doesn’t matter. What we see here is a reputable magazine that didn’t do its fact checking, to the extent that it publishes deliberate distortions in the service of an “antiracist” ideology. I guess we should be getting used to this, but this is a particularly blatant example of distorted journalism in the service of ideology. Hitler—really?

Here’s a nice video about the settlement:

h/t: Bill Boecklen

72 thoughts on “Scholar denies, in the face of strong evidence, that Norse “settled” in North America, but only because he doesn’t like the implications

  1. … on the island of Newfoundland, which surely counts as North America.

    Mebbe so. But I’ve heard enough Canadian snowbirds tell Newfie jokes to know that some of them claim it only grudgingly. 🙂

    1. No. Canadians like Newfies. It’s playful for us to make those jokes. Ask them how they feel about Toronto? That’s the hated of Canada! Even Toronto sometimes hates Toronto.

  2. Enquiring minds want to know, is it the case that no people from anywhere have ever discovered any part of the world (to avoid any “problematic” implications), or is it perhaps allowed for currently “disadvantaged” peoples to have made marvelous discoveries in the sufficiently distant past?

    1. There is a school of thought that has for many years claimed that all achievements of the cultures of the Antiquity were either disgusting and bogus or made by black people.

  3. People scoff knowingly at the idea of “objective History,” but even if we concede bias acknowledged and unacknowledged, I think we can all agree that this is not History, but politics. Indeed, I think this sort of writing is no better than the Nazi’s made-up History. If truth can be perverted, that doesn’t make lie better.

    1. When I took anthropology back in the 90s, the professors lamented a time where bias entered their profession and the idea of the “noble savage” was popular. Also, how people were shocked to discover that the joyful bull leaping in Crete was part of sacrifice and other taboo things in our culture. And yet, here we are.

      1. other taboo things in our culture.

        I was listening to a short, lightweight (if that’s possible) programme about Iphigenia at Aulis earlier today. If any literature is near the “root” of “Western culture”, that is.
        Tom Lehrer also came to mind recently, “I hold your heart in my hand, Dear … yeuchh!”

  4. I don’t get it. Why is it ‘problematic’ to think Norse might have settled? No one is claiming priority for this over the Indigenous inhabitants, as you say. It is about which Europeans got from Europe to North America first. Why would it be less problematic for Irish monks or Basque fishermen to have got there first, for instance?

    Or for that matter an Italian captain of a Spanish voyage – both nations that (now) have a fascist past, unlike the Scandinavian nations which don’t.

    If I were Danish/Norwegian I think I might find the idea that someone celebrating my long-dead countrymen’s achievements is in some way pro-Nazi to be…. well, problematic.

    1. Because those are white people and white people are racist conquerors plus it contradicts the Indigenous belief that they are the first people created by the creator. You can’t disagree because it’s racist.

      1. Except that these folks behaved exactly the way the Woke should want them to behave:
        1. They went on an exploration mission.
        2. They set up.
        3. They discovered the area was already inhabited.
        4. So they left (…or were killed).

        If not permanently settling or appropriating land/resources is the Woke goal, these folks achieved it.

  5. Having read the article, it seems to me that by “America”, the author means the bit of it that is now the continental USA. That’s the only context in which

    One of the glories of America is the ambition to realize Thomas Jefferson’s contention that all men are created equal.

    makes any sense.

    1. I think he’s still wrong though. Even if there were Norse settlements in what is now the USA, there’s clearly no continuity between them and modern European settlements but the white supremacists don’t need facts to peddle their myths.

      1. The Norse literature is also quite clear that these settlements failed. The Norse were chased or killed by the “skraelings”.
        During the Little Ice Age the same happened in Greenland, where they had been for several generations..

  6. What’s weird in these discussions is that, besides bashing white people (and believing that “problematic” is a better guide than evidence), the authors always seem to completely accept the framing of things as “white colonisers” vs. undifferentiated eternal “Indigenous” peoples living in harmony. In their haste to reverse who the goodies & baddies are in the story, all they can imagine doing is switching the labels.

    But “Indigenous” is just a catch-all for “non-European”, and sometimes we actually know quite a bit about the people in question, even if they didn’t write it down for us. In the case of Greenland & nearby mainland Canada, the most recent replacement was in medieval times, after the Norse. These were not the people whose “ancestors […] crossed the Bering Strait 15000…”; they were the people who drove those ones extinct (in the north), who had better technology for living in less hospitable climates, who arrived from Siberia sometime in the last 4000 years, and moved across from Alaska in the last 1000.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Greenland

    1. The Skraelings kicked a lot of Viking ass I think so the norse were hardly conquerors. And also the Inuit didn’t go south not because they loved the north but because they would be killed for it, often in Canada, by the Cree.

  7. Has anyone heard of the theory that Europeans reached North America tens of thousands of years ago? Apparently there’s a curious similarity between stone tools found in the middle Atlantic states and those of certain stone age sites in Europe.

    You might say, how could stone-age people cross the Atlantic? But they didn’t have to — as I understand it, the theory is that they could have made their way around the periphery of the ice shelf, living resources from the sea. The problem (again, as I understand it) is that the ancient coastline is now under hundreds of feet of sea water, so the definitive evidence one way or the other is beyond reach.

    I haven’t heard anything about this for years. Have there been any recent archaeological discoveries, or work in population genetics?

    If this is what happened, then the Europeans had the continent to themselves for thousands of years before they were, er, displaced by newcomers from Asia. Talk about “problematic”!

    1. I remember hearing about that as well. I don’t think anyone would risk their career on studying it anymore….maybe someone with tenure who is brave.

      1. After I replied earlier (see below), I learned that this idea of an ice-age transatlantic crossing has been around since the 1970’s and has gotten a great deal of scientific pushback for its paucity of evidence and more plausible alternative explanations, as reader een stated.

        Alas, you are right in your supposition, too, that there has been
        political pushback as well:

        Reports claimed that [the Solutrean hypothesis] had attracted the support of white supremacist groups …
        An episode of [a 2018 CBC] documentary … was widely criticized by scientists and Native Americans for its uncritical presentation of the Solutrean hypothesis.

        Ugh, what a sad state of affairs!

    2. I think that the reason we don’t hear about the idea any longer is because it’s been disproved. There have been huge advances with recent work in DNA sampling, and so far as I know all the earliest archaeological sites in North America show DNA that is consistent with current Amerindian, and most important, Siberian populations.

      That’s regardless of the physical appearance of the people. It’s pretty clear that human populations of 15,000 years or so ago (or at least the small number of samples we have now) just didn’t look like the populations of today, despite their clear ancestry. So the people found in the early sites don’t look like the typical populations nowadays, despite the clear DNA evidence.

      It does seem very likely that the original settlers moved along the coast – the “Kelp Highway” hypothesis, as well as through the interior once the ice sheets melted sufficiently. That’s probably why some of the early archaeological sites in South America are of similar dates to those in North America. Travel could have been much faster along the coasts, with similar resources to exploit along the way.

      Unfortunately there are a lot of cranks around, who claim all sorts of nonsense about prehistoric settlement of various places. A lot of those claim early European or “Celtic” settlement for some reason. There are even people who claim that NZ was settled by the Celts prior to Maori.
      Huh. Just a bit of common sense suggests that it’s an awful long way to go, and you’d need some very capable navigators and vessels. Which the Polynesians had.

      But these evidence free claims are a very long way from the good evidence of the Norse being in Newfoundland, for however long.

    3. There was a 2012 book by
      Dennis J. Stanford and
      Bruce A. Bradley:
      Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture..
      A Smithsonian book review gives a nice writeup, saying:

      It now appears that people entering the New World arrived from more than one direction.

      Groundbreaking discoveries from the east coast of North America are demonstrating that people who are believed to be Clovis ancestors arrived in this area no later than 18,450 years ago and possibly as early as 23,000 years ago, probably in boats from Europe.
      … the authors trace the origins of Clovis culture from the Solutrean people, who occupied northern Spain and France more than 20,000 years ago. … Bradley and Stanford do not suggest that the people from Europe were the only ancestors of modern Native Americans.

      I heard about this hypothesis a few years ago but didn’t follow it, so I don’t know if it still stands. I do think it is plausible, not least because it wouldn’t be the first time that there’s no single answer to a migration. Recall the historical development of our understanding of human origins as “Out of Africa, again, and again, and again.” (Svante Pääbo, I think.)

    4. Ancient DNA has made the Solutrean Hypothesis extremely likely. Before ancient DNA, DNA comparisons between Europeans and Amerindians did lend credence to the possibility. Amerindians and modern Europeans were more closely related to each other than expected if Amerindians had a purely East Asian origin.

      Since then a couple discoveries from ancient DNA have explained the genetic link and also shown that the inhabitants of Europe tens of thousands years ago contributed very little to the modern European gene pool.

      The 24,000 year old Mal’ta boy skeleton had its DNA sequenced and provided a snapshot into a population named ANE (Ancient North Eurasian). The first wave of Amerindians to arrive from Siberia were roughly 40% ANE and 60% East Asian.

      The modern European gene pool is roughly 25% ANE, but ancient DNA shows that this ANE component didn’t arrive in Europe until around 4500 years ago. The Solutreans were in Europe 21,000 to 17,000 years ago. This shared genetic link between modern Europeans and Amerindians came from Siberia, not from an Atlantic crossing.

    1. Those settlements, even the Greenland ones, were far from the homeland on which they relied for eg. iron. They also felt too superior to the Inuit to adapt to the cold lifestyle of the latter and clung to their agricultural habits, which were not sustainable during the Litle Ice Age.

  8. “One of the glories of America is the ambition to realize Thomas Jefferson’s contention that all men are created equal.”

    This is a sly mutation of the Foundation Principle. Jefferson did not say that equality was “something to eventually realize,” or that any difference in wealth between person A and person B was a crime due to “inequality.”

    The statement is unequivocal: [paraphrase to differentiate from the generic use of “man.”]

    All human beings are born equal.

    That metaphysically given fact is billions of times more important than any attempt to elevate egalitarianism by law.

    1. Well spotted. I wonder if this is a deliberate mis-statement to mislead. Or whether it’s a mis-reading, newspeak having removed the possibility that “equality” might have other meanings from his mind.

      “Hold these truths to be self-evident” is a pretty clear explanation that what follows isn’t a statement about how nice things will be one day, when we finally get the perfect tax code & the ideal affirmative action thresholds.

      1. “The tax code” is a violation of the Foundation Principle (individual rights, including property rights). Affirmative action, when practiced voluntarily by a private institution is not … but if conducted by force of government, is.

        “Born equal” must not be trampled for any reason, including a goal of equity of results.

      2. It is a deliberate evasion. The wish to not even hint at the idea that “born equal” is a metaphysical statement of fact, absolutely true even when used to found a new nation containing two massive contradictions to it: 1) enslavement by race; and 2) disenfranchisement of women.

    2. Jefferson spoke those beautiful words but he owned slaves. He didn’t act on his own rhetoric. Every time I hear those words, I can’t help but get angry that he did not act on them, even in his private non-political affairs.

      1. @Lou Jost — your anger acknowledged.

        Still, the principle remains perfect and absolutely true — and yes, beautiful. Not only did Jefferson and other Founders find themselves in violation of it because of slavery, the entire new nation, having inherited legally-enforced servitude from Europeans, required many decades to dissolve the contradiction.

        In my opinion, the statement of the perfect fact of ‘born equal’ and the founding of a nation upon it was crucial. It’s mighty declaration made the contradiction(s) glaringly obvious, and the nation would surely have been a failure if it did not resolve them.

  9. Perhaps this is a stalking horse for an anticipated needed cancelation: When Elon Musk lands on and creates a civilization on one of the moons of Jupiter, his claim of ownership-from-first-‘discovery’ will need to be obliterated.

    It will need to be instantly denied as having happened, just because he is [fill in the blank of one of several privileges Elon is easily guilty of being. From birth.]

  10. “The Problematic” sounds like a great name for some fictional early form of calculator or “computer”, perhaps run secretly by a confederate, like the famous chess machine that apparently beat Napoleon.

            1. Drop the bird?
              You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike?
              You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all different?
              “Plugh”?
              Is it coming back to you yet? The endless trips down the Colossal Cave, in search of action, adventure and really wild things (includes bears and dragons, your mileage may vary, flameproof underwear not provided)?
              It is what inspired the people who wrote Zork.

              Watch out, the Wizard is watching!

              1. It’s certainly available for Linuxen (I have it here, and am trying to remember how to get out of the mazes without using a cheat-sheet), so I would expect it to be available on every other platform this side of the Difference Engine (… now there’s an idea!). Try the HCF version online at https://www.amc.com/shows/halt-and-catch-fire/exclusives/colossal-cave-adventure if you can get it to work – it’s totally FOOF to me – and I do mean fluorine peroxide.

              2. The web version wouldn’t work for me. But I keep my web security pretty tight (I had to punch about 3 holes in the firewalls to allow the editor to work, and it still has quirks.)

              3. I was just browsing the “History of Colossal Cave Adventure” page at http://rickadams.org/adventure and came across this relic of a more innocent time :
                ” [Woods ] contacted Crowther by the simple expedient of sending email to “crowther@sitename,” where sitename was every computer then on the Internet,”
                Try that today and you’d need something a bit chunkier than a PDP-10.
                Next thing we’ll be reminiscing about fingering the gopher instead of Veronica. Or was it a harmonica you fingered?

  11. Many years ago, I read a book on this subject that cited many Norse sagas. The multiplicity and detail of the stories convinced me that the Vikings had ventured beyond Greenland and had landed on the North American continent..

    One feature, as I recall, was that the Vikings were bested by the locals because the Vikings preferred hand combat and were bested by arrows and spears. One humorous account involved a pregnant woman (sister of Erik the Red or of Leif Erricson?) who was leading a hunting party when they came face to face with an Indian party. Spears and arrows convinced the Vikings to run. The pregnant woman could not keep up, so she turned and bared her breast to the Indians to show that she was a woman and should not be killed. The Indians advanced anyway, so she drew her sword and fought them off. She then caught up with her men and beat them with the flat of her sword for being so cowardly and for abandoning her.

    I no longer have the book and it was so many years ago that I cannot recall its title. My point remains that the richness of the sagas suggests they should be considered as evidence for an early Viking presence in North America..

    1. I’ve not heard that story before, and I’ve worked under enough formidable Nogesses that I’d expect to have heard it if it were well-known in the Northlands.

    2. The pugnacious lady was Freydis Eiriksdottir, daughter of Eirik the Red, and she appears in one of the Vinland sagas. Her story can be found in Penguin Book’s The Sagas of the Icelanders, among other places. Highly recommended!

  12. The book is a product of what I can only call ‘Publication Desperation’ — the crying need to rise to the tenure-track job, that only some resemblance of originality will satisfy. I’d call this one a Hard Fail on that.

  13. They didn’t leave any genetic heritage, for we find no trace of Norse genes in Native Americans, so the Norse either packed up and left or died out without issue.

    There are loads of native archaeological sites all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, so it’s a bit of a mystery why we wouldn’t see some mixing – not even a trade of artifacts?? But I don’t know anything about the site, so maybe there was.

    I agree with PCC and the other posters, the rejection of this fact for ideological purposes seems both unwise and unjustified even in it’s own context. Nobody is saying the viking settlers were superior because they were white or because they traveled to the Americas (instead of vice versa). Yes, the feat of navigation was certainly spectacular, but the fact that the settlement didn’t last long is a pretty clear indication that they either couldn’t or didn’t want to inhabit a land that the natives had successfully lived on for thousands of years.

    1. There are loads of native archaeological sites all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, so it’s a bit of a mystery why we wouldn’t see some mixing – not even a trade of artifacts?

      Corollary : there should be a lot of AMH-Neanderthal and AMH-Denisovan (and Neanderthal-Denisovan and Denisovan-Harbin and Harbin-AMH) interaction sites and material culture, given the pretty clear several percent of Neanderthal and (somewhat less) Denisovan DNA in the genomes of current members of the Hominid radiation.
      Of course, whether or not we recognise such habitation sites (as opposed to burial sites) … is a much thornier question.

  14. Having read Jared Diamonds “Collapse”, I think the Norse settlers both in Greenland and Newfoundland are a not really an example white supremacists would want to celebrate (if they truly do so).

    If Diamond is right, they perished, among a number of other things (climate change, cultural changes in mainland Europe..), because they tended to kill everyone they met. Both Inuit – who arrived in Greenland after them – and their forerunners. Had they established trading ties, had they learnt from the better adapted Inuit, they might have survived at least in Greenland.

    All over the world people have again and again been displaced, enslaved or killed by other people – irrespective of their ethnicity. Seeing the “other” as barbaric, culturally inferior or less human, again irrespective of ethnicity, was quite widespread. We may find this abhorrent today, a few people already did so in times past, but it was normal.

    “White” colonialism and imperialism was only the last installment of that seemingly never ending tragedy. I do not mean to exculpate Europeans or to excuse what they did. But they did not do so because “Whites” are evil or because their culture is especially harmful. They did so because they had the means.

    But as a culture Europeans also developed in a direction that seemed to contradict their own exploits. They developed the very ideas that make us, today, sick of thinking about all the lives lost and cultures destroyed. They were defeated, partly, because the people they discriminated against and exploited started to take them by their own words and to strive for democracy, human rights and equality. I am not saying other cultures had not developed similar ideas, I am saying that the Europeans had the means to spread their own. And they did so.

    We will not prevent yet another genocide, other forced mass migrations or “ethnic cleansings” by dividing the world into bad guys and good guys. Whatever people have done to other people they did not do because of their skin colour, or their ethnicity, or their nationality. They did it because they were and are humans acting as humans. But as humans, we also have the possibility to overcome or at least control these horrors. If we face up to their true reasons.

    1. The ferocity of intergroup violence amongst the various indigenous groups in pre-Eurocontact North America is well documented. And let’s not even think about the endless cycles of brutal conquest that culminated in the Inca and Aztec hegemonies in South and Central America well before the European invasions.

      Human beings have been beating the living crap out of each other since, in the Bard’s lovely words, summer first was leafy. The microcephalic-Manichaen world view of Woke vulgarians like this guy isn’t going to change that fact. Fingers crossed that Pinker is right and that the better angels of our nature are now in the driver’s seat. (I’d love to believe he’s right, but some days it’s really, really hard to.) What Campbell is giving us is just another version of the disgusting ‘noble savage’ stereotype introduced by the remarkably bigoted JJ Rousseau and regularly trotted out as needed by his intellectual descendants.

  15. It’s going to get worse for him if he realizes that the first settlers in North America were not ancestors of later “indigenous” Americans who were here when the Norse and later other Europeans came. I believe this was discussed on this site a month or two ago.

  16. I don’t get it. 1000 years ago, Scandinavians “discovered” Newfoundland and put a lot of effort into creating a settlement. It failed (as did the first English settlement in the New World). Evidence for this seems good, I say as someone who only reads the popular-level accounts. Interesting, but so what? How in the world could that support myths of European superiority? Or inferiority, for that matter? The logic escapes me.

  17. I am so happy that we have finally found a topic where I actually have some scholarly expertise. I read the Time article, and have to agree with others here that he is making a political argument, without addressing the body of physical evidence of early Norse contact with America.
    His hypothesis seems to mostly be that English Protestant colonists were were displeased with the idea of a Spanish Catholic expedition making first contact with the Americas, so they invented a history of Pagan Norse contact instead.
    Also, the fact that Columbus did not land in what became the US seems to bother him, although it has always been generally understood that he landed in “The Americas”, which he did.

    He has the nerve to invoke the dangers of “false history”, which is a fairly bold move on his part.

    My best guess is that his goal in releasing the book was as a revenue stream, and he seems to be using all the trendy woke catchphrases, and propagating the latest woke concepts. I have not yet really studied his writings to the point where I can accurately trace out his specific agenda.
    A cursory examination hints strongly that he conforms to a bothersome archetype. That would be the leftist evangelist historian, who teaches a distorted version of events, which if believed, lead the student to the inevitable conclusion that his personal views are the right ones, born out by thousands of years of (manufactured) human experience.
    When a careful study of human experience and history does not actually support the righteousness of your political agenda, a sensible person revises their politics. The sort of person that instead concludes that all of history must be changed astonishes me.

    The only thing that matters when evaluating the likelihood of Norse precolumbian contact is physical evidence of such contact, which can be shown with high confidence to date to the period in question.
    Artifacts of types normally associated with the Norse were found in structures of typical Norse construction. The type of structures and artifacts conform to the time period confirmed through sediment analysis and other dating processes. Many of those artifacts were made of materials completely unknown to indigenous Americans, but used commonly by the Norse.
    All of this in undisturbed soil, with normal indigenous artifacts found in older and newer sediments.

  18. You’d think if the Norse made it to the Americas, that would be a cool fact of history with no moral implication attached to it, as no-one could trace their ancestry to it, nor could there be any claim of a continuation of culture, or any of those other bogus arguments people make about history to justify bloodshed, power, land rights, etc. Of all the actual negative things that exist as part of culture today concerning race, racism, and historical legacies that affect on racism today, this seems like a contrivance of something from nothing with no relevance to the actual problems that need fixing.

  19. Since there is little evidence of the Franklin expedition (coal-warmed, tin-opening paragons of Victorian ascendency) in the genomes of Nunavutians, then clearly the archaeological evidence – documentary, a sunken ship, several buried sailors, oral history – of the Franklin expedition doesn’t exist.

    I struggle to make the case with a straight face. (Coffee-splattered screen emoji)

  20. Time Magazine: a “reputable magazine”, Professor? It is for the humor I read WEIT. REPUTABLE?
    It is a overly commercial dumbed down ad filled joke of a celebrity rag they can’t give away.
    Now 30 years ago, yes, 40+ definitely. Today? Nup.

    1. I haven’t read Time Magazine for over 30 years so I’m going by my memories then. It’s not necessary, however, for you to mock me without asking first what I know about the rag.

  21. The formula is becoming apparent to me – find some large, well-known piece of knowledge, and simply plug in appropriate words around it, using the color of skin and where the genes came from as the guide.

    I hazard a guess that a good reading of Orwell’s essays is necessary in that his guidelines should be ignored deliberately.

  22. “…Greenland, which some people (like me) don’t consider part of North America…”

    I’m curious why you don’t.

    Geologically it seems like a slam-dunk–the North American Plate includes all of Greenland. There is no DEEP ocean between Greenland and Labrador/Baffin/Ellesmere.

    Biologically it would be surprising if anything at all was in favour of Greenland differing much from North America.

    Politically it’s true that Greenland, not being part of Denmark, has its foreign affairs somewhat under their control, like the Faroes, and like Iceland was before 1945, but that is fast disappearing.

    I’d say it’s just as much part of North America as Madagascar is part of Africa.

    By the way, far across to the west (far enough to be considered the Far East) there is a sizeable chunk of the northeast corner of Siberia which is also on the North American Plate. But the continuous land mass of Eurasia makes it unreasonable for that to be considered part of North America. In any case, that’s why a land bridge appeared for the Siberians to be the first people of North or South America.

    However there’s nothing like that way back over on the Greenland side of the plate to get Greenland into Europe geographically..

    Actually, an amusing, very unlikely, physical possibility would have a North American indigenous laying eyes on European land before a European first laid eyes on any part, North or South, of America. All it would take was for a person in Greenland in 500 AD to climb to the top of a good mountain on the east coast of Greenland approximately due west of Iceland on one of those clear days when you can see that mountain from the top of Snaefjelljokull on the far west peninsula of Iceland. There were a few Dorset people there on Greenland (surely with no sane motivation to do the climb!), but no human on Iceland anywhere I’m sure, despite the bullshit about Irish monks getting there first.

    Actually that depends on Iceland being in Europe. No question it is culturally. But geophysically, it’s either both that and American, or neither, with the mid-Atlantic ridge going right through it, and creating it.

    1. Well, it was just an offhand remark. I was thinking of America as the continental entity and nearby islands, not as Greenland, which is farther away. But if what you says is that Greenland is part of the NA plate, and I don’t doubt you, then I’ll be happy to call Greenland part of NA. Still, when people are talking about Norse colonization of America, they’re generally not thinking of Greenland.

  23. Their dogged pursuit and the discovery of the L’anse aux Meadows site by the Ingstads in (IIRC) 1960 is somewhere between heroic, fantastic and comical. They almost literally knocked on a door at what seemed like the northernmost possible site and asked a question – were there any places nearby with land formations like this and that.

  24. Claims of Norse in Minnesota etc are unfounded – & ruined by the fake ‘runic’ inscription…

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