Today, everyone knows that Vikings found American centuries before Columbus. People would say you’re nuts if you denied it. However, in the 1950’s, academia generally thought Leif Ericson and Vinland were Norse legends, at best part of Greenland, and no one cared to investigate.
Eventually, Vinland was proven, but not by Oxford, Princeton, or Harvard or even Yale. Instead a Norwegian couple, Helge and Anne Ingstad organized and carried out the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. One wonders whether Ericson would still be “just a myth” had these two individuals not decided to prove he was real.
Does it surprise you considering that, the century before, academia rejected Homer’s Troy and Mycenae as legend, only to have rogue archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann prove them both real?
Wolter explores two additional questions: Did others follow in the Viking’s footsteps before Columbus did? Did any Europeans precede Ericson?
I think the answers to both questions is, yes, certainly on a limited scale.
One major objection to pre-Viking discovery of America is the lack of seaworthy ships. In pre-Viking Europe, ships were more hide-covered boats, or low-hulled, rowed galleys, neither seaworthy enough to cross the Atlantic. But the Viking boats were low-hulled galleys and they made it, and galleys had been operating in the Mediterranean for over a thousand years. Would it be impossible for even one to have crossed the Atlantic during that time?
Thor Heyerdahl, another famous Norwegian and probably a thorn in the hide of academia, spent his life demonstrating that humans could migrate from continent to continent in the most basic watercrafts: a balsa wood raft in the case of the successful Kon Tiki Expedition, and an Egyptian reed boat, in the case of the almost successful Ra Expedition.
Lack of compasses and other navigational devices is another reason why it is said Europeans could not have come here. Yet we know, South Sea Islanders weaved all over the South Pacific in low-hulled rowed war galleys, and in huts floated on top of catamarans, all without compasses, using the heavenly bodies as guides. So it is possible, to cross great expanses of water without these tools.
We may never prove that the Minoans island hopped the North Atlantic and then sailed inland to the copper deposits in Michigan, but I would not be surprised if someday we find pre-Columbian, maybe even pre-Viking, Basque fishing camps along the east coast of North America.
None of this claims a successful settlement. Even the Vikings, as ferocious as they were, could not sustain a settlement because of harassment from the Native Americans. If any Europeans had made a substantial colony here then we expect to find their artifacts, not just inscriptions, but knives, cups, and plates, like were found at L’Anse aux Meadows.
Some said we have those artifacts now. They being an enduring and widespread signature in stone, the Clovis Point, first found at Clovis, New Mexico, but later found in greater concentrations on the East Coast. In France, it has a technological cousin, the Solutrean tools, which display similar construction techniques. These techniques are found nowhere else. So we may have the Stone Age forks and platters of a European migration to America.
With luck, science may soon outstrip academic theory, that science is genetics. My understanding is that genetic material from the living and dead will not only tell what human groups a human, or human remains, belongs to, but it can tell approximately when certain markers came into the person’s heritage.
I expect some day there will be a wide spread gathering of DNA from every group of people, maybe, even from every family, living and as well as ancestors. I wouldn’t be surprised if pre-Columbian intermarriage between Vikings and Native Americans shows up in some modern Scandinavians.
Scott Wolter, skims the surface of conjectures that are brought to him. He goes deeper than I’ve gone; he goes out and takes basic data. Most of the time he doesn’t prove anything, but he does open the door on possibilities. While I watch from my living room, I can decide whether some of the things he investigates are bogus. Others seem possible. The main thing is its entertaining and I’m glad someone else is driving all over the country and boiling these claims down to one hour presentations. I have to thank Scott and History for entertaining me and sparing me the hotel and gasoline bills.
Anyway, Scott can you do something on the Lost Dutchman Mine, of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, and also the lesser known Lost Padres Mine, supposedly in the Franklins, north of El Paso?