Axe of Iron series

stacks_image_507 stacks_image_443 Assimilation

Man Receives 100,000 Euros for Treasure Trove

Viking artifacts continue to surface in Estonia. This coin trove, first reported in January 2011, is the most monetarily valuable so far.

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ERR News
Published: 28.01.2011 10:34

                                         Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

A man who found a large hoard of Viking-era silver in Harju County last summer has received 100,000 euros from the state as a finder's reward.

The treasure was dated to around 1060 and consisted of 1,329 coins and nine pieces of silver appraised at about 200,000 euros, Eesti Ekspress reported.

The finder had been conducting investigations in the field with the consent of the land owner. Other items included an axe, also from before the 13th century, and several daggers and several hundred other silver coins.

Most of the coins were forged in areas controlled by Germany, but there were also coins from Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Arabia and Hungary; and one Italian and two Bohemian coins.
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The Trial of Eirik the Red

I wrote this skit last year for a Viking reenactment group in Colorado. It has never been published, but I thought to do so now for readers who might have an interest in what may have occurred on Iceland in the 10th century that led to the banishment of Eirik Thorvaldsson--Eirik the Red.
His subsequent voyages into the western ocean from Iceland in 985-986, looking for a new home, led to the discovery and colonization of Greenland by the Norse people. As you know, he already knew of Greenland's existence, from a previous explorer by the name of Gunnbjorn Ulfsson who found the Earth's largest island about 100-years before, but I digress.
The NARRATOR sets the stage and the LAW SPEAKER is the supreme and final authority of the Althing, an assembly of Viking chieftains.

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Southern Iceland
Spring 985 AD



NARRATOR: (calm, strong voice throughout) I will tell you a Viking tale of murder, revenge, and adventure that began on Iceland in about 985. Later, the story moves to Greenland, and finally to Vinland, the land that would become North America.

During those times arguments between men frequently led to violence because the laws of the land were not clearly defined. Thirty-six jarls, or chieftains, ruled the four major districts of Iceland. When trouble came the district high chieftain called a thing, a lawsuit or assembly of freemen to decide the fate of a lawbreaker. Attended by minor chieftains acting as a council, the high chieftain assumed the position of the law speaker--judge and jury--during the thing and his verdicts were final.

And so it was on Iceland with a man called Eirik Thorvaldsson, who later became known as Eirik the Red. A vile tempered man, Eirik stood accused of killing two men in a fit of rage. One, Filth-Eyjolf, a kinsman of the owner of a neighboring farm, killed two of Eirik’s slaves for causing a rock slide that destroyed a sheep shed. A kinsman of Filth-Eyjolf, Hrafen the Dueler, sought revenge for the killing and Eirik killed him, too.

In a separate matter that led to killings, Eirik loaned a set of his bed boards to a neighbor, Thorgest. Eirik later asked for the return of his boards and Thorgest refused. Fighting resulted from this theft. There were two main factions, those men supporting Eirik the Red and those men supporting Thorgest. The fighting turned into a blood feud, spreading over the district, finally reaching the point of open warfare when Eirik and his men killed two of Thorgest’s sons and several of his followers.

As the feud spread, the district chieftain intervened and called for a thing at Thorsnes, in the south of Iceland, to settle the matter. The word went out over the district that the fighting was to stop and all landowning freemen were expected to attend.

The Trial of Eirik the Red

NARRATOR: The people gathered in the amphitheater of the Thorsnes Thing, among the rocks and grasses along the base of a sheer granite cliff overlooking the sea. A grass-covered knoll dominated one end and scattered birch trees dotted the landscape. A splash of color from the woolen clothing of the people gathered around the base of the knoll brightened the earth tones of the scenery and lent a festive air as the people stood in groups or milled around the wood fires to stay warm. The buzz of many conversations filled the air.

A chill onshore wind, moist with spray from the breakers that crashed onto the rocky shoreline, ruffled the tall grass and the leaves of the birch trees. Low grey clouds obscured the sky and the summit of the volcano Hekla, in the near distance. The law speaker and his council of minor chieftains sat atop the knoll. His eyes played over his charges as the last of the latecomers joined friends and kinsmen.

Prominently arrayed nearby, Eirik the Red, his wife, three sons, daughter, kinsmen, and friends, stood apart from the others. The immediate family had not been involved in the feud, but was present in a support role. Eirik presented a commanding figure, hands fisted on his hips; his red beard blew in the wind as he glared belligerently at his enemies standing nearby.

The law speaker got to his feet. Silence fell over the people as all waited for their high chieftain to speak. He beckoned those having business at the thing to draw near.

Eirik, the accused, and Geirstein and Odd of Jorvi, the first of the accusers, stepped forward.

The law speaker looked at Eirik for a moment before he turned his attention to the other two men.

LAW SPEAKER: (firm voice) “Tell me your part in this matter.”

ACCUSERS: (angry, loud voices) “Eirik killed our kinsmen, Filth-Eyjolf and Hrafen the Dueler at Leikskalar,” Odd said.

“We demand to settle our differences by the einvigi, a duel to the death, each of us in turn.” Geirstein said.

NARRATOR: Eirik made to bluster at them until stopped by the raised hand of the law speaker. The law speaker glanced at the crowd and then fastened his attention on the two accusers.

LAW SPEAKER: (forceful) “There will be no einvigi. A duel to the death will not solve this matter. Now, who witnessed these killings?”

WITNESSES: (shouted from the crowd) “I saw Eirik kill Eyjolf,” a man said. “Aye, I saw him kill Eyjolf without warning and then he had a fight with Hrafen the Dueler and killed him, too,” another man added.

NARRATOR: The law speaker motioned them forward.

LAW SPEAKER: (calm, questioning tone) “Why did Eirik kill, Eyjolf? Tell me what happened to make him kill him.”

WITNESSES: (angry, voice raised) “Eirik’s two thralls caused a rock slide that smashed a sheep shed. Eyjolf got mad and killed both of them. When Eirik heard about it he flew into a rage. He and Eyjolf argued and Eirik killed him.”

NARRATOR: Over the next hour or so, the law speaker also heard from Thorgest and two of his witnesses on the other matter before the thing. Thorgest admitted his part in starting the feud by stealing Eirik’s bed boards. But, he would never forgive Eirik for killing his sons and kinsmen. His anger boiled over, forcing the law speaker to silence him. It seemed the problems were without solution. A pattern of violence was emerging that all pointed in one direction. Things were not going well for Eirik.

LAW SPEAKER: (questioning tone) “Are there other witnesses for the accusers?”

NARRATOR: The law speaker looked out over the silent assembly. When nobody answered his eyes came to rest on Eirik.

LAW SPEAKER: (forceful) “What say you?”

EIRIK: (angry, voice raised) “Aye, I killed both of them, everybody knows that.” Eirik sweeps a hand out over the onlookers. “Eyjolf killed my thralls and I killed him for that. It is my right. He deprived me of my property. Hrafen the Dueler attacked me and I defended myself, killing him in the process. Thorgest is a common thief and I attacked him and his men for stealing from me. I make no apology for any of this. It is my business and mine alone.”

NARRATOR: Eirik glared at his accusers and their witnesses. The law speaker’s expression did not change during Eirik’s final outburst; he looked at him silently for a heartbeat.

LAW SPEAKER: (very forceful tone) “I will decide what is to be done, according to our laws and customs. You, Eirik Thorvaldsson will heed my words.”

NARRATOR: The law speaker’s commanding voice boomed out over the crowd. Eirik gritted his teeth, his famous temper barely held in check as he glared at the law speaker. Eirik heaved a great sigh, knowing full well that he could not afford to anger his chieftain.

LAW SPEAKER: (loud, for all to hear) “Who speaks for Eirik?”

NARRATOR: The law speaker’s eyes swept the crowd.

WITNESSES: (shouted from crowd) “We do!”

NARRATOR: Thorbjorn and a man called Styr stepped forward from the crowd. The law speaker beckoned for them to speak.

WITNESSES: (loud clear voices) “Eirik defended himself when attacked by Thorgest and his followers,” Thorbjorn said. “Aye, we fought with him,” Styr added.

LAW SPEAKER: (questioning tone) “Who started the argument that led to this fighting?”

NARRATOR: The law speaker’s eyes bored into the eyes of the two witnesses.

Both men seemed uncomfortable, each glancing at Eirik for support.

EIRIK: (angrily shouting) “I started the argument. Thorgest stole my property. I wanted him to return my bed boards. He refused.”

NARRATOR: The law speaker nodded thoughtfully, motioning for the two witnesses to continue.

EIRIK: (angry, loud, threatening) “Enough of this; I have not denied the killings. Make your decision.”

NARRATOR: Eirik waved his arms angrily, shouting at the law speaker and glaring defiantly at his accusers and their witnesses. Shouts and angry gestures of defiance swept through the crowd, with each faction loudly voicing their opinions. The order of the Thing fell apart, beginning a slide into chaos.

LAW SPEAKER: (loud, very forceful) “Hold! Quiet all of you!”

NARRATOR: The law speaker shouted above the din, both hands over his head in an attempt to restore order. Gradually the people became silent, their frustration and anger satisfied for the moment. Everybody was on their feet, naturally split into the feuding factions. The law speaker’s hold over his people was the only thing preventing bloodshed. He glanced at Eirik occasionally as he strode back and forth atop the mound, his mind grappling with what he knew he must do. Seeming to come to a decision, he stopped suddenly and gave his full attention to Eirik the Red.

LAW SPEAKER: (forceful) “Eirik Thorvaldsson, you stand accused of killings and outlawry.”

NARRATOR: Again, the deep voice of the law speaker boomed out over the crowd. A kind of animal growl rose from many of the people. The law speaker’s raised hand restored order after a moment. As all fell silent, waiting for the verdict and sentence to be passed down, Leif Eiriksson, the oldest of Eirik’s offspring stepped closer to his mother Thjodhild, and draped an arm over her shoulders protectively. Tears wet her cheeks.

LAW SPEAKER: (loud, forceful) “Eirik, I find you guilty of all charges. You are banished from all of Iceland for three years. No man will interfere while you settle your affairs. Be gone from this island before the new moon or you will be hunted down and killed.”

NARRATOR: Pandemonium ruled for a time, while the law speaker and his council departed the scene. Eventually, the people departed for their scattered farms. Eirik, his family, kinsmen, and followers departed for his farm at Eiriksstadir, for a strategy meeting. At this meeting, it was decided to explore and settle the unknown land sighted by Gunnbjorn Ulfsson as he was storm driven far off course to the northwest of Iceland. Thorvald, Thorstein, and Freydis, Eirik’s offspring, were to remain with their mother on Iceland to find people to join the expedition. Eirik, his son Leif, and a full crew of men, sailed from Iceland on the ebb tide the following morning. They found the ice covered island, later to be known as Greenland, spending the remainder of that first year exploring the rugged coastline and building shelters to stay the winter.

Settlement of Greenland

NARRATOR: (calm, strong voice throughout) The following year, during the summer of 986, Eirik, his son Leif Eiriksson, and other men of his crew, returned to Iceland for their families. Upon his return, Eirik found that his other two sons and daughter had gathered 500-people, 25-ships, and supplies for the first year of settlement. It is said that Eirik called the island Greenland to entice people to follow him there. That is not certain, nor is it known if he actually gave the island its name. Fourteen of the original complement of 25-ships made it to Greenland, the fate of the other 11-ships is unknown, but given the stormy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, they probably rest on the seabed somewhere between Iceland and Greenland.

Greenland is the largest island on Earth and the only portion of the island not covered with an ice sheet, is along the southwestern coast. During the first year, the people settled there on small farms around the head of a long fjord that came to be known as Eiriksfjord. Eirik and his family claimed the best land at the head of the fjord and he called his farm Brattahlid. In the beginning, green grass for livestock forage was abundant. There were even a few thin stands of stunted birch trees and willow bushes until all had been eaten to the ground by the settler’s livestock. Trade with Iceland and Norway commenced and life was good.

In later years, several people moved 400-miles north to another likely fjord that became known as Lysufjord. Eventually, as many as 4000-Viking settlers may have lived on Greenland for some 400-years and then, sometime between the 14th and 15th centuries, all disappeared, never to be seen again.

Sighting of North America

NARRATOR: During that first summer of the Greenland settlements, a seafarer and trader named Bjarni Herjulfsson arrived on Iceland, from Norway, to find that his father, Herjulf had sailed to Greenland with Eirik the Red and his followers. Bjarni immediately put back to sea and set sail for the island. A violent storm blew him far off course and he missed Greenland; however, he sighted unknown land further to the west—North America. Realizing his mistake, Bjarni reversed course and finally found Greenland, reuniting with his father.

Discovery of America

NARRATOR: Leif Eiriksson later became interested in Bjarni’s tale of unknown land to the west of Greenland, bought Bjarni’s ship, and with his original crew, sailed into the western ocean to have a look. On the voyage he landed on two shores, one he called Helluland (flat stone land) and the other he called Markland (forestland). Today we call them Baffin Island and Labrador respectively. Leif and his crew then sailed further south, finally landing on the northeastern tip of another island. We call this island Newfoundland. What Leif and his men called the island we may never know, but the saga writers two centuries later referred to it as Vinland

Leif built a settlement on Newfoundland, consisting of eight buildings, that he called Leifsbudir (Leif’s Booths). This settlement was used for several years for some unknown purpose.

In 1962, the Norwegian explorer, Helge Ingstad and his wife, Anne-Stine Ingstad, an archaeologist, found Leifsbudir and spent the next several years excavating the site. Although the sagas tell us that there are two other settlements in Vinland, Hop and Straumfjord, which have not been found, we have positive identification of Leifsbudir.

So, sometime between 997 and 1002--nobody is certain of the year--Leif Eiriksson, the eldest son of Eirik the Red, became the first man of European descent to land on the North American continent, almost 500-years before Christopher Columbus was born.

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J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com// ©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger
All Rights Reserved

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Abrupt climate change doomed Norse settlements: Study

Interest continues to develop for a sudden climatic change leading to the destruction of the two medieval Viking settlements on Greenland as the scientific community gears-up for another summer of archaeological work in the far north.

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MONTREAL GAZETTE


BY RANDY BOSWELL, POSTMEDIA NEWS JUNE 23, 2011

                                                                       Photograph by: File photo, Postmedia News

New scientific evidence supporting a long-standing theory that abrupt climate change probably doomed Greenland's Norse settlements about 650 years ago may also explain why most Canadians today are not speaking Danish and celebrating their Viking ancestry.

The study by a group of researchers from Denmark, Germany and Norway used samples of marine sediment from Greenland's west coast to reconstruct a picture of the giant island's climate over the past 1,500 years. Their findings showed that when Scandinavian settlers led by Eric the Red first established colonies on Greenland in 985, the west coast around present-day Disko Bay — located just 400 kilometres east of Baffin Island across the Davis Strait — was relatively warm and conducive to the farming life the settlers favoured.

It was during that early era of Norse settlement in Greenland that Viking explorers — most famously Eric's son, Leif Ericsson — are known to have become the first Europeans to reach the Americas.

L'Anse aux Meadows, at the northern tip of Newfoundland, was the site of a Norse settlement established around 1,000 but abandoned shortly after — primarily, scholars believe, because of attacks by hostile aboriginal tribes known as "skraelings" to Ericsson and his fellow adventurers.

The Norse continued to inhabit their Greenland settlements for at least 350 more years, with evidence documented from Baffin Island by Canadian archaeologist Pat Sutherland suggesting sporadic contact between Greenlandic Norse traders and the Dorset culture, ancient aboriginals who were later overrun — probably before 1400 — by the eastward-migrating Thule ancestors of modern Inuit.

But around that same time, the European researchers have concluded in a study published in the journal Boreas, a prolonged stretch of cold weather on Greenland appears to have led to the demise of the Norse settlements there. And any chance of a renewed effort by the Scandinavian seafarers to colonize Canada disappeared with them.

That left the next, and enduring, wave of European settlement in North America to French and English colonists after explorer John Cabot reached Newfoundland in 1497.

"Our study shows a major shift towards cooler conditions and extensive sea-ice which coincides with the estimated time for the collapse of the western settlement in AD 1350," University of Copenhagen geologist Sofia Ribeiro said in a summary of the new study.

"The Norse were proud of being Europeans, farmers and Christians, and never adopted the hunting and survival techniques of the Inuit, so these temperature shifts would have caused significant problems for the colonists and their livestock."

Ribeiro cautioned that "we cannot attribute the end of the Norse civilization to a single factor," but noted that "there is enough evidence to suggest that climate change played a major role in determining its collapse."

The harsher climate in Greenland would have made "farming and cattle production increasingly difficult" at the same time that increased sea ice "prevented navigation and trading with Europe," she stated.

Ribeiro told Postmedia News that "what happened to the Norse after 1350 is a mystery."

But she noted that in both Greenland and nearby Newfoundland, "there were no specially favourable conditions for the Norse to settle there during medieval times."

The Boreas study pointing to the onset of severe cooling in Greenland at the end of the Norse habitation supports recent research published by scientists at Brown University in Rhode Island in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After probing sediments from two lakes near Greenland's west coast, they also concluded that abrupt climate cooling preceded the disappearance of the Norse settlements in the region.

RBoswell@postmedia.com

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News
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More on What May Have Happened to the Greenland Vikings.

22 June 2011

In the past two months there have been several articles written indicating that the demise of the Greenland Vikings may have been weather related; specifically the worsening winter weather of Greenland with the advent of the Mini-ice Age beginning in about the 11th century. Some of the articles are posted on this Blog.

As you may know from reading the Axe of Iron posts, I have made mention of the fact that the Viking Age began with the warming weather of the Medieval Warm Period in the 8th century, ending during the Mini-ice Age in the 12th century. I also have long held that the disappearance of the entire Greenland Viking population was a gradual trend that began soon after the establishment of the two known settlements around the year 986. Some of the population remained to the end of the Eastern Settlement in the 15th century.

Here is what I wrote on the subject, excerpted from the Historical Perspective of Axe of Iron: The Settlers, the first novel of the Axe of Iron series of historical fiction novels:

“The two known Norse Greenland colonies prospered into the late fifteenth century. The population eventually swelled to as many as four thousand people at any given time, spread among farms in the areas around these settlements.

At some point late in the fourteenth or early in the fifteenth century, all settlement attempts and trading voyages to Greenland from Iceland and other points to the east were abandoned. Sometime in the middle of the fourteenth century (Western Settlement), and just after the turn of the fifteenth century (Eastern Settlement), the Greenland populations disappeared without a trace.

Perhaps most of the inhabitants of the Greenland settlements had already moved west having migrated to successful settlements already established by other Northmen with the native populations of North America over the ensuing years.

In any case, I maintain they eventually gave up the sea. Like thousands of their compatriots in Europe, they settled ashore. All impetus and desire for undertaking the perilous voyages became a thing of the distant past.

Around 1450, winters became colder in the far north, a lot colder. The ice in the harbors and fjords began remaining well into summer, and then it just remained. Greenland became uninhabitable for the Northmen. The Medieval Warm Period ended. A mini–ice age gripped the Arctic and northern portions of North America for the next four hundred years, into the last half of the nineteenth century.

During the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, a Catholic Prelate voyaged to Greenland, ostensibly to check on his flock. Although a few domestic animals grazed the hillsides, he found no people, living or dead. No ships, supplies, or tools remained. The people and their possessions had simply vanished into the mists of time.

The Icelandic bishop Gisli Oddsson, quoting church records, stated in the sixteenth or seventeenth century (the exact date is unknown) that the Norse Greenlanders joined the natives of America in 1342, giving up Christianity in the process. The record notes a firm date for the migration, not sometime in the fourteenth century.

We know three things for certain if one considers the disappearance of these people objectively: They did not sail to Iceland or Europe; they did not remain on Greenland until they died of hunger or exposure; they did not simply disappear. No, they had been migrating slowly to North America for five hundred years. Assimilation with the indigenous peoples became, over time, the Norse Greenlanders’ only option for survival. It is the only logical answer to the one-thousand-year-old mystery.

Since their assimilation, almost everything the Northmen left behind on this continent has turned to dust, become locked under the permafrost, or disappeared under many feet of debris in the forests and along the seashores of North America.

I have attempted to tell a tale of what might have happened, what could have happened, and considering the options available, what probably did happen to the Norse Greenlanders.

More than 40–generations have elapsed since they came to this continent. Now their very existence, everything they accomplished, has faded from the collective memory of all the peoples they contacted and lived among.

I prefer to believe the four thousand live on however, their genetic makeup diluted by the intervening centuries of time. They are still here, smiling back at us from the faces of the Inuit Greenlanders, Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois with whom they joined so long ago.”

Jones, 95, 111.

Jones, 95.
Thomas H. McGovern, The Demise of Norse Greenland (Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC 2000) 327.
Ingstad, 177–178.
Ingstad, 179–180.
History Channel, The Vikings Fury From The North (A&E Television Networks, New York, NY, 2000) VCR Tape.

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This new data seems to indicate that the winters on Greenland worsened and the summers became shorter and colder much sooner than originally thought, perhaps as early as the beginning of the 11th century. As a result the dates indicated in the Historical Perspective are off by at least 300-years.

The Greenland Vikings did not disappear, they left Greenland to survive. As a pastoral/littoral society, life in Greenland became untenable with the shorter and colder summers. The exodus began as a trickle in the late 10 and early 11 century’s and continued each year until every single one of those remaining on Greenland had migrated to North America as the fury of the Mini-Ice Age enveloped the far North.

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2011 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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Surprise Archeological Find from Iceland’s Settlement

Iceland Review

May 19, 2011

Archaeological remains that were found during an excavation in Urridakot in Gardabaer, a neighboring town of Reykjavik, were much older than archaeologists had assumed. They date back to the settlement of Iceland in the 9th century AD while Urridakot is first mentioned in written sources from the 16th century.



Excavation has been ongoing in Urridakot in the past years because of planned construction in the area. In 2006 the local authorities asked the Institute of Archaeology to fully complete the registration of archaeological remains within the town limits, Fréttabladid reports.

"The first test dig was made in Urridakot in 2007 and last year the excavation was to be completed at which point I decided to dig in the area between those that had been tested," said archaeologist Ragnheidur Traustadóttir.

"Nothing could be seen on the surface and there are no sources on anything in the area but then we discovered a magnificent cowshed from the Settlement Era," she described, adding that they also found a lodge, storage room, pantry and a cooking hole from the 9th to 11th century; further research is required to determine how old the remains are exactly.

Remains dating back to the Middle Ages, shortly after 1226, have also been found: a pantry, kitchen and outhouse. No living quarters from that time have been found yet but they may have been located above the excavation area.

Conditions for preservation are poor at Urridakot so biological remains haven't been found. Few but notable objects have been discovered such as two spindles, one of which is decorated and the other inscribed with runes, which is rare in Iceland.

Two pearls from the Viking Age have also been found, along with baking plates, a sharpener imported from Norway, knives made of iron, nails and various bronze sheets.

Traustadóttir said there are many indications that there was seasonal habitation at Urridakot but not permanent; no such dwelling, known as sel in Icelandic, has been thoroughly researched.

The remains found at Urridakot will be displayed in the future although probably not at that exact location. They might be exhibited in connection with Hofsstadir, the local archaeological center.
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Greenland Cold Snap Linked to Viking Disappearance

Mon May 30, 4:37 pm ET

OSLO (Reuters) – A cold snap in Greenland in the 12th century may help explain why Viking settlers vanished from the island, scientists said on Monday.

The report, reconstructing temperatures by examining lake sediment cores in west Greenland dating back 5,600 years, also indicated that earlier, pre-historic settlers also had to contend with vicious swings in climate on icy Greenland.

"Climate played (a) big role in Vikings' disappearance from Greenland," Brown University in the United States said in a statement of a finding that average temperatures plunged 4 degrees Celsius (7F) in 80 years from about 1100.

Such a shift is roughly the equivalent of the current average temperatures in Edinburgh, Scotland, tumbling to match those in Reykjavik, Iceland. It would be a huge setback to crop and livestock production.

"There is a definite cooling trend in the region right before the Norse disappear," said William D'Andrea of Brown University, the lead author of the study in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers have scant written or archaeological records to figure out why Viking settlers abandoned colonies on the western side of the island in the mid-1300s and the eastern side in the early 1400s.

Conflicts with indigenous Inuit, a search for better hunting grounds, economic stresses and natural swings in climate, perhaps caused by shifts in the sun's output or volcanic eruptions, could all be factors.

LITTLE ICE AGE

Scientists have previously suspected that a cooling toward a "Little Ice Age" from the 1400s gradually shortened growing seasons and added to sea ice that hampered sailing links with Iceland or the Nordic nations.

The study, by scientists in the United States and Britain, added the previously unknown 12th century temperature plunge as a possible trigger for the colonies' demise. Vikings arrived in Greenland in the 980s, during a warm period like the present.

"You have an interval when the summers are long and balmy and you build up the size of your farm, and then suddenly year after year, you go into this cooling trend, and the summers are getting shorter and colder and you can't make as much hay," D'Andrea said.

The study also traced even earlier swings in the climate to the rise and fall of pre-historic peoples on Greenland starting with the Saqqaq culture, which thrived from about 4,500 years ago to 2,800 years ago.

Scientists fear that the 21st century warming is caused by climate change, stoked by a build-up of greenhouse gases from human activities. An acceleration of warming could cause a meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, raising world sea levels.

Copyright © 2011 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
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Greenland Flourishes Due to Global Warming and Climate Change

May 16, 2011

by Hans Bader

OpenMarket.org

in Agriculture,Energy,Environment,Global Warming,International,Natural Resources,Regulation

Alarmists have been decrying the effects of global warming on Greenland for years, even though Greenland was greenest during the Medieval Warm Period, and Greenland’s Vikings, who flourished during that warm period, died out when cold temperatures returned, reducing them to starvation. (It was warmer in the year 1003 than 2003.) Now, the residents of Greenland, the world’s largest island, are once again profiting from global warming, reports the Washington Post:

“Rather than questioning global warming, many of this island’s 60,000 inhabitants seem to be racing to cash in. The tiny capital of Nuuk is bracing for record numbers of visitors this year; the retreating sea ice means a longer tourist season and more cruise ships . . . Hunters are boasting of more and bigger caribou, and the annual cod migration is starting earlier and lasting longer. In the far south, farmers are trying their hand at an exotic form of agriculture: growing vegetables. ‘Before, the growing season was too short for vegetables,’ . . .‘Now it is getting longer each year.’”

Since 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency has sought to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (which we breathe out and plants consume) because they supposedly threaten public health in the United States by causing global warming. President Obama has backed a corporate welfare-filled global-warming bill that would increase electricity bills. Obama admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 that under his “cap and trade” plan to address global warming, ”electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

But even if greenhouse gas emissions are the principal cause of global warming (as opposed to natural causes), it’s not clear why such warming would harm public health in a non-tropical country like America. After all, people in America’s warmer cities have lower mortality rates, and higher life expectancies, than people in its colder cities.

Warmer climates may be particularly helpful for racial minorities in Canada. Most non-white Canadians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, putting them at risk of cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. Lack of exposure to the sun is a big part of the problem. More than 50,000 people die every year in the United States every year as a result of inadequate sun exposure. While milk is Vitamin D enriched, many non-whites are lactose intolerant. Sunlight is the most potent source of Vitamin D. But in northern regions like Canada, sunlight alone does not provide enough Vitamin D for many people who work indoors. There, the sunlight is too feeble in winter and fall for people’s bodies to turn sunlight into Vitamin D. To get enough Vitamin D from the sun, people have to go outside a lot during spring and summer to offset the weak sunlight in fall and winter. But increasingly sedentary lifestyles and office jobs have reduced outdoor activity. And cold temperatures in spring discourage warmth-loving people from going outside, even when the light is strong enough to produce Vitamin D. Thus, cold climates can be bad for their health.
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More on the The Demise of the Greenland Vikings

From sociological/archaeological points of view this research paper, Ideological Rigidity and the Limits of Ingenuityby Gary Bowden, University of New Brunswick-Fredericton, is a good read for those with an interest in what may have happened to the Greenland Vikings during the 500-year history of the two known Norse settlements on the southwestern Greenland coast. Bowden has done a good job consolidating the dogma of the current science regarding the disappearance from history of the 4000-6000 Norse Greenlanders.

Bowden's supposition is that the Norse Greenlanders adhered to the pastoral practices of their kin in the homelands, eventually starving as the weather worsened with the advent of the Mini-Ice Age rather than adopt the survival techniques of the Arctic natives. He identifies these natives as Inuit and according to all accepted research on the subject the Inuit did not begin to arrive in the area from the west until the 12th century, so they were not there in sufficient numbers to influence anyone. The Dorset Culture, or Tornit, peopled the Arctic and Greenland when the Norse first arrived in 986: it is they who would have influenced the Norse if anyone did.

I believe that an assimilation process with North American natives began shortly after the Norse arrival  on Greenland simply because the environment dictated adaptation rather than adherence to centuries of pastoral subsistence farming. The Norse Greenlanders did not starve out, they assimilated with the natives of North America.
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Viking Ship Not Just Ceremonial

Views and News from Norway

May 10, 2011


For years, it was widely believed that the ancient Tune ship on display at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo was used mainly as a so called "grave ship," perhaps even built for the purpose of being buried in the grave of an important Viking.

Now a new doctoral dissertation claims that it was not only an ocean-going sailing vessel, but even grounded in its time and underwent repairs.

The Tune ship is the lesser-known and in the poorest condition of the three vessels on display at the museum. It was discovered on a farm on Rolvsøy, north of Fredrikstad, and excavated from a burial mound in 1867.

The grave was unusually large, measuring 80 meters in diameter and around four meters high, according to the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo. The vessel, built around 900AD, was best preserved in the areas where it had been buried under thick clay.

Its remnants, however, paled when the stately Gokstad ship was discovered in 1880 and the Oseberg ship in 1903-04 on the other side of the Oslo Fjord. Now, archaeologist Knut Paasche of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) maintains in his newly finished doctoral dissertation that the Tune ship was also used on the high seas.

"Six planks forward on the starboard side are extended at the same place," Paasche told newspaper Aftenposten this week. "No boat builder would do that, not even in Viking times. Repairs to the hull show in all clarity that the ship was damaged under the water line, that is, it had grounded."

Paasche doesn't believe the Tune ship was a ceremonial ship that only was rowed inland until it was brought ashore and used in the burial mound. His studies revealed both ruts and signs of wear and tear under the keel, which he contends show that the ship was in use for a long time.

"The discoveries show that the Tune ship was in use for several years before it wound up in the grave," he told Aftenposten.

The Cultural History Museum now reports as well that the vessel "has probably been a fast, ocean-going vessel." Right behind the mast, a burial chamber was built and in it laid a man. Even though the grave had been plundered before its excavation, research has revealed remains of burial gifts, parts of a ski, the skeleton of a horse and remnants of his weapons including a sword handle.

Paasche, using data scanning, has reconstructed the ship in full. That adds to the knowledge of the third ship in the Oslo museum.

"While the Gokstad ship was a large ocean-going trading vessel, and the Oseberg ship close to a pleasure yacht, the Tune ship was a fast-sailing courier ship along the coast," Paasche told Aftenposten. He said it was equipped with unusually strong rigging for such a small vessel that also was built for 12 oarsmen.

Paasche believes the craftsmanship also suggests that early residents of today's Norway were sailing long before Viking times, given the knowledgeable boat-building behind the Tune ship. He said such building techniques could only have been rooted in maritime experience and handed down through generations.
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More on American Indian Sailed to Europe With Vikings?

This National Geographic article is somewhat dated, but I missed it the first around, so it is offered as support for the other articles on the subject posted herein.
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National Geographic News

November, 24 2010


Centuries before Columbus, a Viking Indian child may have been born in Iceland.

Five hundred years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, a Native American woman may have voyaged to Europe with Vikings, according to a provocative new DNA study.

Analyzing a type of DNA passed only from mother to child, scientists found more than 80 living Icelanders with a genetic variation similar to one found mostly in Native Americans.

This signature probably entered Icelandic bloodlines around A.D. 1000, when the first Viking-American Indian child was born, the study authors theorize.

Historical accounts and archaeological evidence show that Icelandic Vikings reached Greenland just before 1000 and quickly pushed on to what is now Canada. Icelanders even established a village in Newfoundland, though it lasted only a decade or so.

The idea that a Native American woman sailed from North America to Iceland during that period of settlement and exploration provides the best explanation for the Icelanders' variant, the research team says.

"We know that Vikings sailed to the Americas," said Agnar Helgason of deCODE Genetics and the University of Iceland, who co-wrote the study with his student Sigrídur Ebenesersdóttir and colleagues. "So all you have to do is assume & that they met some people and ended up taking at least one female back with them.

"Although it's maybe interesting and surprising, it's not all that incredible," Helgason added. "The alternative explanations to me are less likely"- for example the idea that the genetic trait might exist independently, undiscovered, in a few Europeans.

The study authors themselves admit the case is far from closed. But University of Illinois geneticist Ripan Malhi- an expert in ethnic DNA differences who wasn't part of the project- agreed that the report holds "strong genetic evidence for pre-Columbian contact of people in Iceland with Native Americans."

Dating the DNA Signature

Through genealogical research, the study team concluded that the Icelanders who carry the Native American variation are all from four specific lineages, descended from four women born in the early 1700s.

Those four lineages, in turn, likely descended from a single woman with Native American DNA who must have been born no later than 1700, according to study co-author Ebenesersdóttir.

The genealogical records for the four lineages are incomplete before about 1700, but history and genetics suggest the Native American DNA arrived on the European island centuries before then, study co-author Helgason said.

He pointed out that Iceland was very isolated from the outside world in the centuries leading up to 1700, so it's unlikely that a Native American got to the island during that period.

As further evidence, he noted that- though the Icelanders share a distinct version of the variation- at least one lineage's variation has mutated in a way that would likely have taken centuries to occur, the researchers say.

This unique signature suggests that, in Helgason's words, the Native American DNA arrived in Iceland at least "several hundred years" before 1700.

DNA Evidence Fragmented

Despite the evidence, for now it's nearly impossible to prove a direct, thousand-year-old genetic link between Native Americans and Icelanders.

For starters, no living Native American group carries the exact genetic variation found in the Icelandic families.

But of the many known scattered versions that are related to the Icelandic variant, 95 percent are found in Native Americans. Some East Asians, whose ancestors are thought to have been the first Americans, carry a similar genetic pattern, though.

The Inuit, often called Eskimos, carry no version of the variant- a crucial detail, given that Greenland has a native Inuit population.

Helgason speculates that the precise Icelandic variation may have come from a Native American people that died out after the arrival of Europeans.

It's possible, he added, that the DNA variation actually came from mainland Europe, which had infrequent contact with Iceland in the centuries preceding 1700. But this would depend on a European, past or present, carrying the variation, which so far has never been found.

History Not Much Help?

Complicating matters, the historical record contains no evidence that Icelandic Vikings might have taken a Native American woman back home to their European island, scholars say.

"It makes no sense to me," said archaeologist and historian Hans Gulløv of the Greenland Research Centre in Copenhagen.

For one thing, experts say, nothing in excavations or the Icelandic sagas- thought to be rooted in fact but not entirely reliable- suggests a personal alliance of the kind reported in the new study, published online November 10 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The Saga of Erik the Red does tell of four Skraeling boys- the Norse term for the American Indians- who were captured by an Icelandic expedition and taken back to Greenland, said Birgitta Wallace, an emeritus archaeologist for Parks Canada who has written extensively about the Norse.

But Icelanders spent little time in North America, and their relations with the people they found living there seem to have been mostly hostile, she said. The stories "talk in not very flattering terms about [Native Americans'] looks," Wallace said.

One saga, she added, tells of explorers "who found some sleeping natives- and they just killed them."

Time to Rewrite Viking History?

"What we have is a big mystery," study co-author Helgason admitted.

It won't be solved, he said, until the DNA pattern's origins are nailed down, perhaps through the study of ancient DNA- for example, if an ancient Native American bone is found with DNA closely matching the Icelandic variant.

But at least one skeptic suggests it's a mystery worth pursuing.

"I have no historical sources telling me" that Vikings took Native Americans home, said Gulløv, the historian. But often when new data is uncovered, he added, "we have to write history anew."
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Review of Confrontation: An Axe of Iron Novel

If you haven't yet begun to read my historical fiction series about the Greenland Vikings you might be interested in what one Canadian reviewer had to say after reading Confrontation, the second novel in the Axe of Iron series.

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The following is an excerpt of her review from 2010.
 
By Tracy Roberts, Write Field Services, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada.


"Hunsinger successfully builds on his first novel and adds even more action and adventure. As with the first novel, the story is rich in historical details which clearly show the careful attention paid to historical accuracy which allows the reader to peer through a window into the past and experience an important historical period. He incorporates the fictional tale with historical details which makes reading the story not only fun, but also engaging. Readers will root for Gudbjartur as he struggles with his Norsemen fighting spirit and his desire to make peace with the native people. I highly recommend ‘Confrontation: An Axe of Iron Novel’ as an entertaining addition to the historical fiction genre. Readers will find the story and characters so compelling that they will not realize that they are learning as they read."
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Roberts' complete review as well as many others of both novels are available on my website. Click on this direct link.

Thanks for dropping by.



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Vikings revered Stone Age objects

This article on recently found medieval Viking grave artifacts from Norway is noteworthy because the information suggests that Stone Age weapons and tools may have been regarded as "magical" and a possible link to the afterlife, a subject that I have noted in my Axe of Iron novels on the Greenland Vikings assimilation with certain North American natives.
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Views and News from Norway

February, 02 2011

New archaeological findings suggest that the Vikings considered Stone Age objects to have magical qualities, and that such "antiques" were more important in Viking culture than previously understood.


Examinations of around 10 Viking graves found in Rogaland, southwest Norway, revealed Stone Age items, such as weapons, amulets and tools. Olle Hemdorff of the Archaeological Museum in Stavanger told newspaper Aftenposten that he believes the items were buried so that "they would protect and bring luck to the dead in the after-life."

The latest revelations are linked to discoveries from Vikings who had travelled to Iceland, and who have been found carrying Stone Age items with them. Previously, such findings were not considered to be significant, but recent analysis links them to similar, earlier-overlooked evidence from several locations over the former Viking lands.

As well as being buried with the dead, as were some of their ships, Stone Age arrowheads and daggers were sometimes buried under Viking houses. Hemdorff suggests that "by including objects from their ancestors, the Vikings legitimized and gained 'control' over the past."

The custom of burying Stone Age treasures has also been identified in Iron Age communities and excavations from the age of migration (400-600 BC) found in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Indeed, the practice is mentioned in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, where it is stated that flint, pottery, round stones and shards are thrown into Ophelia's grave.

Hemdorff speculates that Shakespeare "probably built his own description on an old custom that we now know goes back to Viking times."
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Dig to begin at royal Viking estate

March, 10 2011

Views and News from Norway

The largest archaeological project in Norway in nearly 10 years will begin in June to recover property of the Viking king Harald Harfagre (alternatively known as "Harald Fairhair," "Harald Finehair" or, simply, "Harald I"). He was, at any rate, the first king of Norway.

Newspaper Aftenposten reports that the work will be taking place in Avaldsnes, Karmøy (southwest Norway), at a site believed to be part of Fairhair's royal estate. The research project, led by Oslo's Cultural History Museum in cooperation with its counterpart museum in Stavanger, will run from mid-June to mid-September and look to exhume about 11,000 square meters in the area this year, before completing the project in 2012.

Harald Fairhair is credited by many with uniting, through conquests and alliances, the various smaller princedoms into something resembling the modern kingdom of Norway. He is believed to have reigned from 872AD until his death in 932AD.

There is considerable historical debate over which areas he controlled, either directly or indirectly, and many point out that there were large parts of the existing country that lay outside of his kingdom.

The name "Fairhair" originates from a legend that suggests that Harald vowed not to cut his hair until he was king of all of Norway, after being originally rejected by his eventual queen Gyda Eiriksdottir, who wanted him to have more power before they married.

Other digs, too

Alongside the project to uncover the remains of Harald I, there are a series of other digs set to go ahead across southwestern and southern Norway.

Research will be conducted as part of motorway works in Vestfold related to a number of eras in human history, with the majority looking at the various stages of the Stone Age, especially the middle and late Mesolithic period. The Cultural History Museum hopes the work will reveal more about the development of stone age dwellings in the region.

More work will also be undertaken in Gudbrandsdalen in Oppland County before the building of a new motorway between Ringebu and Otta. It will focus on Iron Age settlements, and coal or whaling pits from the Iron and Middle Ages.

Yet more archaeological projects will take place in Hovden in the mountains of Aust-Agder and at Tyinkrysset, Oppland County before the building of new holiday homes, and will look for evidence of iron production.
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Excerpt from Assimilation: An Axe of Iron Novel

The following is a short excerpt from the third book of the Axe of Iron series, a continuing tale of the Greenland Vikings assimilation with certain tribes of pre-historical North American Indians. The scene is Halfdansfjord, the settlement built on a cove by the expedition on the southwestern shore of present day James Bay, Canada.
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Halfdansfjord

The face of the sun had just dipped below the western horizon when the peace that normally descends at day’s end was shattered by the guard’s horn wailing from the south tower. The signal was soon duplicated by the horn from the north guard tower as both combined to set up a frightful din, bringing the occupants of Halfdansfjord running from every quarter. People poured from the south gate onto the landing beach in response to the guard’s outstretched arm and shouts, “A ship rounds the headland! It is Steed of the Sea.”

Halfdan and Frida, in the forefront of the crowd swelling out along the beach caught sight of the ship between the two islands offshore of the landing beach as her mast top and sail swam into view through the ever-present haze. Her sail foot was pulled in close as she beat close around the headland.

Frida grabbed Halfdan’s arm, excitement flushing her beautiful face as she shouted above the din of the crowd. “Just look at her! She is a sight to behold!”

Halfdan’s arm encircled her shoulder and he pulled her close, his eyes drinking in the sight of his ship as Bjorn brought her about and she charged downwind on a broad reach for the landing beach. A flush coursed through his body at sight of the bow wave creaming out, the graceful prow slicing the water’s surface asunder as her speed rapidly increased on the downwind tack. “She has the bone in her teeth, just look at the white foam of the bow wave. Gorm has her hard on the wind.”
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Large snow flakes drifted lazily to earth from the grey, leaden clouds. The still air ensured an even accumulation over every surface. It all began three days hence with a cold wind from the northwest that brought increasing clouds and driving snow. With passage of this onslaught after the first day, the storm front pushed its way out over the broad bay to the south, a stillness gradually developed as the low clouds filled in, enfolding the settlement and the countryside in ice fog and steady snow.

Halfdan sat staring into the opaqueness from the shelter of one of the many sheds scattered about the settlement commons, where he often sought seclusion to commune with his thoughts. Dressed for the occasion, he wore the heavy bearskin parka that Frida had just this morning presented to him.


J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2011 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved

 
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Did Vikings navigate by polarized light?

Published online 31 January 2011

doi:10.1038/news.2011.58

Nature News

'Sunstone' crystals may have helped seafarers to find the Sun on cloudy days.

Jo Marchant

As highly skilled navigators, Vikings crossed thousands of kilometres of open sea.BRYNA PRODS/UNITED ARTISTS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION

A Viking legend tells of a glowing 'sunstone' that, when held up to the sky, revealed the position of the Sun even on a cloudy day. It sounds like magic, but scientists measuring the properties of light in the sky say that polarizing crystals — which function in the same way as the mythical sun stone — could have helped ancient sailors to cross the northern Atlantic. A review of their evidence is published today in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B1.

The Vikings, seafarers from Scandinavia who travelled widely and settled in swathes of Northern Europe, the British Isles and the northern Atlantic from around 750 to 1050 AD, were skilled navigators, able to cross thousands of kilometres of open sea between Norway, Iceland and Greenland. Perpetual daylight during the summer sailing season in the far north would have prevented them from using the stars as a guide to their positions, and the magnetic compass had yet to be introduced in Europe — in any case, it would have been of limited use so close to the North Pole.

But Viking legends, including an Icelandic saga centring on the hero Sigurd, hint that these sailors had another navigational aid at their disposal: a sólarsteinn, or sun stone.

The saga describes how, during cloudy, snowy weather, King Olaf consulted Sigurd on the location of the Sun. To check Sigurd's answer, Olaf "grabbed a sun stone, looked at the sky and saw from where the light came, from which he guessed the position of the invisible Sun"2. In 1967, Thorkild Ramskou, a Danish archaeologist, suggested that this stone could have been a polarizing crystal such as Icelandic spar, a transparent form of calcite, which is common in Scandinavia2.

Light consists of electromagnetic waves that oscillate perpendicular to the direction of the light's travel. When the oscillations all point in the same direction, the light is polarized. A polarizing crystal such as calcite allows only light polarized in certain directions to pass through it, and can appear bright or dark depending on how it is oriented with respect to the light.

Centred on the light

Scattering by air molecules in the atmosphere causes sunlight to become polarized, with the line of polarization tangential to circles centred on the Sun. So Ramskou argued that by holding a crystal such as calcite up to the sky and rotating it to check the direction of polarization of the light passing through it, the Vikings could have deduced the position of the Sun, even when it was hidden behind clouds or fog, or was just beneath the horizon.

Historians have debated the possibility ever since, with some arguing that the technique would have been pointless, because it would only work if the crystal was pointed at patches of clear sky, and in such conditions it would be possible to estimate the position of the Sun with the naked eye, for example from the bright lining of cloud tops3.

Gábor Horváth, an optics researcher at Eötvös University in Budapest, and Susanne Åkesson, a migration ecologist from Lund University, Sweden, have been testing these assumptions since 2005. The special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B in which their review appears is dedicated to biological research on polarized light1.

In one study, the researchers took photographs of partly cloudy or twilight skies in northern Finland through a 180° fish eye lens, and asked test subjects to estimate the position of the Sun4. Errors of up to 99° led the researchers to conclude that the Vikings could not have relied on naked-eye guesses of the Sun's position.

To check whether sun stones would work better, in 2005 they measured the polarization pattern of the entire sky under a range of weather conditions during a crossing of the Arctic Ocean on the Swedish icebreaker Oden5,6.

Through the clouds

The researchers were surprised to find that in foggy or totally overcast conditions the pattern of light polarization was similar to that of clear skies. The polarization was not as strong, but Åkesson believes that it could still have provided Viking navigators with useful information.

"I tried such a crystal on a rainy overcast day in Sweden," she says. "The light pattern varied depending on the orientation of the stone."

She and Horváth are now planning further experiments to determine whether volunteers can accurately work out the Sun's position using crystals in various weather conditions.

Sean McGrail, who studied ancient seafaring at the University of Oxford, UK, before retiring, says that the studies are interesting but there is no real evidence to indicate that the Vikings actually used such crystals. "You can show how they could be used, but that isn't proof," he says. "People were navigating long before this without any instruments."

Surviving written records indicate that Viking and early medieval sailors crossed the north Atlantic using the Sun's position on clear days as a guide, in combination with the positions of coastlines, flight patterns of birds, migration paths of whales and distant clouds over islands, says Christian Keller, a specialist in North Atlantic archaeology at the University of Oslo. "You don't need to be a wizard," he says. "But you do need to combine a lot of different sorts of observations."

Keller says he is "totally open" to the idea that the Vikings also used sun stones, but is waiting for archaeological evidence. "If we find a shipwreck with a crystal on board, then I would be happy," he says.

• References

1. Horváth, G. et al. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 366, 772-782 (2011).

2. Ramskou, T. Skalk 2, 16-17 (1967).

3. Roslund, C. & Beckman, C. Appl. Opt. 33, 4754-4755 (1994).

4. Barta, A. , Horváth, G. & Meyer-Rochow, V. B. J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 22, 1023-1034 (2005).

5. Hegedüs, R. , Åkesson, S. , Wehner, R. & Horváth, G. Proc. R. Soc. A 463, 1081-1095 (2007).

6. Hegedüs, R. , Åkesson, S. & Horváth, G. J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 24, 2347-2356 (2007).
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The Icelandic Riddle

January, 31 2011

Northern Pen

Could a Beothuk woman have been taken from the Northern Peninsula to Iceland by a Viking? Could they have had children, and could that bloodline still run through modern day Icelanders?

Turns out it's a possibility.

Archaeological evidence has long pointed to the fact that when the Vikings settled at Vinland, now L'Anse aux Meadows, around 1000 AD, there was no contact between them and the native inhabitants.

There was the odd reference to "Skraelings" in the Icelandic sagas, but physical evidence never backed up the theory that the two populations actually met.

However, a new study of Icelandic DNA raises the intriguing possibility that the two populations not only met - they also produced offspring.

It all boils down to a mysterious mitochondrial DNA sequence (that is, one inherited through the female line) called the C1e lineage.

The C lineage was originally discovered by Dr. Angar Helgason at deCODE Genetics, then study author Sigrídur Sunna Ebenesersdóttir spent three years examining the sequence.

Carried by more than 80 Icelanders, she found the C1e DNA sequence can be definitively traced to four female ancestors born in the country around 1700.

But, Ms. Ebenesersdóttir explained to the Pen last week by phone, it's likely the C1e sequence was brought to Iceland well before that - and well before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and landed in north America in 1492.

"We think it started a lot further back. The Icelandic population has not been affected by constant gene flow like many other populations, so we can assume that most matrilines in contemporary Icelanders are descended from the original set of female settlers, 1100 hundred years ago," she says.

"It's also important to bear in mind that this C1e lineage isn't found among Eskimo Aleut speakers, so it can be ruled out that it's found in the Icelandic gene pool as a result of a mixture between Greenland Inuit and Icelanders."

In fact, the only other people who carry the C1 sequence are a small group of East Asians and, more prominently, a large number of native Americans.

They carry a slightly different branch of the DNA sequence, but it's the closest relative and certainly has the most plausible explanation - that is, Vikings.

When you combine that with the archaeological evidence of Vikings in north America, specifically on the Northern Peninsula, things start to look a bit more interesting.

"If a native American woman was brought back to Iceland with a Viking, or if she had a female child with a Viking and he brought her back to Iceland, then that would explain the presence of this DNA lineage in the Icelandic gene pool," Ms. Ebenesersdóttir says.

"We cannot say for 100 per cent certain that this is what happened, because this particular DNA group has no other member to date, but the closest relatives of this group are found among Native Americans, so it's the most likely source."

There's even a chance this sequence could have come from the now-extinct Beothuk people, who are known to have lived in the region around the time of the Vikings.

"There is a chance that this C1e sequence still exists, and it's most likely to be among a native American population, but in terms of DNA the Native Americans from North America are somewhat under sampled compared to groups from other regions," Ms. Ebenesersdóttir explains.

"There's also a chance that it has now been lost from the native American gene pool and that it will only be found in ancient remains, so ancient DNA studies may play an important role in determining its origin."

The identities of the 80 or so Icelandic women who carry the mysterious DNA are encrypted in the country's genealogical database, but Ms. Ebenesersdóttir says they would probably feel pretty good about their involvement in a possible re-writing of history.

"I think it would be very cool for them - I would be excited," she laughs, "but I tested my DNA and I'm definitely not a descendant from this woman."

She's not the only one excited about the possibilities raised by the study.

Bill Bartlett, of Griquet, also goes by the name Lambi the Skald.

He works as a Viking interpreter during summer at Norstead Viking village, and says there's no reason the Vikings and native population couldn't have met.

"There are just so many things that point to the fact that happened," he told the Pen.

"Usually Vikings traveled with a boat of 30 men and five to seven women, and I'd imagine those women would end up saying stop pestering me' so why wouldn't the Vikings have looked elsewhere?"

Then you've got the stories in the Viking sagas, which Mr. Bartlett knows back to front.

"When you read the sagas, they talk about Skraelings and women bearing their breasts - that's a tradition of the Beothuk who'd rip open their shirts to prove they were women," he explains.

"On top of that there are references to interactions between the Indians, Eskimos and the Vikings, and when they were digging up L'Anse aux Meadows there were bits of Eskimo pottery there. I'm not sure how much, but it was there.

"When you think about it, this whole area of the Northern Peninsula was the gateway to Europe - everything passed through here. Everyone passed through here and all the way down to Port au Choix they've found native settlements, so why not? Why couldn't this have happened?"

So where to from here?

Well, Ms. Ebenesersdóttir hopes the study will inspire other scientists to look for relatives of the C1e lineage in native American DNA samples, perhaps establishing more concrete proof of the tie between that population and the Vikings.

"This is very exciting for Icelandic people because it's more evidence that they settled north America 500 years before Christopher Columbus, which a lot of people I think don't realize," she says.

This study could prove interaction between two populations on the Northern Peninsula that history says never met, but until the C1e lineage is found in another population, the fact a Viking may have taken a Beothuk wife will simply remain plausible speculation.



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The Medieval Greenland Vikings Can Teach Us About Climate Change

If you have ever been here before you have already read this article. I felt the content especially germane to the current world weather situation. This planet is in a state of flux, weatherwise, in case you haven't noticed. I will let my article from 2009 speak for itself. Look around, it is happening.
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The Northern Hemisphere of this planet is in a normal warming cycle. It began to manifest itself as the preceding cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800), wound down about the mid-19th century. Nothing in global climate happens overnight. Each cycle is of about 500-years duration. With that assumption, we can say that the midpoint of this warming cycle that we are enjoying will be about 2100. In other words, we can expect the climate to gradually trend toward warmer and dryer for the next 92-years. Then it might get worse, historically speaking that is. At the same time, there will be periodic cycles of colder, wetter weather in parts of the globe that have never experienced such in living memory.

The advent of the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300) gave rise to the Viking Age (793-1150).

The warmer weather increased production of everything the Vikings ate. Populations among the Viking tribes burgeoned dramatically. This eventually led to thoughts of expansion and conquest; the norm throughout human history. The ice-locked fjords began to clear earlier in the season than normal. The length of the raiding and trading season continued to increase over the 500-year period of the Medieval Warm Period. The Vikings exploded out over the north and western Atlantic Ocean, settling Iceland, Greenland, and areas of northeastern North America. The five hundred years of comparatively benign weather during the Medieval Warm Period fostered the Viking Age. Earth's next weather cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800), played a major roll in ending it, especially for isolated--from the homeland--Norse Greenland. The Greenland Norse lifestyle could not be maintained in the face of Climate Change and a changing environment--starvation loomed. Of all the single-cause explanations for the death of Norse Greenland, Climate Change has been the most durable. (Thomas McGovern, Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, The Demise of Norse Greenland, 2000-Smithsonian Institution, 330-331.)

Now, if the present global Climate Change cycle - Global Warming - is our responsibility, you know carbon offsets, CO2, and whatnot, if we caused this calamity, how do you explain the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300)? It was warmer in the Northern Hemisphere then than it is now. Perhaps the Vikings, the Greenland Norse people whom I write about caused it with their peat fires, flatulent livestock, and whatnot. Sounds ridiculous, huh? It is ridiculous. They had nothing more to do with their natural planetary climate cycle then, than we do with ours today. Remember, all of this climate stuff has happened before. It has been happening for 18,000-years that we know about.

The sun and the oceans working in concert control the weather on this planet. Without this synergy, much of the inhabited areas of the northern and southern hemispheres would be uninhabitable.

Simplistically speaking, the sun transmits most of its solar radiation to the earth along the equatorial belt, heating the oceans of the world and setting up out flowing currents that emanate north and south from the equator. At the same time, cold water from the Polar Regions sinks to the ocean floor establishing a flow pattern in the direction of the equator as they under ride the warm water flowing on the surface. Therefore, under ideal conditions a massive exchange of hot water from the equator and cold water from the poles occurs, giving us hominids the benign weather conditions that we enjoy over much of this planet.

All of this circulation occurs automatically because of the forces at play, hydrodynamics in other words. With Climate Change, the dynamics change. British scientists have reported that the warm water currents flowing toward northwestern Europe have declined by 30% since the 1950's. There also appears to be a 50% reduction in the amount of cold water flowing from the poles. Computer models of this dynamic predict that the North Atlantic current will cease to exist in 50-100 years. National Geographic News, James Owen, November 30, 2005.

The same article points to the fact that the melting Arctic and Antarctic ice is diluting the salt water of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The dynamic of circulation dependent on sinking cold water flowing south from the North Pole, or north from the South Pole, to bring the warm water of the equatorial seas north and south, is stalling as a result. This fact will make the northern and southern hemisphere much colder within the next 50-100 years.

Now there are six billion of us, give or take. The fastest growing populations have the least: they are deficit societies. People in Africa--all of the continent--the Indian sub-continent, much of continental Asia, Asia Minor, much of South and Central America, all of Mexico, every island in the Caribbean--well, you get the picture. Like rats or lemmings, we are positioning ourselves for disaster on a scale that defies comprehension. Can we feed the world, save the disenfranchised? NO! In the final analysis why would we? Our survival would be compromised. Shortages are like a snowball rolling down a hill, they are cumulative. Food shortages will translate to less food to send to feed the populations of all the undeveloped countries that we already support, because they cannot feed themselves; we will keep what we have for ourselves; and nature will take its course with them-they will begin to starve.

Entrepreneurs and scientists are playing the well-meaning, misinformed, easily manipulated, masses of earthlings like the proverbial banjo. Why, you might ask? Because the politics of human-caused global warming offer enormous profit potential.


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Rare 4,600 year old Ontario burial lifts lid on prehistoric Canada

The Independent
June 24, 2010

A 4,600 year old burial has been discovered in a remote corner of northern Canada and could hold the key to how ancient Canadians lived. The remarkable find has been made at the mouth of the Bug River, near Big Trout Lake, Ontario. Today the region is home to the Kitchenuhmaykoosik Inninuwug First Nation, an indigenous tribe numbering around 1,200.

The discovery was made by First Nation fishermen as water levels fell at the lake, exposing the burial. The site is currently being handled by an archaeological team from Lakehead University, Thunder Bay. The discovery is particularly rare as Canadian ethics laws largely forbid excavations.

The skeleton discovered is that of a man aged in his late-30s or 40s. Around five-and-a-half feet tall, the man had a "very, very robust muscular build," according to team leader Prof Scott Hamilton. The man would have held high status in his day thanks to a seemingly formal burial. "There's a flat slab of granite that's associated directly with the bones," adds Prof Hamilton. "It looks very much like a purposeful grave. We'll be taking a closer look at the stone as part of our analysis to see if we can find any evidence of function."

Another aspect due further study is a red ochre found on the man's bones and nearby sediment. It is thought the colour was added to his body before burial, a practice seen throughout the world, including prehistoric North America.

The man lived at around the same time the Great Pyramids were being built in ancient Egypt, and great cities such as Babylon were popping up across the Near East. Yet life at Big Trout Lake, where temperatures can plummet to -30°C, was very different. "These folks are adapted to the kinds of resources one finds in the boreal forest," says Hamilton. "These resources are highly seasonal in their availability and the season of comparative plenty is often spring, summer and perhaps early fall."

Isotope testing has so far shown that the man enjoyed a fish-based diet, with a side of hunted land mammals such as caribou (reindeer). The Spartan lifestyle, and migratory nature of food, meant Ontario's prehistoric tribes travelled huge distances in small numbers. "The winter seasons are generally a time of some scarcity and hardship as spatially concentrated food disappears," says Hamilton.

"That means sub-Arctic people, in order to survive year in, year out through generations, have to have a seasonal cycle that's highly mobile," adds Hamilton. "They can place themselves on the landscape where they can predict resources will be available and follow the seasonal cycles of availability."

It may seem an ancient lifestyle, but Canada's tribes have followed this ancient practice for millennia. "The past is very recent in the far north," says Hamilton. Even the appearance of Europeans in the 17th century did nothing to alter the indigenous way of life, and Hamilton says prehistoric traditions are still alive today: "(The First Nation) may be gathering and harvesting resources with European technology but they're (still using a) fairly significant amount of traditional technology canoes, snowshoes, footwear, clothing."

"What we see is this really interesting mix, an admixture, of traditional technology and the incorporation of new technology to practice a traditional life." First Nation Chief Donny Morris insists the man will be reburied after tests are completed, in the traditions of his forebears. Yet it seems we'll learn a lot more from him yet.
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Global Warming Is Not Science

Global warming is not science, as stated by Richard Johnson in his letter in Friday’s Grand Junction Sentinel. Climatology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Physics, etc. are some of the sciences associated with climate. Global warming is a theory, a hypothesis of anthropogenic involvement in the climate of this planet and as such it is unproven.

Mr. Johnson might want to check the facts of the matter before making public statements: e.g. “teach what 97% of climate scientists, that average global temperature are rising at unnatural rates, drastically and dangerously changing weather patterns worldwide,” etc. These are apparently Mr. Johnson’s contentions because they have no basis in fact.

The average temperature of the Earth has increased by less than <1°C in the last century. The synergy between the sun and the oceans control the weather on this planet, not Homo sapiens.

Entrepreneurs and scientists are playing the well-meaning, misinformed, easily manipulated, masses of earthlings like the proverbial banjo. Why, you might ask? Because the politics of human-caused global warming offer enormous profit potential. Scientists are lining up with their hands out for the billions of tax dollars that will fund the research programs that will purport to find a solution to save the planet from human-induced mass suicide. You cannot blame the scientists for adopting a self-serving agenda. After all, what use would they be without research dollars to fund their efforts? Let me couch that a different way: we are being fed a lie to further a political agenda and promote research to perhaps find a solution to a natural cycle over which we humans have no control whatsoever.

No, the theory of global warming should not be taught to impressionable children as anything but the political attempt to propagandize the masses, for that is what it is.

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved

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Archaeology: The Amazing Vikings


This interesting article on the Vikings was published in 2000 in Time; although dated, its content is relevant today. Details of the Norse settlements on Greenland, the exploration and settlement attempts by Leif Eiriksson on Newfoundland, and contacts with the natives of the land they called Vinland are of particular interest, since my Axe of Iron series covers that topic in a fictional sense. I think you will find the article to be worth your time.

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Archaeology: The Amazing Vikings

By Michael D. Lemonick; Andrea Dorfman
Monday, May. 08, 2000


Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens--such epithets pretty well summed up the Vikings for those who lived in the British Isles during medieval times. For hundreds of years after their bloody appearance at the end of the 8th century A.D., these ruthless raiders would periodically sweep in from the sea to kill, plunder and destroy, essentially at will. "From the fury of the Northmen, deliver us, O Lord" was a prayer uttered frequently and fervently at the close of the first millennium. Small wonder that the ancient Anglo-Saxons--and their cultural descendants in England, the U.S. and Canada--think of these seafaring Scandinavians as little more than violent brutes.

But that view is wildly skewed. The Vikings were indeed raiders, but they were also traders whose economic network stretched from today's Iraq all the way to the Canadian Arctic. They were democrats who founded the world's oldest surviving parliament while Britain was still mired in feudalism. They were master metalworkers, fashioning exquisite jewelry from silver, gold and bronze. Above all, they were intrepid explorers whose restless hearts brought them to North America some 500 years before Columbus.

The broad outlines of Viking culture and achievement have been known to experts for decades, but a spate of new scholarship, based largely on archaeological excavations in Europe, Iceland, Greenland and Canada, has begun to fill in the elusive details. And now the rest of us have a chance to share in those discoveries with the opening last week of a wonderfully rich exhibition titled "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga" at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Timed to commemorate the thousand-year anniversary of Leif Eriksson's arrival in North America, the show examines the Vikings and their Norse descendants from about A.D. 740 to 1450--focusing especially on their westward expansion and on the persistent mysteries of how extensively the Vikings explored North America and why they abandoned their outpost here.

In doing so, the curators have laid to rest a number of popular misconceptions, including one they perpetuate in the show's title. The term Viking (possibly from the Old Norse vik, meaning bay) refers properly only to men who went on raids. All Vikings were Norse, but not all Norse were Vikings--and those who were did their viking only part time. Vikings didn't wear horned helmets (a fiction probably created for 19th century opera). And while rape and pillage were part of the agenda, they were a small part of Norse life.

In fact, this mostly blue-eyed, blond or reddish-haired people who originated in what is now Scandinavia were primarily farmers and herdsmen. They grew grains and vegetables during the short summer but depended mostly on livestock--cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. They weren't Christian until the late 10th century, yet they were not irreligious. Like the ancient Greeks and Romans, they worshiped a pantheon of deities, three of whom--Odin, Thor and Freya--we recall every week, as Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were named after them. (Other Norse words that endure in modern English: berserk and starboard.)

Nor were the Norse any less sophisticated than other Europeans. Their oral literature--epic poems known as Eddas as well as their sagas--was Homeric in drama and scope. During the evenings and throughout the long, dark winters, the Norse amused themselves with such challenging board games as backgammon and chess (though they didn't invent them). By day the women cooked, cleaned, sewed and ironed, using whalebone plaques as boards and running a heavy stone or glass smoother over the seams of garments.

The men supplemented their farm work by smelting iron ore and smithing it into tools and cookware; by shaping soapstone into lamps, bowls and pots; by crafting jewelry; and by carving stone tablets with floral motifs, scenes depicting Norse myths and runic inscriptions (usually to commemorate a notable deed or personage).

Most important, though, they made the finest ships of the age. Thanks to several Viking boats disinterred from burial mounds in Norway, archaeologists know beyond a doubt that the wooden craft were "unbelievable--the best in Europe by far," according to William Fitzhugh, director of the National Museum's Arctic Studies Center and the exhibition's chief curator. Sleek and streamlined, powered by both sails and oars, quick and highly maneuverable, the boats could operate equally well in shallow waterways and on the open seas.

With these magnificent craft, the Norse searched far and wide for goods they couldn't get at home: silk, glass, sword-quality steel, raw silver and silver coins that they could melt down and rework. In return they offered furs, grindstones, Baltic amber, walrus ivory, walrus hides and iron.

At first, the Norse traded locally around the Baltic Sea. But from there, says Fitzhugh, "their network expanded to Europe and Britain, and then up the Russian rivers. They reached Rome, Baghdad, the Caspian Sea, probably Africa too. Buddhist artifacts from northern India have been found in a Swedish Viking grave, as has a charcoal brazier from the Middle East." The Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul has a Viking inscription in its floor. A Mycenaean lion in Venice is covered with runes of the Norse alphabet.

Sometime in the late 8th century, however, the Vikings realized there was a much easier way to acquire luxury goods. The monasteries they dealt with in Britain, Ireland and mainland Europe were not only extremely wealthy but also situated on isolated coastlines and poorly defended--sitting ducks for men with agile ships. With the raid on England's Lindisfarne monastery in 793, the reign of Viking terror officially began. Says archaeologist Colleen Batey of the Glasgow Museums: "They had a preference for anything that looked pretty," such as bejeweled books or gold, silver and other precious metals that could be recrafted into jewelry for wives and sweethearts. Many monasteries and trading centers were attacked repeatedly, even annually. In some cases the Vikings extorted protection money, known as danegeld, as the price of peace.

The Vikings didn't just pillage and run; sometimes they came to stay. Dublin became a Viking town; so did Lincoln and York, along with much of the surrounding territory in northern and eastern England. In Scotland, Vikings maintained their language and political links to their homeland well into the 15th century. Says Batey: "The northern regions of Scotland, especially, were essentially a Scandinavian colony up until then." Vikings also created the duchy of Normandy, in what later became France, as well as a dynasty that ruled Kiev, in Ukraine.

Given their hugely profitable forays into Europe, it's not entirely clear why the Vikings chose to strike out across the forbidding Atlantic. One reason might have been a growing population; another might have been political turmoil. The search for such exotic trade goods as furs and walrus ivory might have also been a factor. The timing, in any event, was perfect: during the 9th century, when the expansion began, the climate was unusually warm and stable. Pastures were productive, and the pack ice that often clogged the western North Atlantic was at a minimum.

So westward the Vikings went. Their first stop, in about 860, was the Faeroe Islands, northwest of Scotland. Then, about a decade later, the Norse reached Iceland. Experts believe as many as 12,000 Viking immigrants ultimately settled there, taking their farm animals with them. (Inadvertently, they also brought along mice, dung beetles, lice, human fleas and a host of animal parasites, whose remains, trapped in soil, are helping archaeologists form a detailed picture of early medieval climate and Viking life. Bugs, for example, show what sort of livestock the Norse kept.)

Agriculture was tough in Iceland; it was too cold, for instance, to grow barley for that all important beverage beer. "They tried to grow barley all over Iceland, but it wasn't economical," says archaeologist Thomas McGovern of New York City's Hunter College. Nevertheless, the colony held on, and in 930 Iceland's ruling families founded a general assembly, known as the Althing, at which representatives of the entire population met annually to discuss matters of importance and settle legal disputes. The institution is still in operation today, more than a thousand years later.

In 982 the Althing considered the case of an ill-tempered immigrant named Erik the Red. Erik, the saga says, had arrived in Iceland several years earlier after being expelled from Norway for murder. He settled down on a farm, married a Christian woman named Thjodhild (the Norse were by now starting to convert) and had three sons, Leif, Thorvald and Thorstein, and one daughter, Freydis. It wasn't long, though, before Erik began feuding with a neighbor--something about a cow and some wallboards--and ended up killing again.

The Althing decided to exile him for three years, so Erik sailed west to explore a land he had heard about from sailors who had been blown off course. Making his way around a desolate coast, he came upon magnificent fjords flanked by lush meadows and forests of dwarf willow and birch, with glacier-strewn mountain ranges towering in the distance. This "green land," he decided (in what might have been a clever bit of salesmanship), would be a perfect place to live. In 985 Erik returned triumphantly to Iceland and enlisted a group of followers to help him establish the first Norse outposts on Greenland. Claiming the best plot of land for himself, Erik established his base at Brattahlid, a verdant spot at the neck of a fjord on the island's southwestern tip, across from what is now the modern airport at Narsarsuaq. He carved out a farm and built his wife a tiny church, just 8 ft. wide by 12 ft. long. (According to one legend, she refused to sleep with him until it was completed.)

The remains of this stone-and-turf building were found in 1961. The most spectacular discovery from the Greenland colonies was made in 1990, however, when two Inuit hunters searching for caribou about 55 miles east of Nuuk (the modern capital) noticed several large pieces of wood sticking out of a bluff. Because trees never grew in the area, they reported their discovery to the national museum. The wood turned out to be part of an enormous Norse building, perfectly sealed in permafrost covered by 5 ft. of sand: "definitely one of the best-preserved Norse sites we have," says archaeologist Joel Berglund, vice director of the Greenland National Museum and Archives in Nuuk.

According to Berglund, a leader of the dig at the "Farm Beneath the Sand" from 1991 through 1996, the site was occupied for nearly 300 years, from the mid-11th century to the end of the 13th century. "It went from small to big and then from big to small again," he explains. "They started with a classic longhouse, which later burned down." The place was abandoned for a while and then rebuilt into what became a "centralized farm," a huge, multifunction building with more than 30 rooms housing perhaps 15 or 20 people, plus sheep, goats, cows and horses.

The likeliest reason for this interspecies togetherness was the harsh climate. Observes Berglund: "The temperature today gets as cold as -50[degrees]C [-58 (degrees) F]." Bones recovered from trash middens in the house indicate that the occupants dined mostly on wild caribou and seals, which were plentiful along the coast. (The domesticated animals were apparently raised for their wool and milk, not meat.) Scientists recovered more than 3,000 artifacts in the ruins, including a wooden loom, children's toys and combs. Along with hair, body lice and animal parasites, these items will be invaluable in determining what each room was used for. Researchers also found bones and other remnants from meals, and even a mummified goat. That means, says Berglund, "we'll even be able to tell whether there was enough food and whether the people and animals were healthy."

As Greenland's overlord, Erik the Red took a cut of virtually everyone's profits from the export of furs and ivory. Material success apparently did not keep Erik and his family content, though; they undoubtedly heard of a voyage by a captain named Bjarni Herjolfsson, who had been blown off course while en route to Greenland from Iceland. After drifting for many days, Bjarni spotted a forested land. But instead of investigating this unknown territory, he turned back and reached Greenland.

Intrigued by this tale, Erik's eldest son Leif, sometime between 997 and 1003, decided to sail westward to find the new land. First, say the sagas, the crew came to a forbidding land of rocks and glaciers. Then they sailed on to a wooded bay, where they dropped anchor for a while. Eventually they continued south to a place he called Vinland ("wineland," probably for the wild grapes that grew there). Leif and his party made camp for the winter, then sailed home. Members of his family returned in later years, but Leif never did. Erik died shortly after his son returned, and Leif took over the Greenland colony. Though he retained ownership of the Norse base in North America and received a share of the riches that were brought back, he stopped exploring.

This much had long been known from the Icelandic sagas, but until 1960 there was no proof of Leif's American sojourns. In retrospect, it is astonishing that the evidence took so long to be found. That year Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, went to Newfoundland to explore a place identified on an Icelandic map from the 1670s as "Promontorium Winlandiae," near the small fishing village of L'Anse aux Meadows, in the province's northern reaches. They were certain that it marked the location of an ancient Norse settlement.

Finding the settlement turned out to be absurdly easy. When the Ingstads asked the locals if there were any odd ruins in the area, they were taken to a place known as "the Indian camp." They immediately recognized the grass-covered ridges as Viking-era ruins like those in Iceland and Greenland.

During the next seven years, the Ingstads and an international team of archaeologists exposed the foundations of eight separate buildings. Sitting on a narrow terrace between two bogs, the buildings had sod walls and peaked sod roofs laid over a (now decayed) wooden frame; they were evidently meant to be used year-round. The team also unearthed a Celtic-style bronze pin with a ring-shaped head similar to ones the Norse used to fasten their cloaks, a soapstone spindle whorl, a bit of bone needle, a small whetstone for sharpening scissors and needles, lumps of worked iron and iron boat nails. (All these items helped win over detractors, since the artifacts were clearly not native to America.)

Further excavations in the mid-1970s under the auspices of Parks Canada, the site's custodian, made it plain that this was most likely the place where Leif set up camp. Among the artifacts turned up: loom weights, another spindle whorl, a bone needle, jasper fire starters, pollen, seeds, butternuts and, most important, about 2,000 scraps of worked wood that were subsequently radiocarbon dated to between 980 and 1020--just when Leif visited Vinland.

The configuration of the ruined buildings, the paucity of artifacts and garbage compared with those found at other sites, and the absence of a cemetery, stables and holding pens for animals have convinced Birgitta Linderoth Wallace, the site's official archaeologist, that L'Anse aux Meadows wasn't a permanent settlement and was used for perhaps less than 10 years.

Instead, she believes, it served as a base camp for several exploratory expeditions up and down the coast, perhaps as far south as the Gulf of St. Lawrence. "We know this because of the butternuts," she says. "The closest places they grow are east of Quebec near the Gulf of St. Lawrence or in eastern New Brunswick. They are too heavy for birds to carry, and they can't float. And we know the Norse considered them a delicacy."

The National Museum's Fitzhugh notes that the location of the camp was advantageous for various reasons. "L'Anse aux Meadows is rocky and dangerous," he admits. "There are much better places just a few miles away--but there's a good view. They could watch out for danger, and they could bring their boats in and keep an eye on them." What's more, Fitzhugh says, "they would have built where they could easily be found by other people. That's why they chose the tip of a peninsula. All they had to tell people was, 'Cross the Big Water, turn left and keep the land on your right.'" With fair winds, the voyage would have taken about two weeks; a group of men who tried it in the replica Viking ship Snorri (named after the first European born in America) in 1998 were stuck at sea for three months.

Despite all the natural resources, the Norse never secured a foothold in the New World. Within a decade or so after Leif's landing at L'Anse aux Meadows, they were gone. Wallace, for one, believes that there were simply too few people to keep the camp going and that those stationed there got homesick: "You had a very small community that could barely sustain itself. Recent research has shown it had only 500 people, and we know you need that many at a minimum to start a colony in an uninhabited area. They had barely got started in Greenland when they decided to go to North America. It wasn't practical, and I think they missed their family and friends."

Fitzhugh offers another theory. "I think they recognized that they had found wonderful resources but decided they couldn't defend themselves and were unable to risk their families to stay there," he says. "Imagine 30 Norsemen in a boat on the St. Lawrence meeting a band of Iroquois. They would have been totally freaked out."

As for discovering additional Norse outposts in North America, most experts think the chances are very slim. "These areas were heavily occupied by Native Americans," says archaeologist Patricia Sutherland of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, "so while there may have been some trade, relations would have been hostile. Maybe someone will find an isolated Norse farm on the coast of Labrador or Baffin Island, but not an outpost."

That's not to say Norse artifacts haven't been discovered south of Newfoundland--but aside from a Norse penny, minted between 1065 and 1080 and found in 1957 at an Indian site near Brooklin, Maine, nearly all of them have turned out to be bogus. The Newport (R.I.) Tower, whose supposed Viking origin was central to Longfellow's epic poem The Skeleton in Armor, was built by an early Governor of Rhode Island. The Kensington Stone, a rune-covered slab unearthed on a Minnesota farm in 1898 that purportedly describes a voyage to Vinland in 1362, is today widely believed to be a modern forgery. So is Yale's Vinland Map, a seemingly antique chart with the marking "Vinilanda Insula" that surfaced in the 1950s bound into a medieval book.

To the north, though, it's a different story. Digs at dozens of ancient Inuit sites in the eastern Canadian Arctic and western Greenland have turned up a wealth of Norse artifacts, indicating that the Europeans and Arctic natives interacted long after Leif Eriksson and his mates left. Says Sutherland: "The contact was more extensive and more complex than we suspected even a couple of months ago."

The Norse referred to the indigenous peoples they encountered in Greenland and the New World as skraeling, a derogatory term meaning wretch or scared weakling, and the sagas make it clear that the Norse considered the natives hostile. But the abundance of Norse items found at Inuit sites--some 80 objects from a single site on Skraeling Island, off the east coast of Ellesmere Island, including a small driftwood carving of a face with European features--suggests that there was a lively trade between the groups (as well as an exchange of Norse goods among the Inuit).

The Vikings held out in their harsh Greenland outposts for several centuries, but by 1450 they were gone. One reason was climate change. Starting about 1350, global temperatures entered a 500-year slump known as the Little Ice Age. Norse hunting techniques and agriculture were inadequate for survival in this long chill, and the Vikings never adapted the Inuit's more effective strategies for the cold.

Another factor was the rapacious overuse of resources. The goats, pigs and sheep brought by the Norse ate or trampled the forests and shrub lands, eventually transforming them into bare ground. Without enough fodder, the farm animals could not survive. The Norse were forced to eat more seal, seabirds and fish--and these too became locally scarce. The depletion of Greenland's meager trees and bushes meant no wood for fuel or for repairing ships.

To make matters worse, demand for the trade goods that Greenlanders exported to Europe plummeted. Not only was African ivory once again available (the supply had been cut off during the Crusades), but the material was falling out of fashion. And Europeans had their own problems: plague, crops failing in the colder conditions and city dwellers rioting in search of food. By the time the last Norse departed Greenland, the colonies had become so marginal that it took several hundred years before some Europeans realized they were gone. The Icelandic colony suffered too, though it managed to hang on.

But the true Vikings--those marauders of monasteries, those fearsome invaders from the north--had long since vanished, except in myth. As Europe's weak feudal fiefs had grown into powerful kingdoms, the Norse raiders had run out of easy victims. In England the victory in 1066 of William the Conqueror--a descendant of Norsemen from Normandy--marked the end of Viking terror.

Indeed, fear of the Vikings had played a pivotal role in reshaping Europe. "They helped develop nations and forced the Europeans to unite and defend themselves," says Fitzhugh. "It was a turning point in European history."

Back in their Scandinavian homeland, the Vikings' descendants also united into kingdoms, ultimately establishing Norway, Sweden and Denmark and pursuing a history no more or less aggressive than that of any other Europeans. The transfer of the Orkney Islands from Danish to Scottish control in 1468, for example, came not as the result of a bloody battle but as part of a royal wedding dowry.

As for the Norse settlements scattered around Britain and Europe, their inhabitants intermarried with the locals and finally disappeared as a distinct people. All that remains of them is their language and genes, spread widely through the Western world. Unlike Columbus, the Vikings may not have established a permanent presence in North America the first time around. But given the millions of Americans who share at least a bit of Viking blood, they are still there--and in considerable force.
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Icelandic DNA study Shows Evidence of First Americans in Europe in 1000 CE

The Genetic Edge Back to Sci-Tech


Icelandic DNA study Shows Evidence of First Americans in Europe in 1000 CE

Martin Barillas November 22nd 2010

Cutting Edge Senior Contributor


Medieval map showing the Old World and American coastline

When Christopher Columbus returned from his first voyage to the Americas, he shanghaied ten to twenty-five of the native peoples he encountered on the Caribbean islands he explored. Of these, only 6 were to be presented to the court of Spain's Catholic monarchs when he returned to the Iberian Peninsula in March 1493. These 6 American natives were presumed to be the first of the New World to set foot in the Old World. Until now.

King Ferndinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille had joined forces to unite Spain as the first modern nation-state, and by bankrolling Columbus they set about on a process of conquest, exchange, and transformation that still resonates today.

And it is now a Spanish researcher - a modern explorer charting a course in human history - who has uncovered evidence that Americans contributed to the European gene pool approximately 500 years before Columbus' decisive voyage of discovery.According to new research, scientists have found the genetic past of an Icelandic family that exhibit descent from Americans who were brought to Europe by Vikings who ranged into the northern reaches of what is now Canada and Greenland. Researchers at Spain’s Center for Scientific Research say that a woman from the Americas probably arrived in Iceland 1,000 years ago, leaving behind genes that are reflected in the DNA of about 80 Icelanders today. The link was first detected in Iceland several years ago. The island nation has one of the most thorough gene-mapping programs in the world, and the largest DNA ever attempted was conducted there in 2009.

Suggestions that the genes encountered by the Spanish researchers may have come directly from Asia were ruled out after samples showed they had been in Iceland since the early 18th century, long before Asian genes began appearing among Icelanders. Researchers showed that the genes they studied can be traced to common ancestors in the south of Iceland, near the Vatnajˆkull glacier, in around 1710. "

As the island was largely isolated from the 10th century onwards, the most probable hypothesis is that these genes correspond to an Amerindian woman who was taken from America by the Vikings some time around the year 1000," Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, said. Researchers will continue to determine when the Amerindian genes first arrived in Iceland. Said Lalueza-Fox, "So far, we have got back to the early 18th century, but it would be interesting to find the same sequence further back in Icelandic history." The study will be published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Norse sagas suggest the Vikings arrived in the Americas centuries before Columbus. Among these would have been the Viking Erik “the Red.” A Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, in the eastern Canadian region of Newfoundland, is thought to date to the 11th century. Other such settlements are found in Greenland, which Viking navigators reached from Iceland. The Vikings called the North American mainland "Vinland."

The unknown American woman was probably abducted from the Americas and then brought to Iceland. Having survived her capture and voyage to a distant place with strangers, the woman bore children there. This would explain the resemblance of many native Icelanders to American aboriginal peoples such as the Inuit. That her arrival is not recorded in Norse sagas did not surprise Lalueza-Fox, who averred that “women did not write history.”

The researchers collaborated with deCode Genetics, a company based in Iceland, which has DNA records of practically everyone living on the island. Their studies show that some 80 individuals, representing four distinct family lines, have American genetic origins.

The DNA lineage, named C1e, is mitochondrial – which means that the genes were introduced by a woman. “Given that they have the same sequence and that is of the Ameridindian type, it is logical to believe that these four ancestors, also come from a single common ancestor,” explained Lalueza-Fox. Since Iceland was isolated since the 11th century, “the most reasonable hypothesis is that these genes correspond to an Amerindian woman who was taken from the Americas by the Vikings around the year 1000 AD.”

Since the woman’s arrival a millenium ago, 40 generations of her descendants have flourished. In each generation, there was at least one girl child. “That woman had daughters and that female lineage has not been interrupted until now.” Otherwise, according to Lalueza-Fox, the DNA mitochondrial material would not have been passed down. The Spanish scientist said that he doubted that the woman’s genetic lineage would have been transmitted to the European mainland. No such lineage has been found to date among families in continental Europe, he said.

The Vikings were not only adept warriors and navigators, but also far-ranging slavers. Viking raids on the British Isles and into the Russian heartland brought gold to their coffers not only from pillage, but also from captives they sold in slave markets as far away as Constantinople. Genetic studies show, for example, significant levels of genetic material from the British Isles among modern Icelanders, descendants of Vikings. While the original male inhabitants of Iceland were mostly of Viking origin, the majority of original female inhabitants hailed from the coasts of Scotland and Ireland.
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Viking Greenland Referenced in Climate Change Article


BusinessDay
News Worth Knowing

ANDREW KENNY: Climate change
Published: 2010/11/30 07:31:12 AM


A year after Climategate, the corruption of science persists
 
IT IS a year since the so-called Climategate e-mails were leaked. Since then, we have had freezing winters in Europe and the US, and revelations of gross misrepresentations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The lasting impression is of massive corruption of science.

Leaked from the Climate Research Unit in England, the e-mails showed the scientists behind the climate scare plotting to: hide, delete and manipulate data; to denigrate scientists presenting different views; to force journals to publish only papers promoting climate alarm; to subvert "peer review" into "pal review"; and make the reports of the IPCC nothing but alarmist propaganda. The corruption spread through governments, universities, scientific societies and journals. You have to look back to the Lysenko episode in the Soviet Union in the 1940s (when a crank persuaded the Soviet establishment that agriculture did not follow Darwinian evolution) to find such perversion of science.

The worst nonsense after the scandal was this: "Well, some climate scientists committed a few minor transgressions but the basic science is sound." In fact, the basic science is nonexistent.

There is no evidence that mankind is changing the climate in a dangerous way. The slight warming of the p ast 150 years is no different from previous natural warming periods, such as the worldwide medieval warm period from about 900 to 1200AD. Global warming and cooling are closely correlated to variations in the sun, especially in its emission of charged particles. Carbon dioxide (CO² ), a harmless, natural gas upon which green plants depend, is a feeble greenhouse gas. Its only significant absorption band (15 micron) is saturated, so adding more to the atmosphere has a small and diminishing effect.

Over the p ast half- billion years (the span of multicelled life), CO² levels have averaged more than 2000ppm (parts per million) but with wild fluctuations, from more than 6000ppm to less than 500ppm. This has had no noticeable effect on global temperatures, which have remained remarkably constant for long periods, pointing to a stable global climate system, without which higher life might not be possible. This stability probably comes from low clouds, which increase when temperatures rise and have a powerful cooling effect by reflecting away sunlight.

In the 19th c entury, CO² levels were about 280ppm, extraordinarily low, putting stress on green plants. Man, by burning fossil fuels and through deforestation, has pushed the levels up to 390ppm. On present trends, they will be more than 500ppm by the end of the century. This will have only one major effect: better crops and forests, and more biodiversity. The effect on the climate will be insignificant. Talk of a temperature rise of 2°C is not valid.

But rising CO² has spawned the new millennial religion of man-made climate change. It has the usual religious themes of sin, damnation and redemption. The sin is naughty industrial man emitting CO² . Damnation is soaring temperatures, rising seas, floods and droughts. Redemption is forsaking fossil fuels and building wind turbines. The priesthood has special exemptions. The faithful see nothing wrong with US environmental activist Al Gore, who tells us to reduce carbon emissions, consuming vast amounts of fossil-generated electricity in his mansion and flying first class around the world.

The ideological reasons for climate alarm are the usual religious ones too: a desire to show how sinful man is, and to control human behaviour. The alarmists yearn to forbid ordinary people from using fossil energy.

What is new is the staggering amount of money involved. It is estimated that the US government alone, in the p ast two decades, has given 79b n to fund climate alarm. This dwarfs any money oil companies might have given to research. The sinister effect of this political funding is to drive science towards a desired result rather than truth: you will get your funding only if you show that mankind is causing dangerous climate change. The more alarm, the more funding.

Harold Lewis, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) after 67 years. In his resignation letter, he wrote about "… the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the Climategate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organises the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion."

He refers to The Hockey Stick Illusion by AW Montford, which is essential reading for understanding the climate scam. The book is about a key part of the scam: denial of the medieval warm period. If you go to www.co2climatescience.org, you will see more than 900 scientific studies confirming the medieval warm period. So does historical record: during this period, the Vikings colonised Greenland and grew crops where it is now too cold for them. The alarmists hate it because it showed the world warmer a thousand years ago while CO² was lower. So they used quackery to deny it.

The "hockey stick" graph, first published in Nature magazine in 1998 and then shown six times in the IPCC’s 2001 report and brandished around the world, showed temperatures in the northern hemisphere steady from 1000 to 1900AD (the handle of a hockey stick) and then rising to unprecedented heights in the 20th century (the blade). No medieval warm period! This nonsense was accepted with blind, unquestioning faith by the IPCC and much of the scientific establishment. They liked the result; they didn’t care about the method.

The hockey stick theory was eventually demolished by Steve McIntyre, an expert statistician, who managed to get hold of the data on which it was based and found outrageously wrong statistical methods, deliberate use of data known to be wrong, and other manipulations. (After this exposure, the perpetrators of the hockey stick started a website called "realclimate".)

The Climategate e-mails are there for all the honest world to see. You will see a small number of names — Jones, Mann, Bradley, Hughes, Briffa, Schneider, Santer, etc — conspiring among themselves to silence critics and promote climate alarm, which they have done with great success.

The climate alarmists are unable to counter the scientific arguments of the climate rationalists. So they resort to vilification. Anyone who questions man-made global warming is: a stooge of the oil companies; just like those who deny the Nazi Holocaust or deny that cigarette smoking causes cancer — or just like those who deny that Americans landed on the moon.

In May, I attended a superb climatescience conference in Chicago. Most of the speakers were the world’s leading scientists, all of whom showed convincingly that climate changes are natural. But some were politicians. One, Harrison Schmitt, gave a passionate attack on the pseudoscience of man-made climate change. He had been a US senator. He had also been a crew member of Apollo 17 — among the crew who were the last humans to walk on the moon.

Kenny is a consulting engineer with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering.



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More on American Indian Sailed to Europe With Vikings?

The deluge of scientific articles and papers associated with the startling discovery of modern Icelanders with North American Indian DNA has taken on a life of its own. As the story continues to unfold you will see that my contention—the premise of my novels on the assimilation of the Viking Greenland populace with pre-historical Canadian and American Indians—will be proven correct.
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More on American Indian Sailed to Europe With Vikings?


November, 24 2010

National Geographic News


Centuries before Columbus, a Viking Indian child may have been born in Iceland.

Five hundred years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, a Native American woman may have voyaged to Europe with Vikings, according to a provocative new DNA study.

Analyzing a type of DNA passed only from mother to child, scientists found more than 80 living Icelanders with a genetic variation similar to one found mostly in Native Americans.

This signature probably entered Icelandic bloodlines around A.D. 1000, when the first Viking-American Indian child was born, the study authors theorize.

Historical accounts and archaeological evidence show that Icelandic Vikings reached Greenland just before 1000 and quickly pushed on to what is now Canada. Icelanders even established a village in Newfoundland, though it lasted only a decade or so.

The idea that a Native American woman sailed from North America to Iceland during that period of settlement and exploration provides the best explanation for the Icelanders' variant, the research team says.

"We know that Vikings sailed to the Americas," said Agnar Helgason of deCODE Genetics and the University of Iceland, who co-wrote the study with his student Sigrídur Ebenesersdóttir and colleagues. "So all you have to do is assume & that they met some people and ended up taking at least one female back with them.

"Although it's maybe interesting and surprising, it's not all that incredible," Helgason added. "The alternative explanations to me are less likely"- for example the idea that the genetic trait might exist independently, undiscovered, in a few Europeans.

The study authors themselves admit the case is far from closed. But University of Illinois geneticist Ripan Malhi- an expert in ethnic DNA differences who wasn't part of the project- agreed that the report holds "strong genetic evidence for pre-Columbian contact of people in Iceland with Native Americans."

Dating the DNA Signature

Through genealogical research, the study team concluded that the Icelanders who carry the Native American variation are all from four specific lineages, descended from four women born in the early 1700s.

Those four lineages, in turn, likely descended from a single woman with Native American DNA who must have been born no later than 1700, according to study co-author Ebenesersdóttir.

The genealogical records for the four lineages are incomplete before about 1700, but history and genetics suggest the Native American DNA arrived on the European island centuries before then, study co-author Helgason said.

He pointed out that Iceland was very isolated from the outside world in the centuries leading up to 1700, so it's unlikely that a Native American got to the island during that period.

As further evidence, he noted that- though the Icelanders share a distinct version of the variation- at least one lineage's variation has mutated in a way that would likely have taken centuries to occur, the researchers say.

This unique signature suggests that, in Helgason's words, the Native American DNA arrived in Iceland at least "several hundred years" before 1700.

DNA Evidence Fragmented

Despite the evidence, for now it's nearly impossible to prove a direct, thousand-year-old genetic link between Native Americans and Icelanders.

For starters, no living Native American group carries the exact genetic variation found in the Icelandic families.

But of the many known scattered versions that are related to the Icelandic variant, 95 percent are found in Native Americans. Some East Asians, whose ancestors are thought to have been the first Americans, carry a similar genetic pattern, though.

The Inuit, often called Eskimos, carry no version of the variant- a crucial detail, given that Greenland has a native Inuit population.

Helgason speculates that the precise Icelandic variation may have come from a Native American people that died out after the arrival of Europeans.

It's possible, he added, that the DNA variation actually came from mainland Europe, which had infrequent contact with Iceland in the centuries preceding 1700. But this would depend on a European, past or present, carrying the variation, which so far has never been found.

History Not Much Help?

Complicating matters, the historical record contains no evidence that Icelandic Vikings might have taken a Native American woman back home to their European island, scholars say.

"It makes no sense to me," said archaeologist and historian Hans Gulløv of the Greenland Research Centre in Copenhagen.

For one thing, experts say, nothing in excavations or the Icelandic sagas- thought to be rooted in fact but not entirely reliable- suggests a personal alliance of the kind reported in the new study, published online November 10 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The Saga of Erik the Red does tell of four Skraeling boys- the Norse term for the American Indians- who were captured by an Icelandic expedition and taken back to Greenland, said Birgitta Wallace, an emeritus archaeologist for Parks Canada who has written extensively about the Norse.

But Icelanders spent little time in North America, and their relations with the people they found living there seem to have been mostly hostile, she said. The stories "talk in not very flattering terms about [Native Americans'] looks," Wallace said.

One saga, she added, tells of explorers "who found some sleeping natives- and they just killed them."

Time to Rewrite Viking History?

"What we have is a big mystery," study co-author Helgason admitted.

It won't be solved, he said, until the DNA pattern's origins are nailed down, perhaps through the study of ancient DNA- for example, if an ancient Native American bone is found with DNA closely matching the Icelandic variant.

But at least one skeptic suggests it's a mystery worth pursuing.

"I have no historical sources telling me" that Vikings took Native Americans home, said Gulløv, the historian. But often when new data is uncovered, he added, "we have to write history anew."
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First American in Europe was native woman kidnapped by Vikings

I have contended for years that the Greenland Vikings did not disappear, as was thought, rather they assimilated with the natives of the land they called Vinland. It is the premise of my novels on the Greenland Vikings. The following article indicates that scientists are beginning to take a look at that possibility with mitochondrial DNA found in the current residents of Iceland. Check out my website for my Axe of Iron series on the medieval Greenland Vikings and their adventures among the natives of Vinland.
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Friday, Nov 19 2010


First American in Europe 'was native woman kidnapped by Vikings and hauled back to Iceland 1,000 years ago'

By Niall Firth

Daily Mail

Last updated at 7:47 PM on 17th November 2010

A native woman kidnapped by the Vikings may have been the first American to arrive in Europe around 1,000 years ago, according to a startling new study.

The discovery of a gene found in just 80 Icelanders links them with early Americans who may have been brought back to Iceland by Viking raiders.

The discovery means that the female slave was in Europe five centuries before Christopher Columbus first paraded American Indians through the streets in Spain after his epic voyage of discovery in 1492.

The genes that the woman left behind have now been discovered in the DNA of just our distinct family lines.

Replicas of Viking sod houses at L'Anse Aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. The area holds the earliest evidence of Viking raiders arriving in the Americas

Any early suggestion that the genes were from Asia were ruled out after it was worked out that they had been present in Iceland since at least the 18th century – long before Asian genes appeared in Icelanders.

The team found that the genes they studied can be traced to common ancestors in the south of Iceland, near the Vatnajˆkull glacier, in around 1710.

It has long been thought that Viking raiders arrived in the Americas centuries before Columbus ever arrived in the Caribbean.

Norse epic sagas such as ‘Erik the Red’, talk of early Scandinavian settlers discovering lush new lands, with a temperate climate and abundant crops – now believed to be parts of northern Canada.

A Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, in the eastern Canadian region of Newfoundland, is thought to date to the 11th century. Other such settlements are found in Greenland, which Viking navigators reached from Iceland.

Because Iceland was isolated from the rest of the world from the 11th century onwards scientists speculate that the woman must have been taken from the Americas sometime around the year 1000. Viking raiders kidnapped local women on their plundering trips to Europe and the Americas.

The DNA lineage, named C1e, is mitochondrial – which means that the genes were introduced by a woman.

The unknown American woman was probably abducted from the Americas and then brought to Iceland after surviving the sea voyage back. She then bore children in her new home but nothing was ever written of her existence or fate.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Iceland is a renowned centre for gene research and the new study was led by DeCode Genetics - a world-leading genome research lab on the island which has DNA records of almost everyone living on the island.

Carles Lalueza-Fox, who co-authored the paper, told MailOnline: ‘In my view, the most plausible hypothesis is that these four Icelandic families derived from an Amerindian woman brought there at pre-Columbian times.

‘There are alternatives to this that we cannot totally reject. To have a definite proof, we should found a pre-Columbian Icelandic remain that could be genetically analysed and show the same Amerindian lineage.’

One of the alternatives is that a post 1400s American female, like Pocohontas, the character that inspired the Disney film, found her way from mainland Europe to Iceland. But scientists believe this to be unlikely because of how isolated Iceland was at the time.

Since the woman’s arrival a millennium ago, 40 generations of her descendants have lived in Iceland. In each generation, there was at least one girl child.

She also had daughters and the female lineage has not been interrupted yet as the mitochondrial gene has been passed through the generations.

The research team do not believe the lineage passed to the European mainland

The Vikings were fearsome warriors and highly skilled navigators. Viking raiders in Britain took not just gold and other precious good but also slaves that they could sell elsewhere around the world.

For example, while the original male inhabitants of Iceland were mostly of Viking origin, the majority of original female inhabitants came from the coasts of Scotland and Ireland.

Historical evidence suggests that people in Scandinavia and the British Isles arrived in Iceland around the year 870. The analysis of the Y sex chromosome, which passes from father to son, shows that 80% of Icelandic lineages comes from Scandinavia, compared to 20% in Scotland and Ireland.

Mitochondrial DNA, inherited through the maternal line, shows a 37 per cent from Scandinavia and 63% of the British Isles.

‘This difference has only one explanation: that the Vikings were in the habit of plundering the women of the British Isles. It is logical that they would do the same in America,’ said Lalueza-Fox.
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The Vikings' burning question: some decent graveside theatre

From The Times

October 26, 2008

Magnus Linklater

The average Viking lived a life in which spirituality and thoughts of immortality played a far more important part than the rape and pillage more usually associated with his violent race, according to new research. A study of thousands of excavated Viking graves suggests that rituals were performed at the graveside in which stories about life and death were presented as theatre, with live performances designed to help the passage of the deceased from this world into the next.

Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, who will be presenting his findings at a lecture at the university tonight, believes that these rituals may have been the early beginnings of the Norse sagas, which told stories about men and gods in the pagan world. He said that close study of the graves and the artefacts they contained, as well as contemporary accounts of Viking funerals, presented a far more complex picture of their lives than the simple myth of the Viking raider.

Detailed analysis of the burials revealed a remarkable variety of objects found alongside the bodies - from everyday items to great longships, wagons and sledges, together with animals of many different species and even human sacrifices.

Professor Price said: “Close analysis of Viking burials not only gives us an insight into the workings of their minds, but most importantly how slim they perceived the boundaries to be between life and death, and between humans and animals.”

He said that the burial rituals suggested the Vikings had no defined religion, but instead made up a set of spiritual beliefs, which were then acted out at the graveside. These became a form of theatre that predates the sagas and may have contained the origins of Norse mythology - the inspiration for Wagner's operas.

Professor Price said: “There seem to have been something like stage directions dictating how these rituals were to be enacted. Eyewitness accounts suggest that there were as many as ten days of ritual, with enormous time and effort put into the performances.”

The artefacts buried with the dead varied enormously. “No two graves were the same,” he said. Some bore evidence of a military career, with whole ships containing the corpse left open. Other graves were found to have had animal remains - one had no fewer than 20 decapitated horses - and occasionally there were human remains as well. Some Vikings were buried with their wives and families, others were laid to rest in more simple single graves.

Professor Price said: “What emerges from these studies is that these were an immensely sophisticated people, with a complex set of beliefs, and a strong interest in poetry. It was an utterly different world from ours. They were aggressively pagan, and strongly anti-Christian, perhaps as a reaction to the Christian missionaries. But there is great richness in this non-Christian world.”

Most of the existing records on Norse mythology date from the 11th to 18th centuries, having gone through more than two centuries of oral tradition that is thought to carry the seeds of Germanic legends such as the Valkyrie, the Niebelungen and Siegfried. Hundreds of place names in Scandinavia are named after the gods.

“The research focused on the examination of excavated material and Old Norse texts, combined with eyewitness descriptions of Viking burial ceremonies found in contemporary literature,” said Professor Price. “The study demonstrated the significant role that storytelling and dramatisation played in the Viking disposal of the dead. It seems clear that public enactments took place on these occasions, intended to provide the deceased with a poetic passage into the next life.

“The work suggests that Vikings used these funeral stories as a way of connecting the world of the living and the worlds of the dead. It is likely that these dramas, which were created and acted out using objects that were placed with the body in the grave or on the cremation pyre, form the beginnings of what we know today as Norse mythology.”
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Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language

August 14, 2010

CNN News

A British anthropologist is setting out on a year long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.

Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in north-west Greenland, the world's most northernmost people, and record their conversations and story-telling traditions to try and preserve their language.

The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a "pure" Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climactic pressure to move south, says Leonard.

"They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost," Leonard told CNN.

Leonard, who flies out to Copenhagen on Sunday before heading to Greenland, says there are about 1,000 speakers of Inuktun, an undocumented language.

Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.

"There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge... they speak a very pure form of Inuit, partly because of their geographic isolation. Their entire culture is based on a story-telling culture."

Leonard, an anthropological linguist at Cambridge University, England, is under no doubt about the physical and cultural hurdles that face him. The average temperature is minus 25 degrees Celsius, although it can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.

Inughuit, which is the name of the northern Inuits, are hunter-gatherers; they do not have a cash economy and the men can spend weeks away from home hunting for walruses, seals and other mammals. They still use dog sleds in the winter and kayaks in the summer.

Hivshu, an Inughuit who now lives in Sweden, helped Leonard establish contacts with his former community in Greenland.

He has written about the Inughuit way of life on his website: "Even before I went to school I began assisting my father when he was out hunting, summer or winter, no difference. That was the way I heard the stories about my ancestors and their songs told and sung by the old people as it was a tradition to tell the stories and sing the traditional drum songs of Inuit to all of us during the hunting."

Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed.

He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an "ethnography of speaking" that he hopes will be a permanent record that shows how their language and culture are interconnected.
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The Assimilation of The Greenland Norse With Native Peoples

The following is a repeat of an article I wrote two years ago. Given the renewed interest in Arctic exploration for signs of medieval Greenland Viking presence I thought it appropriate to show it to those of you who are new to all of this.
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The Assimilation of The Greenland Norse With Native Peoples

26 JUNE 2008

As I have mentioned in other writings, sooner or later some group of scientists will undertake to sample the mtDNA of certain native peoples of southeastern Canada, including the Cree of the Ungava Peninsula of Quebec, and the northeastern United States for Norse genetic markers.

Such a study is the only way to finally put to rest the 1000-year old mystery of what happened to the Greenland Norse settlers.

This effort should concentrate on a cross section of pure blooded members of the Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois Indian tribes. I submit that Norse genetic markers will be found in these Indians as they have been found in the male Inuit(Y-chromosome) of Greenland, although none have been found in female Inuit. The Greenland Norse, Niels Linnerup and Søren Nørby (Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, University of Denmark, Copenhagen, 2002) 107

This work will no doubt continue and extend into other areas of the Canadian Arctic.

Given the tremendous distances involved, the high cost of travel in the Arctic, primitive conditions, and the shortness of the summer season, it seems plausible that DNA studies will prove to be cheaper than archaeological excavations.
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New images may yield Viking ships

Views and News from Norway

October 5, 2010

Archaeologists think they have found two more Viking ships buried in Vestfold County south of Oslo. The biggest may be 25 meters long, larger than any found so far.

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Road construction near the old Viking trading center at Kaupang has led to the discovery of two large ship silhouettes on ground radar pictures. The pictures have been made possible through a venture involving the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, NIKU) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology.

They portray some "exciting" images with the help of high tech methods including satellites, laser scanning, magnetometers and georadar, according to NIKU officials. The methods can avoid or minimize destructive excavations by allowing archaeologists to register what the Norwegians call kulturminner (cultural antiquities) under the surface with a high degree of precision.

The images of Viking ships, along with several burial mounds, could be the biggest discoveries of their kind for more than a century, and some call them potentially "sensational" while officials urge restraint.

Even though the data so far is startling, the head of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway, Jørn Holme, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that people should not expect too much at this stage. "What we have discovered so far are the imprints of ships and iron nails," Holme told NRK. "However we are fairly certain that we will not find an intact Viking ship. It probably has disintegrated since the properties of the local soil are not good enough."

The imprints of the ships were found by means of georadar, a scanning technology that produces three-dimensional images of objects and structures below ground. "This technology is a breakthrough in the world of archaeology," say Holme told NRK.

Georadar works well in loose soil, but is less able to penetrate the clay that is needed to preserve wood and other organic objects, says Holme.

Both Norway's famed Oseberg and Gokstad ships were buried in such favourable clay conditions. The two discoveries, which are considered to be the best preserved Viking ships in the world, were discovered under several tons of stone, tightly packed with clay.

Even if archaeologists are not expecting finds on the scale of the Gokstad and Oseberg sites, there is good reason to believe that other cultural artifacts will be found in the ground. "There might be a burial in the ship, but one cannot expect the organic material to have survived," Holme said. "We can hope to find gold, silver, iron, pottery and glass."





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Home of Ice Giants thaws, shows pre Viking hunts

September 15, 2010

Reuters

Climate change is exposing reindeer hunting gear used by the Vikings' ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it from ice thawing in northern Europe's highest mountains.

"It's like a time machine...the ice has not been this small for many, many centuries," said Lars Piloe, a Danish scientist heading a team of "snow patch archaeologists" on newly bare ground 1,850 meters (6,070 ft) above sea level in mid-Norway.

Specialized hunting sticks, bows and arrows and even a 3,400-year-old leather shoe have been among finds since 2006 from a melt in the Jotunheimen mountains, the home of the "Ice Giants" of Norse mythology.

As water streams off the Juvfonna ice field, Piloe and two other archaeologists -- working in a science opening up due to climate change -- collect "scare sticks" they reckon were set up 1,500 years ago in rows to drive reindeer toward archers.

But time is short as the Ice Giants' stronghold shrinks.

"Our main focus is the rescue part," Piloe said on newly exposed rocks by the ice. "There are many ice patches. We can only cover a few...We know we are losing artefacts everywhere."

Freed from an ancient freeze, wood rots in a few years. And rarer feathers used on arrows, wool or leather crumble to dust in days unless taken to a laboratory and stored in a freezer.

Jotunheimen is unusual because so many finds are turning up at the same time -- 600 artefacts at Juvfonna alone.

Other finds have been made in glaciers or permafrost from Alaska to Siberia. Italy's iceman "Otzi," killed by an arrow wound 5,000 years ago, was found in an Alpine glacier in 1991. "Ice Mummies" have been discovered in the Andes.

RESCUE

Patrick Hunt, of Stanford University in California who is trying to discover where Carthaginian general Hannibal invaded Italy in 218 BC with an army and elephants, said there was an "alarming rate" of thaw in the Alps.

"This is the first summer since 1994 when we began our Alpine field excavations above 8,000 ft that we have not been inundated by even one day of rain, sleet and snow flurries," he said.

"I expect we will see more 'ice patch archaeology discoveries'," he said. Hannibal found snow on the Alpine pass he crossed in autumn, according to ancient writers.

Glaciers are in retreat from the Andes to the Alps, as a likely side-effect of global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases, the U.N. panel of climate experts says.

The panel's credibility has suffered since its 2007 report exaggerated a thaw by saying Himalayan glaciers might vanish by 2035. It has stuck to its main conclusion that it is "very likely" that human activities are to blame for global warming.

"Over the past 150 years we have had a worldwide trend of glacial retreat," said Michael Zemp, director of the Swiss-based World Glacier Monitoring Service. While many factors were at play, he said "the main driver is global warming."

In Norway, "some ice fields are at their minimum for at least 3,000 years," said Rune Strand Oedegaard, a glacier and permafrost expert from Norway's Gjoevik University College.

The front edge of Jovfunna has retreated about 18 meters (60 ft) over the past year, exposing a band of artefacts probably from the Iron Age 1,500 years ago, according to radiocarbon dating. Others may be from Viking times 1,000 years ago.

Juvfonna, about 1 km across on the flank of Norway's highest peak, Galdhoepiggen, at 2,469 meters, also went through a less drastic shrinking period in the 1930s, Oedegaard said.

REINDEER

Inside the Juvfonna ice, experts have carved a cave to expose layers of ice dating back 6,000 years. Some dark patches turned out to be ancient reindeer droppings -- giving off a pungent smell when thawed out.

Ice fields like Juvfonna differ from glaciers in that they do not slide much downhill. That means artefacts may be where they were left, giving an insight into hunting techniques.

On Juvfonna, most finds are "scare sticks" about a meter long. Each has a separate, flapping piece of wood some 30 cm long that was originally tied at the top. The connecting thread is rarely found since it disintegrates within days of exposure.

"It's a strange feeling to be tying a string around this stick just as someone else did maybe 1,500 years ago," said Elling Utvik Wammer, a archaeologist on Piloe's team knotting a tag to a stick before storing it in a box for later study.

All the finds are also logged with a GPS satellite marker before being taken to the lab for examination.

The archaeologists reckon they were set up about two meters apart to drive reindeer toward hunters. In summer, reindeer often go onto snow patches to escape parasitic flies.

Such a hunt would require 15 to 20 people, Piloe said, indicating that Norway had an organized society around the start of the Dark Ages, 1,500 years ago. Hunters probably needed to get within 20 meters of a reindeer to use an iron-tipped arrow.

"You can nearly feel the hunter here," Piloe said, standing by a makeshift wall of rocks exposed in recent weeks and probably built by an ancient archer as a hideaway.





http://www.archaeologydaily.com/news/201009155064/Home-of-Ice-Giants-thaws-shows-pre-Viking-hunts.html
Comments

More on Ancient Norse Settlements Hit Cold Spell

More on Ancient Norse Settlements Hit Cold Spell


Discovery News

March 11, 2010

A long cooling period may have led to famine in Greenland and Iceland more than 1,000 years ago.

New research reveals just how bad an idea it was to colonize Greenland and Iceland more than a millennium ago: average temperatures in Iceland plummeted nearly 6 degrees Celsius in the century that followed the island's Norse settlement in about A.D. 870, a climate record gleaned from mollusk shells shows.

The record is the most precise year-by-year chronology yet of temperatures experienced by the northern Norse colonies, says William Patterson, an isotope geochemist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who led the new work. The study will appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We're aware from written documents of the kinds of things that people faced in the North Atlantic over the last 1,000 years," he says. "This is a way to quantify the experiences they had."

For instance, Icelandic sagas mention several famines that took place in the first century after settlement, at the time temperatures were dropping. But Astrid Ogilvie, an Arctic historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says it's a stretch to blame those famines -- in which, as one saga describes it, "the old and helpless were killed and thrown over cliffs" -- totally on climate.

The mollusk temperature record is "all tremendously interesting," she says, "but there is a caveat -- we can't be 100 percent sure that climate was involved" in the famine.

The study will, however, help historians better understand exactly what was going on in the Norse settlements over the years, Ogilvie says.

Patterson's team made detailed measurements of oxygen isotopes contained within 26 mollusk shells taken from sediment cores drilled off the northwestern coast of Iceland. The ratio of oxygen-16 to oxygen-18 in the shells varies depending on water temperature, so the amounts of the two isotopes can be used as a proxy to gauge how hot or cold things were.

The shells show a large amount of variation both within years and from year to year. For instance, the researchers say, winter temperature variability increased between 990 and 1120, a time when written records suggest that crops occasionally failed. By 1250, things heated up again and summer temperatures reached 10 degrees Celsius, possibly the highest in three centuries. Within decades, though, temperatures began to plunge again.

While Iceland remained settled through the modern day, Norse settlements in Greenland were abandoned by the early 15th century. Many researchers believe that climate changes played at least a minor role.





Comments

Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language

CNN News
August 14, 2010

A British anthropologist is setting out on a year long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.

Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in north-west Greenland, the world's most northernmost people, and record their conversations and story-telling traditions to try and preserve their language.

The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a "pure" Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climactic pressure to move south, says Leonard.

"They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost," Leonard told CNN.

Leonard, who flies out to Copenhagen on Sunday before heading to Greenland, says there are about 1,000 speakers of Inuktun, an undocumented language.

Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.

"There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge... they speak a very pure form of Inuit, partly because of their geographic isolation. Their entire culture is based on a story-telling culture."

Leonard, an anthropological linguist at Cambridge University, England, is under no doubt about the physical and cultural hurdles that face him. The average temperature is minus 25 degrees Celsius, although it can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.

Inughuit, which is the name of the northern Inuits, are hunter-gatherers; they do not have a cash economy and the men can spend weeks away from home hunting for walruses, seals and other mammals. They still use dog sleds in the winter and kayaks in the summer.

Hivshu, an Inughuit who now lives in Sweden, helped Leonard establish contacts with his former community in Greenland.

He has written about the Inughuit way of life on his website: "Even before I went to school I began assisting my father when he was out hunting, summer or winter, no difference. That was the way I heard the stories about my ancestors and their songs told and sung by the old people as it was a tradition to tell the stories and sing the traditional drum songs of Inuit to all of us during the hunting."

Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed.

He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an "ethnography of speaking" that he hopes will be a permanent record that shows how their language and culture are interconnected.
Comments

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING

History may be defined as “a chronological record of significant events, often with an explanation of their causes.” 2000 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

An historical event is often quoted on the evening news as a basis of comparison for current events, or to reinforce a pundit’s opinion. The fabric of our daily lives is frequently held up against the backdrop of history, to give credibility—the ring of truth. But how much of what we accept as historical fact actually ever happened as we have always thought, or been taught? Not much, in my opinion. “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” Napoleon Bonaparte

Contemporary events are often manipulated to make a political point. Ask yourself, are we Americans, or the citizens of any country for that matter, going to willfully enter information into the permanent historical record that will harm the world’s perception of our country? We, the common citizen won’t, but we have little opportunity to be a player in historical events, rather we are bystanders. But we see our elected representatives do so daily. Why? To further a political agenda that has been proven to be at odds with the desires of the majority of the electorate. We see this penchant to make history, to manipulate history, in play every day on the national news. When today’s events are recorded you may rest assured that they will not reflect what really occurred; the record will show a manipulated opinion to reflect the ideology of the time. It has always been so. Why, there are those who steadfastly maintain that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. He in fact did not, nor did he ever set foot on the American continent. He was preceded by Leif Eiriksson by some 500-years and Leif may not have been the first, either. We will never know for certain.

I write novels about the medieval Greenland Norse people. Little substantiated information exists about them, because they wrote nothing down. Except for some facility with the runic alphabet of the time, I think they were illiterate. There are many historical gaps where I can portray daily events with fiction, i.e. - my own opinion of the unknown aspects of their history. Some of their history was recorded in sagas as long as 200-years after the events they portray, by writers who knew nothing about the subject people; the tales they tell are hearsay, folklore if you will. Although the sagas do give us a sense of the life of the times in which they were written the stories themselves cannot be verified.

All of history has been written by the bystanders. “The men who make history have not time to write it.” Metternich

It is human nature to embellish facts to increase individual participation or to reinforce opinion. I am doing that with this article. Memoirs written long after the events they portray are also a case in point. Embellishment is not dishonest, exactly, unless it is a lie and there are lots of those. Two generations of the youth of the major combatants of World War II have not been taught of the actual parts their country’s played in the conflict—the facts have been intentionally distorted. It is more palatable that way; ignorance is bliss, so to speak.

This brings me to archaeology. While archaeology has provided many windows into ancient civilizations and much terrific work has been, and continues to be done in the field, an overactive imagination is a prerequisite for success. Granted I am a layman, but I have had more than a passing association with the discipline through my years of research on the Viking Age and specifically the Greenland Norse people. Archaeology can, and has built entire civilizations on piles of rocks and scattered ruins, even to the point that the daily dress and thought processes of the ancient peoples are detailed—all of this in the absence of a single corroborating written word from the antecedents. These flights of fancy continue to the present day. The accepted dogma becomes so sacrosanct that to dare to make mention of a differing opinion will ensure the end of one’s career. Since I am not constrained by such, I am not cowed in any fashion.

Greenland was settled by the Norse during the height of the Medieval Warm Period and gradually abandoned during the next natural climate cycle, the Mini-Ice Age. William W. Fitzhugh, Vikings The North Atlantic Saga (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 2000) 330.

The medieval Norse settlers of Greenland disappeared from history after about 400 odd years. They went somewhere, leaving little behind, no ships, tools, and more importantly, no bodies. Those are the facts of the matter. Nobody knows what happened to them, not even the archaeologists. Nobody is even certain when the settlers disappeared. Many of us who are interested believe that they gradually assimilated with the natives of North America and the Arctic. Ellesmere - Vikings in the Far North, Peter Schledermann, 1977-1980. Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, William Fitzhugh and Elizabeth Ward, (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 2000)248-256.

I believe that the Mini-Ice Age prompted mass human migration on a vast scale that altered population locations of many of the indigenous people in the Arctic and on the North American continent. As the winter weather worsened the natives in the northern climes followed the animals on which they subsisted, they had no choice. This mass migration theory has been largely ignored because it is impossible to prove. Native language groups are the only certain indicator of homogenous relationships—a common origin. One such example would be the Athapaskan, or Athabaskan linguistic group, with origins in eastern Canada. The Navajo and Apache Indians of the American southwest belong to this group. The inference here should be obvious to all but the most obtuse individual—one who accepts without question the associated dogma of conventional archaeology. With the end of the Mini-Ice Age sometime in the 18th century, many of the northern dwelling indigenous peoples had been displaced from their ancestral homelands by a natural climate change cycle, some for generations, others forever.

“History is nothing but a pack of tricks that we play upon the dead.” Voltaire

And so, historically speaking, the Greenland Norse people did not disappear, they are still here. Over the past 1000-years their progeny became so mixed and commingled with the pre-historical ancestors of the North American Indians as to become invisible.

***

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
Comments

Medieval Vikings--a Discussion

I wrote the following to the editor of Scandinavian Press after the release of the Summer 2010 edition of the magazine in response to errors I perceived in a featured article and a vitriolic bombast of the film industry's efforts to depict medieval Vikings.
We have much information about the weapons of the period, the extent of their depredations throughout what is now western Europe, their ships, crafts, and so forth, but little about the people themselves, given that all save the nobility were illiterate, without a written language, and more than 1000-years have transpired since they lived.
I thought perhaps my readers, or those who follow the medieval Vikings, might find the topics of interest.
***
Dear Editor,

The following is in response to two Letters to the Editor in your excellent Summer 2010 edition of Scandinavian Press, Summer 2010.
***
It’s the Viking Team, Ellen Boryen:
while realizing that your letter is a paraphrased summation of Dr. Hale’s presentation, there are a couple points I feel compelled to make on your conclusions. I will assume that your reference to the Swedish Vikings burning their ships as the reason we have no examples of those ships, to be a reference to the 10th century writings of Ibn Fadlan, specifically his portrayal of the funeral pyre of a Rus chieftain. The Rus are thought to be Swedish Norsemen. Rus may also be the term used by the Swedish Vikings to describe the locals of present day Eastern Europe. Either contention is argumentative in some circles. Like almost everything regarding these people, we do not know for certain. Actually, several Swedish ships and boats have been found, one 20 meter example as recently as last year at the bottom of Lake Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake. To say that ‘Swedish Vikings burned their ships in burial rituals’ may not be the whole story. As you write, there are many examples of ships that have been recovered throughout Scandinavia. Every large museum that I have visited has examples of these magnificent ships. The 98’ Sea Stallion, Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, DE, is a computer scale copy of one of them and at this writing the largest extant. From Sea Stallion’s voyages we now know that the square rigged Viking ship was fast and capable in all seas. You are correct in saying that the medieval Viking ships lacked a traditional keel, however; the huge steerboard, mounted on the right aft side of the ship, performed that function admirably and pivoted up and out the way to beach the ship, or row it up a shallow river. The Vikings never felt the need of a keel and as a result no ship that we are aware of constructed by them ever had a keel. The function of a traditional keel is to balance the thrust of the sail when sailing close hauled to the wind, otherwise the ship or boat would be pushed away, to leeward, from the desired course by the wind’s force, making little or no progress along the desired track. You correctly point out that the shallow, keel less hull design allowed them to sail or row over many of the rivers they encountered—that was not accidental. Their ships were also hauled overland, something that would be impossible with a keeled ship.
***
The Subject of the Vikings, a letter by John Houle:
The Vikings, 1958, MGM, is actually a classic film and the best contemporary rendering of the Viking era that we have. Certainly artistic license was taken with the script, it was a movie, you know, for entertainment. I would say to John, the author of the negative rant on the film, “do some research the next time your dander is up.” The movie locations were authentic: Brittany, Fort La Latte, Côtes d'Armor, France, Germany, Hardangerfjord, Norway, and Lim Fjord, Croatia, to name a few. You missed the entire reason for the axe throwing scene involving the ‘beautiful Scandinavian girl.’ It wasn’t a savage game; it was a test of fidelity, or the lack thereof. The medieval Vikings were a savage people, living in a savage time. To make contemporary comparisons is ludicrous. The nationalities of the actors are of no consequence--although the Norwegian people were well represented--they are portraying the elements of the script. To those of us who have enjoyed the film, they became Vikings for a time. And John, the Vikings were not cowering in the ship during a storm, rather they were fogbound, and unable to see their surroundings, or the way ahead. It was a terrifying event for them. Have you ever been at sea, blind in the fog, or ‘cowering’ during a storm, John? Well, I have. The crash of the surf against an unseen rocky shore gives pause to anyone. The film makers were not portraying ‘we Scandinavians’ in a bad way, they were not portraying us as a people at all. Rather, they were trying to depict an era--they did an admirable job--about which we know little or nothing.
So John, sometimes it is best if we keep our lack of knowledge on a particular subject private rather than formalize it with a public letter.

J. A. Hunsinger
Author--Axe of Iron novel series
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com
Comments

ANCIENT NORSE COLONIES HIT BAD CLIMATE TIMES

The following article from the Science News is yet another substantiation of my contention that the inhabitants of the Norse Greenland settlements, the subject of my Axe of Iron series of character-driven, historical fiction books, and their disappearance from Greenland, may be attributed, at least in part, to climate change. These ancient people had no choice in the matter, they could starve on Greenland or move south to assimilate with the pre-historical natives of North America. As you will see in my books, through their eyes, that is precisely what they did, beginning soon after Leif Eiriksson's voyage of  discovery sometime between AD 997-1000.
***
ANCIENT NORSE COLONIES HIT BAD CLIMATE TIMES
Temperatures in Iceland plummeted soon after settlers arrived

By Alexandra Witze
Monday, March 8th, 2010


New research reveals just how bad an idea it was to colonize Greenland and Iceland more than a millennium ago: average temperatures in Iceland plummeted nearly 6°Celsius in the century that followed the island’s Norse settlement in about A.D. 870(sic), a climate record gleaned from mollusk shells shows.

The record is the most precise year-by-year chronology yet of temperatures experienced by the northern Norse colonies, says William Patterson, an isotope geochemist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who led the new work. The study will appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’re aware from written documents of the kinds of things that people faced in the North Atlantic over the last 1,000 years,” he says. “This is a way to quantify the experiences they had.”

For instance, Icelandic sagas mention several famines that took place in the first century after settlement, at the time temperatures were dropping. But Astrid Ogilvie, an Arctic historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says it’s a stretch to blame those famines — in which, as one saga describes it, “the old and helpless were killed and thrown over cliffs” — totally on climate.

The mollusk temperature record is “all tremendously interesting,” she says, “but there is a caveat — we can’t be 100 percent sure that climate was involved” in the famine.

The study will, however, help historians better understand exactly what was going on in the Norse settlements over the years, Ogilvie says.

Patterson’s team made detailed measurements of oxygen isotopes contained within 26 mollusk shells taken from sediment cores drilled off the northwestern coast of Iceland. The ratio of oxygen-16 to oxygen-18 in the shells varies depending on water temperature, so the amounts of the two isotopes can be used as a proxy to gauge how hot or cold things were.

The shells show a large amount of variation both within years and from year to year. For instance, the researchers say, winter temperature variability increased between 990 and 1120, a time when written records suggest that crops occasionally failed. By 1250, things heated up again and summer temperatures reached 10°C, possibly the highest in three centuries. Within decades, though, temperatures began to plunge again.

While Iceland remained settled through the modern day, Norse settlements in Greenland were abandoned by the early 15th century. Many researchers believe that climate changes played at least a minor role.
Comments

Ghostly face carving unearthed from Arctic site of extinct Dorset culture

Montreal Gazette
July 21, 2010

A Quebec archeologist has unearthed the ghostly carving of a face left buried on a remote Arctic island inhabited 1,000 years ago by the extinct Dorset culture the native people who mysteriously vanished from Canada's North after the ancestors of modern day Inuit arrived in this country.

The small, elaborately sculpted "maskette" - possibly worn as an amulet by a shaman serving as a Dorset tribe's guide to the spiritual world - is believed to have been made from walrus ivory and was found on one of the Nuvuk Islands at the northwestern tip of Quebec's Ungava Peninsula.

Traces of the long-lost Dorset or "Paleo-Eskimo" people, who are known to have evolved an artistically advanced society despite their harsh Arctic living conditions, are among the most prized discoveries in Canadian archaeology.

And the carved face, possibly meant to depict a female elder who provided leadership to her community, represents a particularly evocative image, with ears, eyes, nose and mouth all clearly defined on the elongated piece of ivory.

"It may have had some kind of shamanic meaning, but of course we can only offer various possible explanations," Susan Lofthouse, an archeologist with the Montreal-based Avataq Cultural Institute, told Postmedia News.

"Alternatively it could have served as a toy, or some kind of good luck amulet."

Measuring just five centimetres in length, the object was discovered last year during a dig at a known Dorset dwelling site by a group of Lofthouse-led Inuit high school students from nearby Ivujivik, along with graduate students from Universite Laval and Universite de Montreal.

"The moment of discovery was, of course, exciting," Lofthouse recalled. "I was helping one of the teenagers, Siaja Paningajak, excavate her square, and suddenly the maskette was uncovered."

Lofthouse noted that other Dorset depictions of human faces have been found over the years, but "none had the same level of detail that we can see in the Nuvuk Islands maskette."

Particularly intriguing is the possibility that horizontal lines etched below the figure's mouth could represent facial tattoos - a decorative art practiced by ancestral Inuit that may also have been used by the Dorset.

Remarkably, the ancient Inuit chin-tattooing tradition became part of a lively parliamentary debate in Ottawa last year as MPs weighed the merits of officially renaming the country's northern shipping route the "Canadian" Northwest Passage in a bid to symbolically strengthen the country's sovereignty claims in the region.

At the time, Inuit leaders successfully campaigned for the simultaneous adoption of an official aboriginal name for the waterway - "Tallurutik" - that is derived from the tattooing ritual among Canada's Inuit and a related landscape feature on Devon Island, at the eastern entrance to the passage, that appears as thin, dark lines running horizontally along shoreline cliffs.

"I do like the idea that (the maskette) could represent a woman, since distinct depictions of women are so rare in the Dorset archaeological record," said Lofthouse.

"Historically, Inuit women wore facial tattoos - in some areas this was still practiced in the last century," she added. "But we have no evidence one way or the other to tell us that Dorset women did the same thing."

See the historical fiction Axe of Iron series of books that details the Dorset culture and the Greenland Vikings who had relations with them. http://www.atlasbooks.com/marktplc/10367.htm
Comments

Scandinavian Press Book Review of Axe of Iron: Confrontation

Click this link or the Blog title line to read the in depth review of Axe of Iron: Confrontation, the second book in the thrilling Axe of Iron series about the Greenland Vikings settlement in North America more than 1000-years ago.
Comments

A Heartfelt review of the Axe of Iron series

Occasionally a truly heartfelt review comes along that consists of the actual opinion of a non-professional reviewer who has enjoyed reading a book. Mr. Walter Sopher's letter regarding the two published books of the Axe of Iron series is such a review--it is presented as written.
I appreciate Mr. Sopher's candor and enthusiasm for my book series about the Greenland Vikings adventures in North America.
***

Web page: http://www.icelandic-goods.com/

E-mail: snorri@icelandic-goods.com

Walter & Julie Sopher, 16111-84th Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T5R 3Y4, (780) 481-3502
***
Regarding the two Axe of Iron novels The Settlers and Confrontation by J.A. Hunsinger:

To me being a Canadian of Icelandic descent, as my great grand parents coming to Canada in 1883 from Iceland I have heard and read many books on the Icelanders, Vikings and the Icelanders that settled in Greenland not their choice but by the spirits of the world, when they were banished from Iceland for 3 years. And as the many Sagas tell us they did knot know where they were of to, but Eric did return to Iceland after his 3 years in exile and convinced many more Icelanders to follow him to Greenland.

Jerry has done a very good description of the Vikings, their mode of travel, food, navigation and made both the Novels very good and hard to stop reading always wondering what is next, all so real as his story could not be any better told and I do not speak as an expert but of a man that has lived most of his life working and living among the First Nations and Inuit people, from growing up in Riverton(NEW ICELAND) where most of the Icelandic Settlers lived and fished on Lake Winnipeg with the First Nations people, and the last 25 years in Canada’s North into the Beaufort Sea to the North and the Barrens land to the East

Jerry has told the story very easy to read and understand and he no doubt did his home work well and keeps the reader excited and wondering what is next

There are so many similar events in Egils Saga, Njalls Saga and other Sagas which I have several on hand but none as descripted (sic) as The Settlers or Confrontation books by Jerry Hunsinger, we could go on and on but I do know any one who starts to read this will keep on and say maybe our life today is pretty good not like the so called bad Vikings had to live and survive, and by time the first Vikings landed in Iceland around year 870 the plundering Vikings were only interested in peace and quiet, farming and fishing which is still done today

To sum it up Jerry has done a very good job of telling it like it is and I will be anxious to see the next new issue and suggest any people that able read this as it is very exciting and as one fellow said it would be a box office sell out as a movie.

We look forward to more of this interesting story soon and thank you for not letting the Viking story die.

Best Regards,

Walter Sopher

http://www.icelandic-goods.com/
Comments

Life of Vikings seen through soil

A scientist and a composer are working together to explore a thousand years of human history through soil samples.
The pair have built an installation in Dundee which tells the story of Viking settlers in Greenland going back to the year 900.
Images of soil samples gathered by Dr Paul Adderley have been set to audio by Dr Michael Young.
Dr Young said: "Hidden in the soil is this story about people and the environment. We explore that."
The audio-video presentation is generated live by a specially built computer program. The presentation takes about 30 minutes to explore more than 1,000 years of human history.
Stirling University's Dr Adderley said: "We combine visual information gained from a forensic examination of soils from old settlements, with an understanding of how Greenland's environment has changed. The everyday farm-life of the Viking settlers is used to create the synthesis of the sounds heard. Michael and I hope that the work will cause the audience to reflect on the nature of these past communities and the extremes of environment which were faced by Viking settlers."

Dr Young, from Goldsmiths, University of London, said he had used audio from a variety of sources to create the science-art collaboration.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/tayside_and_central/8557448.stm

Published: 2010/03/09 12:42:57 GMT

© BBC MMX
Comments

Human Migration - The Arctic and North America during the Mini-Ice Age

From 1200-1800, Greenland and northern North America experienced climate change caused human and animal migration that has not been repeated to the present day. The climate in these areas began to change dramatically during the one to two centuries of the latter half of the Medieval Warm Period (700-1200) and the onset of the next natural climate cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800).

The Greenland Norse, whom I write about, and the pre-historical ancestors of certain northern American Indian tribes, depended on large land and littoral animal species for their existence. As the climate decayed from the benign temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, inland ice and snow pack and coastal sea icepack would have increased with the onset of the Mini-Ice Age. The animals affected would move gradually south to ensure their own survival. Humans who depended on them, moved with them.

A study of Indian language groups reveals that massive human migration occurred on the North American continent during the Mini-Ice Age. It is virtually impossible to determine origin and relationships between the tribal bands because of the mixing of peoples that occurred as a result of this climate induced forced migration.

I am specifically interested in the Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Athapaskan language groups, because the people speaking these languages would have had contact with the Greenland Norse settlers in my Axe of Iron series of novels, as the Norse moved south with them.

To offer credence to my contention of climate-caused human migration I offer the case of the contemporary Cree and Ojibwa Indians, both tribes are Algonquian speakers. Their pre-historical ancestors, the Naskapi and Anishinabeg respectively, play a major role in my novels, for they originated along the shorelines and inland areas of Hudson Bay/James Bay, where my first novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, takes place. Their ancestors, fleeing the climate onslaught from the north, spread out over the present day upper Midwest and Great Plains of the United States, where many of them remain to this day.

Others eventually made their way back north, again following their food source, as the climate moderated with the cycle that we enjoy today.

The Haudenosaunee, pre-historical ancestors of the Iroquois Indians, also contacted my Greenland Norse settlers during the period, but you will have to read my books to know how and where that association occurred.

I also offer the present day Navajo and Apache Indian tribes as an example of the mixing of cultures that occurred on this continent during the period. These indigenous people did not originate where they now reside, the American southwest. Their language is Athapaskan and their pre-historical ancestors originated somewhere in what is now Canada. Their journey south began near the onset of the Mini-Ice Age, or about 1200.

As these nomadic warrior people took up residence in the southwest they came in contact with agrarian societies that were already there, such as the people we know only as Anasazi. Their invasion no doubt forced the Anasazi to develop the fortified cliff-dwellings - Mesa Verde for example - that they later abandoned as the onslaught of the warrior societies continued. This combined with the drought throughout the southwest that resulted during the period finally overcame their civilization.

Much happened on this continent as a direct result of climate-caused human migration during pre-history. The same thing will happen to contemporary humans - us - during the present natural climate cycle, as global climatic conditions dictate. The stark contrast will be that we will not be able to migrate, as our ancestors did, for we are too, many.
Comments

Greenland Vikings Hit By Changing Climate

ANCIENT NORSE COLONIES HIT BAD CLIMATE TIMES

Temperatures in Iceland plummeted soon after settlers arrived

New research reveals just how bad an idea it was to colonize Greenland and Iceland more than a millennium ago: average temperatures in Iceland plummeted nearly 6°Celsius in the century that followed the island’s Norse settlement in about A.D. 870(sic), a climate record gleaned from mollusk shells shows.

The record is the most precise year-by-year chronology yet of temperatures experienced by the northern Norse colonies, says William Patterson, an isotope geochemist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who led the new work. The study will appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’re aware from written documents of the kinds of things that people faced in the North Atlantic over the last 1,000 years,” he says. “This is a way to quantify the experiences they had.”

For instance, Icelandic sagas mention several famines that took place in the first century after settlement, at the time temperatures were dropping. But Astrid Ogilvie, an Arctic historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says it’s a stretch to blame those famines — in which, as one saga describes it, “the old and helpless were killed and thrown over cliffs” — totally on climate.

The mollusk temperature record is “all tremendously interesting,” she says, “but there is a caveat — we can’t be 100 percent sure that climate was involved” in the famine.

The study will, however, help historians better understand exactly what was going on in the Norse settlements over the years, Ogilvie says.

Patterson’s team made detailed measurements of oxygen isotopes contained within 26 mollusk shells taken from sediment cores drilled off the northwestern coast of Iceland. The ratio of oxygen-16 to oxygen-18 in the shells varies depending on water temperature, so the amounts of the two isotopes can be used as a proxy to gauge how hot or cold things were.

The shells show a large amount of variation both within years and from year to year. For instance, the researchers say, winter temperature variability increased between 990 and 1120, a time when written records suggest that crops occasionally failed. By 1250, things heated up again and summer temperatures reached 10°C, possibly the highest in three centuries. Within decades, though, temperatures began to plunge again.

While Iceland remained settled through the modern day, Norse settlements in Greenland were abandoned by the early 15th century. Many researchers believe that climate changes played at least a minor role.

By Alexandra Witze

Monday, March 8th, 2010

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Read about the Axe of Iron series of historical fiction books offering a viable alternative, through the eyes of the characters, to the disappearance of the Greenland Vikings from Greenland and history.
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Greenland Vikings Had Celtic Blood

Copenhagen Post
March 20, 2010


Norsemen who settled in southern Greenland carried more Celtic than Nordic blood but they were still decidedly Scandinavian.

An analysis of DNA from a Viking gravesite near a 1000 year-old church in southern Greenland shows that those buried there had strong Celtic bloodlines, reported science website Videnskab.dk.

The analysis performed by Danish researchers on bones from skeletons found during excavations in south Greenland revealed that the settlers' Nordic blood was mixed with Celtic blood, probably originating from the British Isles.

Danish archaeologists are currently conducting the first regional study of southern Greenland's original settlers, whose colonies date back to the year 985. The skeletons disinterred outside the old church also date back to just a few years after that period.

'The research results haven't yet been published, but initial results somewhat surprisingly suggest that the people in the graves were more Celtic than Nordic,' said Jette Arneborg, curator and senior scientist at the National Museum, and one of the Danish archaeologists involved in the project.

'We've always known that Norsemen traveled a lot and we also know that the early inhabitants of the Faroe Islands and Iceland had traces of Celtic genes. But now we also have evidence of this in Greenland as well,' she added.

Although the DNA analysis reveals the inhabitants had Celtic blood in their veins, Arneborg said there was no question that the settlers were Nordic.

'Everything these people did their culture, means of nourishment and so on was clearly Scandinavian,' she said.

Earlier studies of populations living in the Faeroe Islands and Iceland have shown that it was primarily the women who were of Celtic origin.

Arneborg said that indicated the Vikings may have come from Norway down past the British Isles -- where they took women with them -- and then continued on into the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.
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The Medieval Greenland Viking Association with Pre-historical Indian Tribes of North America

Between 986 and 1425, the generally accepted 500-year longevity of the medieval Norse settlements on the island of Greenland, a gradual assimilation process began with the native peoples of the Arctic and present-day North America that culminated in the disappearance from history of all 4000 of the Norse settlers. What happened to them has been a source of contention ever since-nobody knows to this day. We know three aspects of their disappearance with fair certainty: they did not die out, they did not voyage back to Europe, and they did not simply disappear. A process of gradual assimilation had existed with the Thule people of Baffin and Ellesmere Islands, in the Canadian Arctic, since the early years of the Greenland settlements. It only made sense to join with the people who already knew how to survive in this harsh new land. This assimilation process no doubt continued with other native populations further south throughout the following centuries. Those who remained on Greenland to the end finally had no choice but to migrate or face slow starvation. Common sense would indicate they went to North America as it is the nearest land mass from the two Norse settlements on southwestern Greenland and they already had a familiarity developed through long association.

European explorers from the 16th through 19th centuries reported seeing blue-eyed blonde and redheaded people living with the natives of the Canadian Arctic early in the period. Later in the period, four different expeditions found the same situation along the river systems of the central United States, stating in their journals that certain tribes appeared to be of mixed white and native origin. These explorers also reported practices among those tribes of mixed blood completely out of keeping with what they had noted among other tribes that did not appear to be of mixed blood. We have known of these mysteries for at least two centuries, but no investigation has undertaken to provide positive proof of where the white blood originated.

I am writing a five volume series that specifically speaks, in a character-driven, historical fiction sense, to some of the mysteries and legends surrounding the Indian people of southeastern Canada and the north central United States and the possibility of a deep-seated association with the Greenland Vikings. The first book of the series, Axe of Iron: The Settlers was published in August 2008. The next book, Axe of Iron: Confrontation was released in March 2010. Both of these books take place in the Canadian province of Quebec more than 1000-years ago. My series present a plausible answer to many native customs and beliefs that could only have developed through a close association with the Norse Greenland settlers. Space herein precludes my going into the details of my contention in this regard, but my continuing series covers most, if not all, of what a lifetime of research on the subject has revealed to me. Contentions are opinions and mine are no different. I cannot prove any of it, but nobody can disprove it either and therein lay the bones of a good story.

I believe that you will find that I have offered plausible explanations to many of the questions left unanswered by conventional archaeology. My series is not a dry history of these events; rather it is an intensely engaging story of what may have happened on the North American continent during pre-historical time between the indigenous natives and a large, mixed group of Greenland Norse people whose goal was to survive during a most difficult time in history. The characters carry the story and you will see it through their eyes.

The Historical Perspective in the first book of the series, Axe of Iron: The Settlers provides historical data to support the basis of my contentions about what may have happened in southern Quebec and areas of the north central United States 1000-years ago. The last two paragraphs of the Historical Perspective probably sum it up best: 'more than 40 – generations have elapsed since they came to this continent. Now their very existence, everything they accomplished, has faded from the collective memory of all the peoples they contacted and lived among. I prefer to believe the four thousand live on however, their genetic makeup diluted by the intervening centuries of time. They are still here, smiling back at us from the faces of the Inuit Greenlanders, Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois with whom they joined so long ago.'

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/



©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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Review From Midwest Book Review

An intriguing piece of historical fiction, highly recommended, May 7, 2010

By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Confrontation: Axe of Iron (Perfect Paperback)

With no understanding there is conflict. With understanding, there is peace. "Confrontation: An Axe of Iron Novel" tells the story of Vikings from Greenland who land on the coasts of the Americas and encounter the native people of the Americas. Though started in conflict, there may soon be a peace as the Northmen realize they need the natives to survive. "Confrontation" is an intriguing piece of historical fiction, highly recommended.
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A Candid Opinion of the Novel, Confrontation: Axe of Iron

An E-mail from Linda

Well Jerry...............I finally found 2 days that I could sit down and read your new book, Confrontation. I started yesterday and finished late this afternoon.

Wow.........another great job. You have left me hanging........I want to know what happened to Ivar and what's to become of Ingerd and Gudbj. I was so sorry for the young boy Yola and I was prepared to really like Gudrod but you killed him off. Again your descriptions and detail are outstanding. I was making pictures in my head all the time. Where in the world did you learn all that stuff? It seems all so real and I am sure it is as accurate as can be. We have certainly come a long way from the blood and guts of right and wrong of long ago......now we just have blood and guts with our drug issues and other bad guys.

I am really getting into your story now. I still am having a hard time with your names but I figure I will get better with each book. I have only read one other set of historical novels and that was the Earth Children Series. I did that some time ago and really enjoyed them, however, now I think your books are better and much more descriptive. I find it very interesting that all those different tribes ended up being the more modern Indians of long ago of the Northeast.

Oh, by the way...........your goofy hat on top of your head in the picture in the back of the book looks good........................Linda

P.S. If you kill off Halfdan, I will be very sad!!!!

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My Response

Hi Linda,

It is very gratifying when someone tells me they have enjoyed my writing, especially when they are a special person to me, like you. Fortunately, the subject matter of my books, making weapons, butchering game, blacksmithing, etc., have been a part of my life, so I can write about them with a certain authority because I have done them. The people of my tale are a part of my soul: I feel them, see them, smell them, and hear their voices. I write their story, from their perspective. If I am able to make you, the reader, see what I see, then I am successful. Thank you for telling me, it means a lot.

The names have all been researched, and they are genuine. Everybody has trouble with pronunciation. As I mention in the Forward, do the best you can, pronounce their names as you wish, just so you are able to keep the characters in their place.

You will enjoy Assimilation, but I cannot divulge any of my secrets--suffice to say, the book will engage those who are into my tale. :-) Ah, Halfdan, now he is an engaging character. His loss would certainly be momentous. He and Gudbjartur, and their devotion to one another, are the stuff of legends. Their importance to the story is a crucial aspect of the overall plot. Golly maybe I should kill both of them! :-)

That picture of me in the "goofy hat" was taken aboard ship last December. People seem to like it and the big smile is genuine.

Thanks again, Linda. Tell your friends about the Axe of Iron series. I am going to post your letter and my answer on my Blog. Take a look later this afternoon.

My best to both of you.

Jerry
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Climate Change Article--The Shetland News

I love climate change articles, especially when reason flies in the face of the the profit potential of the global warming hoax, and mentions the medieval warm period when the Vikings settled Greenland. Several excellent graphs accompanying the article did not paste into Blogger, but they are available by clicking on the title link to see the entire article as it appeared in The Shetland News today, or click the imbedded links within the article as you read. Your choice!
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The Shetland News

24 April, 2010

Professor Glover (‘Response from Professor Ann Glover,’ SN 17/4/10) introduces a new version of the “hockey stick” global temperature graph from the Met Office, whose Hadley Centre supplies temperature data to Phil Jones’ “Climategate” CRU at University of East Anglia, where it is processed and sent to IPCC.

The Hadley Centre has been accused by Russian scientists of selecting thermometer sites so that cold sites have been dropped in favour of warmer areas. There are, apparently, no thermometers in Siberia, but plenty in the south, in cities and at airports.
http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/16/iearussia-hadley-center-probably-tampered-with-russian-climate-data/

This has been going on in America too, where the total number of thermometers has been reduced by 75 per cent and the period of fastest falling thermometer numbers just happens to coincide with the period of fastest rising global temperatures. See below -
Source: Prof Ross McKittrick, http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/nvst.html

When, around 1995, they ran out of thermometers to deselect, lo and behold, barring the El Nino record peak in 1998, the warming stopped – what a surprise!

Even after all the shenanigans, Prof Glover’s graph shows only 0.5 degC of rise in 50 years, ie. one degree in the next hundred years, if warming continues at that rate. However “there has been no significant warming since 1995”(Phil Jones at the UK Parliament).

So why all the fuss? Scary predictions of a 4-6 degC rise by 2100. Warming will have to get a move on, though, it has been stuck for 15 years and there are only 90 years to go!

The handle of Prof Glover’s new hockey stick graph is shorter by about 850 years than the notorious one produced by Michael Mann and featured in Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth to “prove the recent warming period was the warmest in 1,000 years.”

In fact, the hockey stick has been shown to be a statistical creation by Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre (see below) and it is now discredited.
Source: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/15/hockey-stick-graph-was-exaggerated-mcintyre-gets-props/

That’s why Prof Glover’s hockey stick graph has a short handle, to avoid the embarrassment of the medieval warming period when Vikings cultivated Greenland.

The Duke of Wellington is reputed to have said after Waterloo, “they just kept coming in the same old way.” And so do the global warmers. Even in her sanitised clarification, Prof Glover just couldn’t resist inserting a carefully worded scare:

“I did comment that the Greenland ice sheet holds the equivalent of approximately 6m average global sea level rise and that current uncertainty around climate change does not provide us with information on what average global temperature rise would trigger irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet.”

So what temperature rise would trigger “irreversible melting” and what is the likelihood?

In fact, the Arctic has been far warmer in the past than it is now or is likely to become in the foreseeable future, like when alligators roamed Spitsbergen (75+ deg North).

“At Strathcona Fiord, the fossil record shows that those Eocene forests were inhabited by alligators, giant tortoises, primates, tapirs, and the hippo-like Coryphodon. There have been over 40 papers published on the Eocene fossils of Strathcona Fiord alone. There was no permanent polar ice, and large parts of the polar regions were covered by forests dominated by cypresses and angiosperms. Fossilized remnants of these forests are found in locations such as Spitsbergen, Greenland, the Yukon, northeastern Asia, and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.”
Source: Dr Ann Jefferson: http://hydrogeo.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/coal-the-high-arctic-and-the-fossil-record-of-climate-change/

So there likely wasn’t very much ice in Greenland then-a-days, yet it returned to where it is now, 10,000ft of icecap. Irreversible melting, seems a bit far-fetched to me?

A fundamental requirement of science is that you use your theory to make predictions which can be checked by observation to assess its validity. Tiresome for the “doomsters” is that, year after year, their predictions are confounded.

Red: Global Air Temp Anomaly (deg Celsius) Black: Atmospheric CO2 Concentration (ppmv)
Source: Presentation to US Congressional staff briefing, April 13, 2010, by Dr W. Soon http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/soon_carbon_myopia_talk.pdf

The graph shows a clear downward trend in temperature since 1998, however, the UK Met Office, again, predicts that 2010 will be the warmest year ever, let’s wait and see.

John Tulloch
tullochj22@btinternet.com
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Axe of Iron: Confrontation by J. A. Hunsinger -- Book Review

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Axe of Iron: Confrontation by J. A. Hunsinger -- Book Review

The epic saga of the Northmen continues in Axe of Iron: Confrontation by J.A. Hunsinger.

The second book in the Axe of Iron series picks up where the first book, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, left us. It is the late summer of 1008, and while the settlement at Halfdansfjord is flourishing, the uncounted numbers of indigenous peoples--the Naskapi, Anishinabeg, and Haudenosaunee Indians--have violently resisted the arrival of these pale-skinned invaders.

An ill-fated hunting trip, a blending of cultures, friendship with a tribe of Naskapi, the capture and eventual acceptance of a young boy of the Northmen by his Haudenosaunee captors, and an event that seems destined by the gods, leave the Northmen's fate hanging in the balance.

Can their developing relationship with the native tribes pave the way for the Northmen to survive in Vinland?

As with Axe of Iron: The Settlers--which we reviewed here--Hunsinger uses his wealth of knowledge and years of study to bring the Northmen and their adventures to life. Halfdan Ingolfsson and his second in command, Gudbjartur Einarsson, continue to lead the settlers in Halfdansfjord to what they hope is a prosperous life in Vinland.

Readers, who will recognize many of the names and characters from the first novel, are treated to watching these people develop and change as they meet the challenges of their lives in this new place; a place that is filled with hope and danger.

In Confrontation, we begin to see the blending of cultures as Thora of the Northmen marries Deskaheh the Haudenosaunee, who had once been captured by the Northmen, but who is now considered a member of their tribe. While Halfdan and Gudbjartur hope commitments such as these will allow the indiginous tribes and Northmen to better understand each other, they cannot let their guard down for a single moment. Hunsinger captures well, the dangerous situation in which the Northmen find themselves on a daily basis.

The Foreword provides important information for the reader, in addition to sharing a brief synopsis of what happened in Axe of Iron: The Settlers. Also included is a Glossary of Norse and Native Terminology to define terms that readers might find unfamiliar.

I found that as soon as I finished Confrontation, I was eager to continue reading the story of the Northmen. Luckily, Hunsinger also includes a short excerpt of the next Axe of Iron novel, Assimilation, which appears to be just as exciting as the previous two installments.

Readers of historical fiction are sure to be drawn in by this sweeping epic of the Northmen.

Title: Axe of Iron: Confrontation

Author: J.A. Hunsinger

Publisher: Vinland Publishing

ISBN-10: 0980160154

ISBN-13: 978-0980160154

SRP: $16.95

Note: This blogger was paid to copy edit this manuscript. No payment was received to provide a review of the book.

Posted by Cheryl at 1:53 PM

Labels: Axe of Iron: Confrontation, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, book reviews, historical fiction, J.A. Hunsinger, Norse history, Viking history
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Vikings In Nunavut

The following article appeared in the Calgary Herald last summer. It supports my contention that much has happened on this continent that we know nothing about. My interest is the Greenland Norse and I commend archaeologist Pat Sutherland, chief of Arctic Archaeology, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, ON, Canada, for her findings and her work in the Arctic. Unlike another archaeologist, Robert Park, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Sunderland approached the find with an open mind. Unfortunately, Park sounds like the majority of his ilk. He disagrees for two obvious reasons: he did not make the discovery, and his mind is closed to anything he disagrees with.
As others comb the Arctic and northern Canada for clues about the disappearance of the Greenland Norse settlers, their findings will add credence to my beliefs on the subject: the Norse settlers did not disappear, they assimilated with the pre-historical natives of eastern Canada and the north central United States.
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Vikings in Nunavut?


Find may indicate medieval Norse presence on Baffin Island

By Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service May 26, 2009




This May 26 handout photo shows a Nanook archeological site on Baffin Island. Traces of a stone-and-sod wall found at the site, if confirmed, would represent only the second location in the New World where Norse seafarers -- popularly known as Vikings -- built a dwelling.

Photograph by: P. Sutherland, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canwest News ServiceOne of Canada's top Arctic archeologists says the remnants of a stone-and-sod wall unearthed on southern Baffin Island may be traces of a shelter built more than 700 years ago by Norse seafarers — a stunning find that would be just the second location in the New World with evidence of a Viking-built structure.

The tantalizing signs of a possible medieval Norse presence in Nunavut were found at the previously examined Nanook archeological site, about 200 km southwest of Iqaluit, where people of the now-extinct Dorset culture once occupied a stretch of Hudson Strait shoreline.

A UNESCO World Heritage site at northern Newfoundland's L'Anse aux Meadows — about 1,500 km southeast of the Nanook dig — is the only confirmed location of a Viking settlement in North America. There, about 1,000 years ago, it's believed a party of Norse voyagers from Greenland led by Leif Eiriksson built several sod-and-wood dwellings before abandoning their colonization attempt under threat from hostile natives they called "Skraelings."

But over the past 10 years, research teams led by the Canadian Museum of Civilization's chief of Arctic archeology, Pat Sutherland, have compiled evidence from field studies and archived collections that strongly suggests the Norse presence in northern Canada didn't end with Eiriksson's retreat from Newfoundland.

At three sites on Baffin Island, which the Norse called "Helluland" or "land of stone slabs", and at another in northern Labrador, the researchers have documented dozens of suspected Norse artifacts such as Scandinavian-style spun yarn, distinctively notched and decorated wood objects and whetstones for sharpening knives and axes.

A single human tooth from one of the sites was tested a few years ago for possible European DNA, but the results were inconclusive.

Among the new artifacts found near the sod-and-stone features at Nanook is a whalebone spade — consistent with tools found at Norse sites in Greenland, and which might have been used to cut sections of turf for the shelter.

There is also evidence at Nanook of what appears to be a rock-lined drainage system comparable to ones found at proven Viking sites.

The apparent "architectural elements" found at the site "still have to be confirmed," Sutherland told Canwest News Service. "They're definitely anomalous for Dorset culture. And when you see these things in connection with Norse artifacts, it suggests that there may have been some kind of a shore station."

Sutherland's theory is that Norse sailors continued to travel between Greenland and Arctic Canada for generations after the failed colonization bid in Newfoundland. She believes they encountered and possibly traded with the Dorset, ancient aboriginals who were later overrun — probably before 1400 A.D. — by the eastward-migrating Thule ancestors of modern Inuit.

The theory is a controversial one.

University of Waterloo archeologist Robert Park recently challenged the dating of artifacts and Sutherland's interpretations of evidence in a paper published by the journal Antiquity.

Park argues that the "most plausible explanation" for Norse-like traces at Nanook and other sites is that "none of these traits come from Dorset-European contact."

He suggests such items may have been developed without any Norse influence by the ancient indigenous inhabitants of northern Canada.

"Despite the difficulty of proving a negative — i.e. establishing that Dorset did not come into contact with the Norse — on the basis of these data there appears to be no convincing archeological evidence that contact occurred," Park concludes.

Sutherland insists that while proof of Norse-Dorset interaction isn't overwhelming, there are now "several lines of evidence" pointing to sustained contact. And she notes that the kind of "boulders and turf" structural feature observed at Nanook is "atypical for Dorset" and consistent with Norse culture.

"I think in any scientific field, when something new comes along that hasn't been given much consideration in the past, it generates debate," she said.

Sutherland, whose research is also featured in the current issue of Canadian Geographic, said a scientific paper summarizing a decade's worth of work on the national museum's Helluland project is due to be published in August.

Further field work at a Dorset site in northern Labrador is scheduled for 2010, she added.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
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Human Migration - The Arctic and North America During the Mini-Ice Age

From 1200-1800, Greenland and northern North America experienced climate change caused human and animal migration that has not been repeated to the present day. The climate in these areas began to change dramatically during the one to two centuries of the latter half of the Medieval Warm Period (700-1200) and the onset of the next natural climate cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800).

The Greenland Norse, whom I write about, and the pre-historical ancestors of certain northern American Indian tribes, depended on large land and littoral animal species for their existence. As the climate decayed from the benign temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, inland ice and snow pack and coastal sea icepack would have increased with the onset of the Mini-Ice Age. The animals affected would move gradually south to ensure their own survival. Humans who depended on them, moved with them.

A study of Indian language groups reveals that massive human migration occurred on the North American continent during the Mini-Ice Age. It is virtually impossible to determine origin and relationships between the tribal bands because of the mixing of peoples that occurred as a result of this climate induced forced migration.

I am specifically interested in the Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Athapascan language groups, because the people speaking these languages would have had contact with the Greenland Norse settlers in my Axe of Iron series of novels, as the Norse moved south with them.

To offer credence to my contention of climate-caused human migration I offer the case of the contemporary Cree and Ojibwe Indians, both tribes are Algonquian speakers. Their pre-historical ancestors, the Naskapi and Anishinabeg respectively, play a major role in my novels, for they originated along the shorelines and inland areas of Hudson Bay/James Bay, where my first novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, takes place. Their ancestors, fleeing the climate onslaught from the north, spread out over the present day upper Midwest and Great Plains of the United States, where many of them remain to this day.

Others eventually made their way back north, again following their food source, as the climate moderated with the cycle that we enjoy today.

The Haudenosaunee, pre-historical ancestors of the Iroquois Indians, also contacted my Greenland Norse settlers during the period, but you will have to read my books to know how and where that association occurred.

I also offer the present day Navajo and Apache Indian tribes as an example of the mixing of cultures that occurred on this continent during the period. These indigenous people did not originate where they now reside, the American southwest. Their language is Athapascan and their pre-historical ancestors originated somewhere in what is now Canada. Their journey south began near the onset of the Mini-Ice Age, or about 1200.

As these nomadic warrior people took up residence in the southwest they came in contact with agrarian societies that were already there, such as the people we know only as Anasazi. Their invasion no doubt forced the Anasazi to develop the fortified cliff-dwellings - Mesa Verde for example - that they later abandoned as the onslaught of the warrior societies continued. This combined with the drought throughout the southwest that resulted during the period finally overcame their civilization.

Much happened on this continent as a direct result of climate-caused human migration during pre-history. The same thing will happen to contemporary humans - us - during the present natural climate cycle, as global climatic conditions dictate. The stark contrast will be that we will not be able to migrate, as our ancestors did, for we are too, many.
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J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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Historically Speaking

History may be defined as “a chronological record of significant events, often with an explanation of their causes.” 2000 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

An historical event is often quoted on the evening news as a basis of comparison for current events, or to reinforce a pundit’s opinion. The fabric of our daily lives is frequently held up against the backdrop of history, to give credibility—the ring of truth. But how much of what we accept as historical fact actually ever happened as we have always thought, or been taught? Not much, in my opinion. “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” Napoleon Bonaparte

Contemporary events are often manipulated to make a political point. Ask yourself, are we Americans, or the citizens of any country for that matter, going to willfully enter information into the permanent historical record that will harm the world’s perception of our country? We, the common citizen won’t, but we have little opportunity to be a player in historical events, rather we are bystanders. But we see our elected representatives do so daily. Why? To further a political agenda that has been proven to be at odds with the desires of the majority of the electorate. We see this penchant to make history, to manipulate history, in play every day on the national news. When today’s events are recorded you may rest assured that they will not reflect what really occurred; the record will show a manipulated opinion to reflect the ideology of the time. It has always been so. Why, there are those who steadfastly maintain that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. He in fact did not, nor did he ever set foot on the American continent. He was preceded by Leif Eiriksson by some 500-years and Leif may not have been the first, either. We will never know for certain.

I write novels about the medieval Greenland Norse people. Little substantiated information exists about them, because they wrote nothing down. Except for some facility with the runic alphabet of the time, I think they were illiterate. There are many historical gaps where I can portray daily events with fiction, i.e. - my own opinion of the unknown aspects of their history. Some of their history was recorded in sagas as long as 200-years after the events they portray, by writers who knew nothing about the subject people; the tales they tell are hearsay, folklore if you will. Although the sagas do give us a sense of the life of the times in which they were written the stories themselves cannot be verified.

All of history has been written by the bystanders. “The men who make history have not time to write it.” Metternich
It is human nature to embellish facts to increase individual participation or to reinforce opinion. I am doing that with this article. Memoirs written long after the events they portray are also a case in point. Embellishment is not dishonest, exactly, unless it is a lie and there are lots of those. Two generations of the youth of the major combatants of World War II have not been taught of the actual parts their country’s played in the conflict—the facts have been intentionally distorted. It is more palatable that way; ignorance is bliss, so to speak.

This brings me to archaeology. While archaeology has provided many windows into ancient civilizations and much terrific work has been, and continues to be done in the field, an overactive imagination is a prerequisite for success. Granted I am a layman, but I have had more than a passing association with the discipline through my years of research on the Viking Age and specifically the Greenland Norse people. Archaeology can, and has built entire civilizations on piles of rocks and scattered ruins, even to the point that the daily dress and thought processes of the ancient peoples are detailed—all of this in the absence of a single corroborating written word from the antecedents. These flights of fancy continue to the present day. The accepted dogma becomes so sacrosanct that to dare to make mention of a differing opinion will ensure the end of one’s career. Since I am not constrained by such, I am not cowed in any fashion.

Greenland was settled by the Norse during the height of the Medieval Warm Period and gradually abandoned during the next natural climate cycle, the Mini-Ice Age. William W. Fitzhugh, Vikings The North Atlantic Saga (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 2000) 330.
The medieval Norse settlers of Greenland disappeared from history after about 400 odd years. They went somewhere, leaving little behind, no ships, tools, and more importantly, no bodies. Those are the facts of the matter. Nobody knows what happened to them, not even the archaeologists. Nobody is even certain when the settlers disappeared. Many of us who are interested believe that they gradually assimilated with the natives of North America and the Arctic. Ellesmere - Vikings in the Far North, Peter Schledermann, 1977-1980. Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, William Fitzhugh and Elizabeth Ward, (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 2000)248-256.

I believe that the Mini-Ice Age prompted mass human migration on a vast scale that altered population locations of many of the indigenous people in the Arctic and on the North American continent. As the winter weather worsened the natives in the northern climes followed the animals on which they subsisted, they had no choice. This mass migration theory has been largely ignored because it is impossible to prove. Native language groups are the only certain indicator of homogenous relationships—a common origin. One such example would be the Athapaskan, or Athabaskan linguistic group, with origins in eastern Canada. The Navajo and Apache Indians of the American southwest belong to this group. The inference here should be obvious to all but the most obtuse individual—one who accepts without question the associated dogma of conventional archaeology. With the end of the Mini-Ice Age sometime in the 18th century, many of the northern dwelling indigenous peoples had been displaced from their ancestral homelands by a natural climate change cycle, some for generations, others forever.

“History is nothing but a pack of tricks that we play upon the dead.” Voltaire
And so, historically speaking, the Greenland Norse people did not disappear, they are still here. Over the past 1000-years their progeny became so mixed and commingled with the pre-historical ancestors of the North American Indians as to become invisible.

***

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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Historical Perspective of the Greenland Vikings(3)

3 - Had the Northmen been more amicable toward the people they initially contacted, a very different early history for North America might have resulted. Instead, the sagas tell us they cheated in trade, killed the natives indiscriminately, and eventually had them so incensed that a state of war existed, making all attempts at settlement impossible. At least that is the presently accepted theory among academics.

By today’s standards, the Northmen were a cruel and savage nationality. The Dark Ages, in which they existed and became a force with which to be reckoned, was a period of eight hundred years of almost continuous warfare. The Northmen were some of the most accomplished warriors of that violent time.

The native tribes they came in contact with seemed to tolerate their presence better when the Northmen came only to trade. Any attempt at permanent settlement - Hop, Straumfjord, and Leifsbudir - always led to violent confrontation.

This situation only existed initially. We know nothing about the remainder of the four hundred years of association between the Northmen and the people we now collectively refer to as Indians. And there most certainly was an association.

Greenlanders referred to the indigenous people of North America as Skraelings, generally thought to be an epithet, but the meaning is not known. We do not know whether Skraeling is a reference to the Tornit (pronounced Dornit) they contacted initially, the Inuit (Eskimo) who followed the Tornit later in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, or includes all the indigenous people they contacted.

Some believe that the Northmen interbred with the Inuit of Baffin Island and other groups of people in the far north, as tall, fair-skinned Inuit were reported by the next influx of explorers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This is not a fanciful contention at all when consideration is given to the fact that women were always in short supply. The lack of sufficient females caused many fights and blood feuds among the Northmen.

Farther south the Northmen contacted ancestors of several other Indian tribes. At some point approximately one thousand years ago the ancestors of Indian tribes we now identify as belonging to the Algonquian and Iroquoian language groups, e.g., Ojibwa, Cree, Huron, Mohawk, Iroquois, etc, began to emerge. Various tribal bands of these people occupied all the land from Hudson Bay, south to Lake Superior, and east to the Canadian Maritimes, the area in which this story takes place. They fought over the hunting grounds and ancestral lands annually, alternately claiming or losing lands as ongoing warfare involved subsequent generations.

We do not know what they called themselves one thousand years ago. It is believed by some that they referred to themselves simply as the People. Most still have a name in their language that translates to the People. I have endeavored to use their names for themselves, if we know it, or a diminutive of that name, throughout this novel.

The two known Norse Greenland colonies prospered into the late fifteenth century. The population eventually swelled to as many as four thousand people at any given time, spread among farms in the areas around these settlements.

At some point late in the fourteenth or early in the fifteenth century, all settlement attempts and trading voyages to Greenland from Iceland and other points to the east were abandoned. Sometime in the middle of the fourteenth century (Western Settlement), and just after the turn of the fifteenth century (Eastern Settlement), the Greenland populations disappeared without a trace.

Perhaps most of the inhabitants of the Greenland settlements had already moved west having migrated to successful settlements already established by other Northmen with the native populations of North America over the ensuing years.

In any case, I maintain they eventually gave up the sea. Like thousands of their compatriots in Europe, they settled ashore. All impetus and desire for undertaking the perilous voyages became a thing of the distant past.

Around 1450, winters became colder in the far north, a lot colder. The ice in the harbors and fjords began remaining well into summer, and then it just remained. Greenland became uninhabitable for the Northmen. The Medieval Warm Period ended. A mini–ice age gripped the Arctic and northern portions of North America for the next four hundred years, into the last half of the nineteenth century.

During the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, a Catholic Prelate voyaged to Greenland, ostensibly to check on his flock. Although a few domestic animals grazed the hillsides, he found no people, living or dead. No ships, supplies, or tools remained. The people and their possessions had simply vanished into the mists of time.

The Icelandic bishop Gisli Oddsson, quoting church records, stated in the sixteenth or seventeenth century (the exact date is unknown) that the Norse Greenlanders joined the natives of America in 1342, giving up Christianity in the process. The record notes a firm date for the migration, not sometime in the fourteenth century.

We know three things for certain if one considers the disappearance of these people objectively: They did not sail to Iceland or Europe; they did not remain on Greenland until they died of hunger or exposure; they did not simply disappear. No, they had been migrating slowly to North America for five hundred years. Assimilation with the indigenous peoples became, over time, the Norse Greenlanders’ only option for survival. It is the only logical answer to the one-thousand-year-old mystery.

Since their assimilation, almost everything the Northmen left behind on this continent has turned to dust, become locked under the permafrost, or disappeared under many feet of debris in the forests and along the seashores of North America.

I have attempted to tell a tale of what might have happened, what could have happened, and considering the options available, what probably did happen to the Norse Greenlanders.

More than 40–generations have elapsed since they came to this continent. Now their very existence, everything they accomplished, has faded from the collective memory of all the peoples they contacted and lived among.

I prefer to believe the four thousand live on however, their genetic makeup diluted by the intervening centuries of time. They are still here, smiling back at us from the faces of the Inuit Greenlanders, Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois with whom they joined so long ago.

***
This third installment ends the serialization of the Historical Perspective of the Greenland Vikings that appeared in the first book of Axe of Iron series, The Settlers. The original text with copious endnotes may be viewed on my website  under the Free Stuff button, for those readers with a scholarly interest in this topic.
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Historical Perspective of the Greenland Vikings (2)

The second installment follows:

2 - Leif Eiriksson wrote nothing down; we do not know what he called the settlement he constructed on Newfoundland. The sagas refer to the site as Leifsbudir, or Leif’s Booths.

The Norwegian Helge Ingstad, and his wife, Dr. Anne Stine Ingstad, an archeologist, discovered and excavated Leifsbudir between 1961 and 1968.

This momentous but oft–ignored discovery proves that Northmen were the first Europeans on the North American continent. They regularly sailed from Greenland to North America, Iceland, and Norway for more than four hundred years before Columbus was born.

Between 997 and 1002, Leif and his men completed construction of the houses and support buildings of Leifsbudir, at the head of the small bay where he landed. The buildings were not temporary huts, but permanent all-weather structures.

According to the Norse sagas, Leifsbudir was one of at least three permanent settlements built and utilized by Greenlanders and Icelanders. The other settlements referred to in the sagas, Hop (meaning tide pools), and Straumfjord (meaning stream fjord), have never been located.

Greenlanders used three place names, attributable to Leif Eiriksson, to describe areas where they landed: Helluland (Flat Stone Land) believed to be Baffin Island; Markland (Wood Land) most likely heavily wooded Labrador; and Vinland meaning and exact location unknown—a general area, not a specific place.

Given the Northmen’s propensity for exploration, as well as the need to constantly find new hunting grounds, it is safe to assume they also explored much of the northeastern coast of North America and made forays into the interior. Like the natives they encountered, they hunted and traded. Their simple lifestyle left no sign of their passage.

Norse artifacts have been found on the south shore of Ungava Bay in Hudson Strait, the western and eastern shores of Hudson Bay itself, Baffin Island, Labrador, Newfoundland Island, and many other sites in the Canadian North. A Norse penny recently turned up in Maine, and a rune stone was unearthed in Minnesota during the latter portion of the nineteenth century.

Norse artifacts have been found as far inland as the state of Oklahoma. With the exception of the Norse penny found in Maine, archeologists continue to disagree about the authenticity of all other Norse artifacts discovered in the United States.

The Norse Greenlanders, primarily livestock farmers and hunters, were also warriors by nature and necessity and fully capable of defending themselves against all comers. The indigenous people they encountered as they explored were numerically superior. Weaponry was similar enough that the outcome of protracted armed conflict tended not to favor the Northmen.

Not surprisingly, the natives were friendly and anxious to trade in the beginning. After all, they had no reason to dislike their Norse visitors; they had never seen one before.

To be continued...
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Axe of Iron: Confrontation

The second book of the Axe of Iron series, Confrontation, is in the publication process now. Initial release through my distributor, AtlasBooks, is scheduled to be in January 2010.



The storyline:

In Confrontation, two calamitous events occur that pave the way for the hostile beginnings of an assimilation process between the Greenland Norse settlers and the natives of Vinland. The first mixing of cultures occurs when a woman of the Northmen, Thora, and Deskaheh the Haudenosaunee, marry. This union, accepted enthusiastically by the Northmen, opens a window into the native mind.

For all the people of this land the way is rocky and fraught with danger at every turn, but the acceptance and friendship that develops between the Northmen and the Naskapi, another native tribe, over an affair of honor, the eventual acceptance of a young boy of the Northmen by his Haudenosaunee captors, and a scenario that seems ordained by the will of the gods, makes it all begin to fall into place, as it must for the Northmen to survive.

Will this developing relationship allow the Northmen to remain in the homeland of the Naskapi, or are they doomed to failure? The settlers must deal with that question on a daily basis.

Standing in their way are uncounted numbers of indigenous peoples, the pre-historical ancestors of the contemporary Cree (Naskapi), Ojibwa (Anishinabeg), and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians. From the outset, the warriors of these various tribes violently resisted the incursion of the tall, pale-skinned invaders. The overwhelming numbers of the native peoples in Vinland hold the fate of the Northmen in their hands. The success or failure of the settlement at Halfdansfjord hangs in the balance.
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The Medieval Greenland Vikings Can Teach Us About Climate Change

I wrote this article in May 2008. Now that Al Gore's climate change hoax has been exposed for what it has always been - a pack of lies for monetary gain - I am running the article again because it cut to the chase when I wrote it, and it still does today.
The article also ran on P-19, of the Scandinavian Press, Spring 2009 issue, if you'd like to check that out.
***
The Northern Hemisphere of this planet is in a normal warming cycle. It began to manifest itself as the preceding cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800), wound down about the mid-19th century. Nothing in global climate happens overnight. Each cycle is of about 500-years duration. With that assumption, we can say that the midpoint of this warming cycle that we are enjoying will be about 2100. In other words, we can expect the climate to gradually trend toward warmer and dryer for the next 92-years. Then it might get worse, historically speaking that is. At the same time, there will be periodic cycles of colder, wetter weather in parts of the globe that have never experienced such in living memory.

The advent of the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300) gave rise to the Viking Age (793-1150).The warmer weather increased production of everything the Vikings ate. Populations among the Viking tribes burgeoned dramatically. This eventually led to thoughts of expansion and conquest; the norm throughout human history. The ice-locked fjords began to clear earlier in the season than normal. The length of the raiding and trading season continued to increase over the 500-year period of the Medieval Warm Period. The Vikings exploded out over the north and western Atlantic Ocean, settling Iceland, Greenland, and areas of northeastern North America. The five hundred years of comparatively benign weather during the Medieval Warm Period fostered the Viking Age. Earth's next weather cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800), played a major roll in ending it, especially for isolated--from the homeland--Norse Greenland. The Greenland Norse lifestyle could not be maintained in the face of Climate Change and a changing environment--starvation loomed. Of all the single-cause explanations for the death of Norse Greenland, Climate Change has been the most durable. (Thomas McGovern, Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, The Demise of Norse Greenland, 2000-Smithsonian Institution, 330-331.)

Now, if the present global Climate Change cycle - Global Warming - is our responsibility, you know carbon offsets, CO2, and whatnot, if we caused this calamity, how do you explain the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300)? It was warmer in the Northern Hemisphere then than it is now. Perhaps the Vikings, the Greenland Norse people whom I write about caused it with their peat fires, flatulent livestock, and whatnot. Sounds ridiculous, huh? It is ridiculous. They had nothing more to do with their natural planetary climate cycle then, than we do with ours today. Remember, all of this climate stuff has happened before. It has been happening for 18,000-years that we know about.

The sun and the oceans working in concert control the weather on this planet. Without this synergy, much of the inhabited areas of the northern and southern hemispheres would be uninhabitable. Simplistically speaking, the sun transmits most of its solar radiation to the earth along the equatorial belt, heating the oceans of the world and setting up out flowing currents that emanate north and south from the equator. At the same time, cold water from the Polar Regions sinks to the ocean floor establishing a flow pattern in the direction of the equator as they under ride the warm water flowing on the surface. Therefore, under ideal conditions a massive exchange of hot water from the equator and cold water from the poles occurs, giving us hominids the benign weather conditions that we enjoy over much of this planet.All of this circulation occurs automatically because of the forces at play, hydrodynamics in other words. With Climate Change, the dynamics change. British scientists have reported that the warm water currents flowing toward northwestern Europe have declined by 30% since the 1950's. There also appears to be a 50% reduction in the amount of cold water flowing from the poles. Computer models of this dynamic predict that the North Atlantic current will cease to exist in 50-100 years. National Geographic News, James Owen, November 30, 2005. The same article points to the fact that the melting Arctic and Antarctic ice is diluting the salt water of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The dynamic of circulation dependent on sinking cold water flowing south from the North Pole, or north from the South Pole, to bring the warm water of the equatorial seas north and south, is stalling as a result. This fact will make the northern and southern hemisphere much colder within the next 50-100 years.

Now there are six billion of us, give or take. The fastest growing populations have the least: they are deficit societies. People in Africa--all of the continent--the Indian sub-continent, much of continental Asia, Asia Minor, much of South and Central America, all of Mexico, every island in the Caribbean--well, you get the picture. Like rats or lemmings, we are positioning ourselves for disaster on a scale that defies comprehension. Can we feed the world, save the disenfranchised? NO! In the final analysis why would we? Our survival would be compromised. Shortages are like a snowball rolling down a hill, they are cumulative. Food shortages will translate to less food to send to feed the populations of all the undeveloped countries that we already support, because they cannot feed themselves; we will keep what we have for ourselves; and nature will take its course with them-they will begin to starve.

Entrepreneurs and scientists are playing the well-meaning, misinformed, easily manipulated, masses of earthlings like the proverbial banjo. Why, you might ask? Because the politics of human-caused global warming offer enormous profit potential.

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/ ©2009 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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The Medieval Greenland Viking Association with Pre-historical Indian Tribes of North America

Between 986 and 1425, the generally accepted longevity of the medieval Norse settlements on the island of Greenland, a gradual assimilation process began with the native peoples of the Arctic and present-day North America that culminated in the disappearance from history of all 4000 of the Norse settlers. What happened to them has been a source of contention ever since-nobody knows to this day. We know three aspects of their disappearance with fair certainty: they did not die out, they did not voyage back to Europe, and they did not simply disappear. A process of gradual assimilation had existed with the Thule people of Baffin and Ellesmere Islands, in the Canadian Arctic, since the early years of the Greenland settlements. It only made sense to join with the people who already knew how to survive in this harsh new land. This assimilation process no doubt continued with other native populations further south throughout the following centuries. Those who remained on Greenland to the end finally had no choice but to migrate or face slow starvation as the Mini-Ice Age descended on the North Country. Common sense would indicate they went to North America as it is the nearest land mass from the two Norse settlements on southwestern Greenland and they already had a familiarity developed through long association.

European explorers from the 16th through 19th centuries reported seeing blue-eyed blond and redheaded people living with the natives of the Canadian Arctic early in the period. Later in the period, four different expeditions found the same situation along the river systems of the central United States, stating in their journals that certain tribes appeared to be of mixed white and native origin. These explorers also reported practices among those tribes of mixed blood completely out of keeping with what they had noted among other tribes that did not appear to be of mixed blood. We have known of these mysteries for two to four centuries, but no investigation has undertaken to provide positive proof of where the white blood originated.

I am writing a five volume series that specifically speaks, in a character-driven, historical fiction sense, to some of the mysteries and legends surrounding the Indian people of southeastern Canada and the north central United States and the possibility of a deep-seated association with the Greenland Vikings. The first book of the series, Axe of Iron: The Settlers was published in August 2008. The next book, Axe of Iron: Confrontation is in the publication process at this writing. Both of these books take place in the Canadian province of Quebec more than 1000-years ago. My series present a plausible answer to many native customs and beliefs that could only have developed through a close association with the Norse Greenland settlers. Space herein precludes my going into the details of my contention in this regard, but my continuing series covers most, if not all, of what a lifetime of research on the subject has revealed to me. Contentions are opinions and mine are no different. I cannot prove any of it, but nobody can disprove it either and therein lie the bones of a good story.

I believe that you will find that I have offered plausible explanations to many of the questions left unanswered by conventional archaeology. My series is not a dry history of these events; rather it is an intensely engaging story of what may have happened on the North American continent during pre-historical time between the indigenous natives and a large, mixed group of Greenland Norse people whose goal was to survive during a most difficult time in history. The characters carry the story and you will see it through their eyes.

The Historical Perspective in the first book of the series, Axe of Iron – The Settlers provides historical data to support the basis of my contentions about what may have happened in southern Quebec and areas of the north central United States 1000-years ago. The last two paragraphs of the Historical Perspective probably sum it up best: more than 40 – generations have elapsed since they came to this continent. Now their very existence, everything they accomplished, has faded from the collective memory of all the peoples they contacted and lived among. I prefer to believe the 4000 live on however, their genetic makeup diluted by the intervening centuries of time. They are still here, smiling back at us from the faces of the Inuit Greenlanders, Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois with whom they joined so long ago.

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/ ©2009 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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Medievalists Review of Axe of Iron: The Settlers

The latest review of the historical fiction novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, may be seen on the Medievalists website.

Axe of Iron: The Settlers is the first book of the continuing Axe of Iron series of tales about a medieval people whose lives are surprisingly like ours. They have the same basic desires for happiness, love, food, and shelter that has dominated the thoughts of generations of cultures the world over. These character-driven, historical fiction books tell of the adventures of Greenland Vikings as they struggle to establish a settlement in North America in the face of hostile native opposition.
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My Article In Scandinavian Press

Eiriksfjord Greenland


Scandinavian Press, Spring 2009, featured my climate change article on Page -19.



"WHY THE MEDIEVAL GREENLAND VIKINGS CAN TEACH US ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE"



The article pretty well puts to bed the crap being shovelled by Al Gore and all the other agenda and profit-driven proponents of human-caused global climate change.


While you are at it go to my website and glean some information on my Axe of Iron series of historical fiction novels about the medieval Greenland Vikings and how they dealt with climate change issues 1000-years ago on the North American continent.


















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AtlasBooks Interview of Author J. A. Hunsinger

If you are interested in the Axe of Iron series of historical fiction novels about the Greenland Vikings - you must be or you would not be reading this - the title link interview will answer questions that you may have about the premise behind my books on the subject.



My book distributor, AtlasBooks, Ashland, OH wrote this interview in January 2009. Granted that was some time ago, but the content of the interview is one of the best coverages that has been done to date.



Unanswered questions about my books may also be directed to me personally.
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The Story Behind the Book

In 986 about five hundred medieval Norse people settled the island of Greenland. Over the five hundred year history of the two known settlements on the island’s southwestern coast the population increased to as many as four thousand people. We know little about the people or their settlements because they wrote nothing down for posterity. All we know about them comes to us from the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Eirik the Red, both written about two centuries after the facts they pretend to convey. In about the mid-fifteenth century they abandoned their last remaining settlement, Eiriksfjord. Wherever they went, they took their ships, tools, and every useful item they possessed. Nobody knows their destination for they left not a clue. Their disappearance is the premise for my Axe of Iron series.

Axe of Iron: The Settlers is a character-driven, historical fiction novel, the first of a five book continuing series about the Greenland Norse people. The series tells a fictional tale about what I believe happened to them based on my extensive research over the years. Although the people I write about share the Viking heritage with their European counterparts, when they sailed to Greenland and North America in the tenth and eleventh centuries they were no longer Vikings in the strict sense of the word and I do not refer to them as such.

The unknown aspects of their disappearance gives me the opportunity to use fiction to tell a tale about them that answers many of the questions about certain North American Indian tribes who exhibited characteristics, customs, and mannerisms that early explorers—eighteenth century—attributed to pre-historical European contact. The dates when these facts came to light reinforce my contention that the European contact alluded to could only have been the Greenland Norse people. My series will deal, in a fictional sense, with why tribal members of some pre-historical Indian tribes looked like white people, had customs like white people—including religious beliefs—were completely different from other tribes encountered, and welcomed the earliest white explorers with open arms.

The Greenland Norse did not disappear; they assimilated with the pre-historical North American Indians that they encountered. I believe this assimilation process was well underway by the early years of the eleventh century in the Canadian Arctic and moved south as the Medieval Warm Period gave way to the onslaught of the Mini-Ice Age. This natural climate cycle caused native peoples— including the last holdouts of Greenland Norse people remaining in Eiriksfjord—to migrate with the animals on which they subsisted.

Conventional brick and mortar archaeologists have largely ignored this controversial aspect of our pre-historical past. The path to discovery remains blurred by the passage of one thousand years of time. There are no ruins or pyramids to create entire cultures around, and few artifacts to discover. The presence of the Greenland Norse people on this continent is but an echo from the dim past, but it is here nonetheless.

Scientists have found Norse DNA in Greenland and Baffin Island Inuit people. If somebody will look, perhaps Norse DNA will be found in members of contemporary Indian tribes in northeastern and north central North America. Only then will we know their fate.

***

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2009 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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The Reason For My Interest In The Vikings

I am an avid reader of both history texts and historical fiction novels. Written history has many holes, gaps if you will, that give an author an endless supply of fodder. It is natural for me to tell stories about subjects in which I have an interest. The Greenland Vikings and the Viking culture in general have always been my focus.

Axe of Iron: The Settlers is my first novel. It is a character-driven, historical fiction book. My characters tell the story and the reader sees the events through their eyes. I have had a lifelong interest in the medieval Norse people. That interest has become focused on the five hundred year history of the Norse Greenland settlements. The mystery surrounding the abandonment of the two known settlements and the disappearance of every single person living therein has captured my imagination.

Years of research has led me to believe that they did not disappear, rather they assimilated with the natives of North America. My series of books tell a plausible tale in support of that contention. No other author has ever treated the subject the way I have.



J. A. Hunsinger–Author, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2009 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved
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Book Review - Axe of Iron: The Settlers

The most recent book review of Axe of Iron: The Settlers has been posted on the Medievalists Website.

Read what the Canadian reviewer, Sandra Alvarez thinks of this epic historical fiction novel.
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Axe of Iron: Confrontation--Progress Report

For all you fans of medieval Greenland Vikings, the second book in the Axe of Iron series, Axe of Iron: Confrontation nears completion.

Ten chapters have been edited, with five remaining. The final chapters should go in for the first edit by the end of September. After that, the manuscript goes to the printer for a final edit, formatting, proofreading, etc.

If we are lucky the release date should be just before Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed, I am.
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Balancing Novel Writing and Promoting

Writing and promotion of a writer's work are each full-time jobs, especially when you are a one-man-show. I have been promoting the first novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, so the second novel, Axe of Iron: Confrontation has suffered as a consequence.

The cast of characters in my historical fiction series, Axe of Iron, alluded me, lurking indistinct in the shadows, almost pouting because of my absence, until I brought them forward again from where I had left them four months ago.

It is difficult to get back into the story after such a period of time away. A writer must re-read what has been written--fourteen chapters in my case--and try to reengage. I have done that, finally, and the manuscript for the second book of my series, Axe of Iron: Confrontation will be edited again and released this Fall as planned.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of my series about the disappearance of the Greenland Vikings, visit my website for details.
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A Week of Composition

This week will be spent exclusively on composition, in the hopes that the second novel of the Axe of Iron series, Confrontation, can be completed for the publication process. I will not return to this blog until this time next week, or so.
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Right to Keep and Bear Arms

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson
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SIX STATE BOOK PROMOTION TOUR COMPLETED

Our six-State road trip to promote Axe of Iron: The Settlers ended yesterday. We visited many small and medium sized towns in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska. Our efforts were well received and I hope sales results in the coming months bear that out.
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Vacation Time

Vacation time, no posts until after 20 July.

"Crime is a product of social excess." Lenin

Certainly apropos these days.

Happy 4th!
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Writing

I am working to finish the ms of the second book of my Axe of Iron series, Axe of Iron: Confrontation. Drop by my website for details on this exciting historical fiction series about the mysterious disappearance of the Greenland Norse settlers.
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Reviews and Press Releases are Posted

See all the latest reviews and press releases for the Axe of Iron series of historical fiction novels about the medieval Greenland Vikings settlement of North America in the face of hostile opposition.

Book #2, Axe of Iron: Confrontation will be released soon. Read the excerpt and learn all about it on the Vinland Publishing, LLC website.
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The Final Edit

"The most original authors are not so because they advance what is new, but because they put what they have to say as if it had never been said before." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

And, that is what I try to do each day.

The final edit of Axe of Iron: Confrontation, the second book of the Axe of Iron series, continues. I hope to have the manuscript to the printers by July 1st. This blog will suffer until I achieve that end.
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To Conjure, or not to Conjure

"I have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up."
Mark Twain
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Axe of Iron: of Times Medieval

A day of composition is at hand: I will abide in times medieval with the characters of my Axe of Iron series of historical fiction novels about the Greenland Vikings and their assimilation with the pre-historical natives of Canada and northern portions of the USA.
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Greenland Vikings - Axe of Iron: Confrontation

Composition is the watchword today. I must wrap up the second novel in the Axe of Iron series, Axe of Iron: Confrontation for publication.

If you have an interest in this epic series about medieval Greenland Vikings settling among the pre-historical natives of Canada and the north central USA, click on one of the links to read an excerpt from the book. The cover image is displayed in the sidebar.
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Author Featured in the Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times has author J. A. Hunsinger and his Axe of Iron series of medieval historical fiction books featured in their Entertainment section, both online and in the print edition of the newspaper.

How neat is that?
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Interview of Author J. A. Hunsinger on FictionScribe

An interesting interview has been posted on the FictionScribe blog of author J. A.Hunsinger and his Axe of Iron series of medieval historical fiction books.

Drop by and read all about this epic series of novels.
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The Book Connection

Cheryl, at The Book Connection, has a terrific guest post today of me and my novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers. Just click on this blog's title link to go there.

She has cleverly used embedded links to maximize a visitor's reading experience. My book trailer is featured at the end of the post; I like it and I hope you do as well.

Drop by and take a look.
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A New Day

Good morning, all. The face of the sun has risen over the Rockies to clear, cold skies—23° here this morning. Our storm has passed, a new day has begun.
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Book Spotlight, Axe of Iron: The Settlers

A Book Blogger's Diary has posted an excerpt from my novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers as well as other information about me and the Axe of Iron historical fiction series. Leaving a comment on this site will get you entered in a contest to win a FREE Virtual Book Tour from the PumpUpYourBook promotion.
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Interview of Author J. A. Hunsinger

Zensanity blog features an interview with J. A. Hunsinger, author of Axe of Iron: The Settlers, his first novel in the Axe of Iron series of medieval historical fiction novels about the Greenland Viking's adventures in a North America of 1000-years ago.

Drop by the Zensanity site and comment on the interview for an automatic entry in a contest to win a Virtual Book Tour or a $50.00 Amazon Gift Certificate.
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Book Review, Axe of Iron: The Settlers

Tracee Gleicher has a terrific review of my novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers on her blog, The View From Here. The title of this post links to her site.

Please take a moment out of your busy day to drop by her site, read her review, and leave your comments. This gesture will automatically enter you in a contest to win a Virtual Book Tour with Dorothy Thompson, or a $50.00 Amazon Gift Certificate. How can you lose?
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Book Market Buzz

I have an article of publishing tips for authors featured on the Book Marketing Buzz Wordpress blog website.

Drop by for a visit, leave a comment, or ask me a question about my novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, my Axe of Iron series in general, or independent publishing.
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Scandinavian Press Feature

The Spring 2009 issue of Scandinavian Press featured an article that I wrote, Why the Greenland Vikings Can Teach Us About Climate Change.

Check it out! I think you will find it interesting and/or controversial depending on your knowledge and position on the topic.
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Book #2 in the Axe of Iron Series

Axe of Iron: Confrontation, the second book of the adventure packed Axe of Iron series nears completion. Publication target date remains June 2009. An excerpt from this book, and other helpful information about my books, may be found under the 'Books' tab on my website.

You came here because of your interest in the medieval Vikings. Don't miss my past blogs on the subject.

Thank you for coming by.

Best Regards,
J. A. Hunsinger
Author
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The Story Behind the Book

In 986 several hundred medieval Norse people settled the island of Greenland. Over the five hundred year history of the two known settlements on the island's southwestern coast the population increased to as many as four thousand people. We know little about the people or the settlements because the people wrote nothing down for posterity. All we know about them comes to us from the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Eirik the Red, both written about two centuries after the facts they pretend to convey. In about the mid-fifteenth century the people abandoned their last remaining settlement, Eiriksfjord. Wherever they went, they took their ships, tools, and every useful item they possessed. Nobody knows their destination for they left not a clue. Their disappearance is the premise for my Axe of Iron series.

Everything that we know about these people, pertaining to their culture and disappearance, I have covered in detail in the Historical Perspective of my character-driven, historical fiction novel Axe of Iron: The Settlers. This is the first book of the continuing Axe of Iron series about the Greenland Norse people and what a lifetime of research has led me to believe happened to them.

My interest in the subject stems from the Norse and Germanic mythology I studied in school, my Swedish/German heritage, and the vexing question of the disappearance of four thousand people. I recognized early on that there are many people who are fascinated by the medieval Viking culture. Although the people I write about share that Viking heritage, when they sailed to Greenland and North America in the tenth and eleventh centuries they were no longer Vikings in the strict sense of the word and I do not refer to them as such.

The unknown aspects of their disappearance gives me the opportunity to use fiction to tell a tale about them that answers many of the questions about certain North American Indian tribes who exhibited characteristics, customs, and mannerisms that early explorers—eighteenth century—attributed to pre-historical European contact. The dates when these facts came to light reinforce my contention that the European contact alluded to could only have been the Greenland Norse people. My series will deal, in a fictional sense, with why tribal members of some pre-historical Indian tribes looked like white people, had customs like white people—including religious beliefs—were completely different from other tribes encountered, and welcomed the earliest white explorers with open arms.

The Greenland Norse did not disappear; they assimilated with the pre-historical North American Indians that they encountered. I believe this assimilation process was well underway by the early years of the eleventh century in the Canadian Arctic and moved south as the Medieval Warm Period gave way to the onslaught of the Mini-Ice Age. This natural climate cycle caused native peoples— including the last holdouts of Greenland Norse people remaining in Eiriksfjord—to migrate with the animals on which they subsisted.

Conventional brick and mortar archaeologists have largely ignored this controversial aspect of our pre-historical past. The path to discovery remains blurred by the passage of one thousand years of time. There are no ruins or pyramids to create entire cultures around, and few artifacts to discover. The presence of the Greenland Norse people on this continent is but an echo from the dim past, but it is here nonetheless.

Scientists have found Norse DNA in Greenland and Baffin Island Inuit people. If somebody will look, perhaps Norse DNA, haplogroup R1a1, will be found in members of contemporary Indian tribes in northeastern and north central North America. Only then will we know the fate of the Greenland Norse people.

As I wrote in the Historical Perspective of Axe of Iron: The Settlers,
more than 40–generations have elapsed since they came to this continent. Now their very existence, everything they accomplished, has faded from the collective memory of all the peoples they contacted.
I prefer to believe the four thousand live on however, their genetic makeup diluted by the intervening centuries of time. They are still here smiling back at us from the faces of the Inuit Greenlanders, Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois with whom they joined so long ago.


That is why I have a story to tell, a story as seen through the eyes of my characters.
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More Evidence-Greenland Vikings and Climate Change

During the summer of 2008, Knut Espen Solberg, of Norway, leader of the 'Melting Arctic' project, reported finding a heretofore uncharted Viking site farther north on Greenland than any discovered previously. http://www.archaeology.eu.com/weblog/2008_07_01_archaeologyeu_archive.html This find was made possible because of recent ice melt exposing areas of the beach normally covered in ice at all times of the year.


His team, which included an archaeologist who apparently made the initial assessment, found a large stone pier and stone buildings. His REUTERS report, 28JULY2008, is very interesting to me for two reasons. He made reference to (1)the climate of the medieval period and (2)the presence of the ruins of several stone dwellings nearby. The latter is of significance because he makes the statement that 'Both Inuit and Vikings had similar building styles.'


Now, this might be explained by saying that there are only so many ways to erect such a stone building, or, and this is my contention: the natives and Vikings were living together-they had assimilated. He also states that the natives were Inuit. The Inuit did not arrive on Greenland until late in the 12th century so the Viking's companions could have been Tornit (Tuniit), remnants of the Dorset culture. This question will be answered when the dwellings are positively dated by subsequent research.


I include a link to the quoted article for the interested reader: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20080728-0828-greenland-vikings.html as well as a bit about Solberg himself. http://nunatsiaq.com/archives/41224/news/features/41224_01.html It would seem that he leads a most interesting life.


By reading my previous blogs you will see that I, too, have made reference to these topics, so Solberg's find is of special importance to my writing: http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/ and research on the medieval Greenland Norse people.


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The Hype of Climate Change

The American Southwest, where I reside, has been in the throes of drought since about 1978. Certainly there have been years of normal - whatever that means - or greater moisture, but the trend is drought. The winter of 2007-2008 notwithstanding, we can expect the general climatic trend to continue.

The Northern Hemisphere of this planet is in a normal warming cycle. It began to manifest itself as the preceding cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800), wound down about the mid-19th century. However, the coldest period of the Mini-Ice Age were the years 1560-1850. You sharp readers will have noted that the year 1560 happens to coincide with the mid-point of the 500-year cycle, the year that the most intense cold began. Nothing in global climate happens overnight. Each cycle is of about 500-years duration. With that assumption we can say that the midpoint of this warming cycle that we are enjoying will be about 2100. In other words, historically speaking, we can expect the climate to gradually trend toward warmer and dryer for the next 92-years. Then it might get worse, historically speaking that is.

At the same time, some areas of the planet will become cooler and wetter for that is how it all works. You know, the ocean currents and the sun. Why, they may play and even larger part than we do. Think of it. It is mind-numbing, huh?

Now, if the global climate change cycle - Global Warming - is our responsibility, you know carbon offsets, CO2, and whatnot, if we caused this calamity, how do you explain the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300)?

It was warmer in the Northern Hemisphere then than it is now. Perhaps the Vikings, the Greenland Norse people whom I write about caused it with their peat fires, flatulent livestock, and whatnot. Sounds ridiculous, huh? It is ridiculous. They had no more to do with their natural planetary climate cycle then, than we do with ours today.

Entrepreneurs and scientists are playing the well-meaning, misinformed, easily-manipulated, masses of earthlings like the proverbial banjo. Why, you might ask? Because the politics of human-caused global warming offer enormous profit potential.

You are being scammed folks. How does it feel?
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Assimilation Between Greenland Norse and Arctic Natives?


Some of the many unanswered questions about the Greenland Norse: did they assimilate with the natives of the Canadian Arctic?

If so, when and with whom?

We can never know for certain, but by about 1425 all had disappeared from the Greenland settlements. As I have mentioned previously, they were not seen again. They disappeared: no bodies, no ships, no tools, nothing related to them has ever been found.

Two distinct Arctic native cultures are involved with the Greenland Norse, the Dorset, or Tuniit people, and later in about the 13th century, the Thule, or Inuit people migrating from what is now the western Canadian Arctic regions.

In support of my contention that a gradual process of assimilation with these native cultures of the Arctic. and the natives of North America, began early in the history of the Greenland Norse settlements I make reference to numerous Norse artifacts found in medieval Thule dwelling sites on the east coast of Ellesmere Island and Skraeling Island, at the head of Alexandra Fjord on Ellesmere's east coast.

I do not mean the odd spindle whorl, ship rivet, broken needle fragment, or a couple links of chain mail. There are too, many artifacts to list here: a complete carpenters plane, iron wedge, ship rivets, knife and spear blades, wool wadmal cloth, numerous pieces of chain mail(all thought to have a common origin), odd gaming pieces, and so forth. These artifacts have been carbon dated to the mid-13th century.
Ellesmere - Vikings in the Far North, Peter Schledermann, 1977-1980. Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, William Fitzhugh and Elizabeth Ward, (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 2000)248-256.

So, the answer to the question is obvious. The Greenland Norse did regularly contact the native peoples of the Arctic and that contact was prolonged and intimate, because the artifacts were found in Thule house ruins.

Those particular Norse people had already assimilated.
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
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