News of the WeekArchaeology

Hints of Frequent Pre-Columbian Contacts

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Science  05 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5467, pp. 783-785
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5467.783b

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Last week's opening of the Smithsonian Institution's exhibition, "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga," served to popularize the scientific evidence that the first contact between Europeans and Americans was not Columbus's voyage but Viking landfall in Newfoundland, thought to have occurred about A.D. 1000. And at a 2-day symposium, a Canadian archaeologist presented stunning new traces of the Norse on northern Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, at least 200 years before Columbus. Although not all her colleagues are convinced, the researcher argues that the evidence shows that in the Arctic, unlike in Newfoundland, the Norse had frequent and prolonged contact with aboriginal peoples--the first sustained close encounter of the Old World with the New.