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The lost norse

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Science  11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6313, pp. 696-701
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6313.696

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Summary

The Norse lived in Greenland beginning in 985 C.E. and ending around 1450 C.E. But why they disappeared after that, with few clues as to their fate, has remained a mystery since. Now, new archaeological clues are painting a fresh picture of the Norse. Instead of a society focused on dairy farming, and poorly adapted for the Arctic climate, as previously thought, the new findings imply a community centered instead around hunting and trading. Precise new dates of settlement, established from large surveys of archaeological sites, show more centrally planned movement, bolstering the case for a communal hunting effort versus a loose federation of farm stands. Meanwhile, new finds of walrus ivory show that this valuable commodity may have driven the rise and fall of the community.

  • * in Tasilikulooq, in Greenland

    Reporting for this story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.