Solar storm confirms Vikings settled in North America exactly 1,000 years ago

Eight timber-framed buildings, covered in sod, stood high above the Newfoundland island's northern tip. They were evidence that Columbus had crossed the Atlantic long before Columbus.
It was not clear when exactly the Vikings set out to establish the LAnse aux Meadows settlement.

New dating techniques that use a long-ago solarstorm as a reference point have revealed that the settlement was first occupied in AD1021, which is exactly one millennium and 471 years prior to Columbus's first voyage. Three pieces of wood were used to determine the year.

Multiple milestones were achieved by humanity through the Viking voyage. This settlement is the oldest-known evidence of transatlantic crossing. It is also the site where humans finally circled the globe, thousands of years after they crossed a land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska.

These northern Europeans deserve a lot of credit for being the first human society across the Atlantic, according to Michael Dee, a geoscientist at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The study was published in Nature on Wednesday.

The Vikings explored Europe, colonizing, trading and raiding. They were skilled in navigation and boat building and established settlements in Greenland and Iceland.

Dee stated that the trip was both a voyage to discover and a hunt for new raw materials. Many archaeologists believe that the main motivation behind their search for new territories was to find new timber sources. They likely left Greenland where it is very rare to find wood suitable for construction.

The Viking Age is typically defined as AD 793-1066. This gives a wide range of dates for the transatlantic crossing. Ordinary radiocarbon dating, which determines the age of organic materials using their radioactive isotopes of carbon, proved too inaccurate to date LAnse aux Meadows. It was found in 1960 but was widely believed to have been the 11th century.

New dating methods are based on the fact that solar storms create a distinct radiocarbon signal in trees' annual growth rings. In AD992, it was already known that there was a major solar storm, a burst high-energy cosmic radiations from the sun.

According to Margot Kuitems (University of Groningen archaeologist), 29 growth rings were found in all three wood pieces examined. This means that the wood was cut in 1021.

Dee stated that the wood was not cut by local indigenous people because evidence shows they had metal blades.

Dee stated that although the duration of the occupation is not known, it could have been less than a decade and that perhaps 100 Norse were present at any one time. They resembled Norse structures on Greenland or Iceland.

The Icelandic sagas, oral histories that were recorded in Iceland, depict the Viking presence in America. They are centuries old and describe Leif Erikson, a leader, and Vinland as a settlement. Also, the peaceful and violent interactions with local peoples including the capture of enslaved persons.

Dee stated that the 1021 date corresponds roughly to the saga accounts. He also said: This begs the question: How much of the rest are true?