The new Thor movie is now reaching theaters. So this is obviously the right time to think about the Viking discovery of America. A while back, I wrote on the controversial Vinland Map:
Generations of scholars have trusted the fundamentals of the Norse sagas recounting these exploits. In the early 1960s, the Norwegian writer Helge Ingstad delivered archaeological corroboration when he uncovered the remains of a small Viking settlement at the northern tip of Newfoundland. It probably wasn’t Vinland because there are no grapes in Newfoundland. Yet it offered proof that Bjarni and Leif weren’t imaginary characters invented by helmeted bards for mead-hall entertainment.
Soon after Ingstad’s discovery, Yale University made its own blockbuster announcement: It had purchased a previously unknown map, older than Columbus, depicting the lands that Ericson had explored. One Yale librarian called the map more precious than the school’s original Gutenberg Bible.
But was it?