On Friday, researchers announced that they may have found new evidence of a former Viking settlement in North America.
The Vikings were a seafaring group from Scandinavia that sailed around the world, raiding and pillaging along the way, about 1,000 years ago.
The discovery of this second site, more than 50 years after the first was uncovered, could ultimately lead to a better understanding of Viking activity in North America.
For more details, check out NOVA’s “Vikings Unearthed,” a two-hour PBS documentary airing at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, or watch it online.
To make her discovery, Sarah Parcak, a space archaeologist who recently won a $1-million TED prize to start a global project, used satellites to get a look at structures buried beneath the ground’s surface. Parcak and her research team provided Business Insider with some of the images from the excavation. Take a look:
The new site is about 300 miles south of the only other known North American Viking site, called L'Anse aux Meadows. The red box around the southwest corner shows the approximate area.
Parcak and her team used satellites to determine possible new sites. 'What's amazing about satellites, is that they don't just process the visual part of the light spectrum, but when we process the data, all of a sudden we start seeing really subtle detail -- it's just amazing new technology,' Parcak said in a NOVA video clip.
The Vikings, a seafaring group from Scandinavia that travelled around the world a millennium ago, kept different lifestyle habits than the native people of North America, especially in the way they made iron tools (including swords of course). The team excavated certain areas for signs of turf structures, or evidence of iron production.
Apart from the satellites, which picked up on magnetic fields, the researchers also used magnetometers, which identify those fields and their directions, to search for possible excavation sites.
Apart from the satellites, which also picked up on magnetic fields, the researchers also used magnetometers, which are tools that also identify magnetic fields and their directions, to search for possible excavation sites.
And they were successful: Parcak and her team picked up signs of iron, which the Vikings used in everyday life, especially to repair their ships. This lump of bog iron, a type of iron that is found in bogs or swamps would have been roasted by the Vikings before being smelted into a form that could be used. By analysing the way the iron was made, the researchers could determine that it could not be connected to any other group living in the area at the time.
To roast the iron ore, the Vikings would cut pieces of turf, that would be used to fuel the fires, which is why the researchers were also looking for evidence of this 'turf-cutting.'
If the site is confirmed to be related to Vikings, it could suggest that other points further inland in North America exist as well. 'Either it's … an entirely new culture that looks exactly like the Norse and we don't know what it is,' Parcak told The Washington Post, 'or it's the westernmost Norse site that's ever been discovered.'
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