The ancient Norse where the first immigrants of America

norse vikings in north america before 1492Nearly ten centuries ago, fearless and extreme Norse sailors had been roaming the seas with the desire for adventure and new treasure-laden discoveries. Nowadays, these warriors, known as Vikings, are not remarkable only by their excellent sailing skills, courage, and fighting, restless spirit, but also for their possible expedition in North America far before Christopher Colombo. The fact that Vikings had first discovered this continent and made their colonies there spawned highly-volatile debates between prominent historical experts. While it is well-known that the Vikings had fascinating sailing skills, which lent well to longer voyages due to their superior design put into their vessels. Their longboats were the best-constructed ships of that age.

Because of its’ long and narrow shape, and the bow decorated with the heads of the snakes or dragons, outside people who were not born of Norse decent called them 'Drakkar' (dragon ship) and the 'Snakker' (snake ship). When it comes to their skills, Vikings could quickly determine cardinal points without compass or map, even in foggy weather and during the shortened Scandinavian nights. It is worthy to mention likewise- that as they lived mainly in the wilderness, so nature was their primary 'assistant' through and though. For their ship navigation they used the Sun during the day, and polar star during the night, as well as some other instruments such as rare crystals that change color in front of the Sun even if it was cloudy.


Did Vikings set-up shop in record time?

Now after all this, if Vikings were famous because of their long voyages and the ability to sail across the rough seas, they were above all -peasants and stock breeders! That's why they used to roam the seas seeking for fertile soil to make their colonies and have enough food for their stock. Also, their expansions overseas are sometimes explained by the fact that Vikings searched for territories with extensive forests to collect enough timber for their shipbuilding. That's why regions of North America were probably the ideal place to set-up their colonies. Between the year 989 and 1020, Viking sailors, (probably about 90 men and women) embarked on the shores of Vinland (the Norse name for present-day Newfoundland territory). They built their numerous earthen huts which they used for living as well as for blacksmiths, making wool and repairing parts for their boats. During this period of colonization, Vikings not only tried to maintain their presence, but could successfully establish trade routes between their colonies in the "New World" and Europe.


And you thought Vikings were considered fearless?

Unlike Greenland, where they also made settlements earlier, Vikings probably didn't expect that the new land of North America was populated by any other kind of tribes or people as they found with Greenland and Iceland. So when the first Viking boats arrived, natives who lived in Vinland didn't have such a warm welcome for these new guests. Skraelings (which was the Norse name for American Indians) who lived there, were armored very well for that time period too! They believed that every stranger on their land is just an intruder, so they occasionally organized attacks on Norse settlements.

Since the Vikings faced the threat of attack every day, they left their settlements in this area for these obvious reasons. Despite this, it was through another tribe of natives from the Helluland (present-day Buffin Island, Canada) that made neighborly-like contact with the Vikings and found it beneficial to participate in trade with their new guests, since Vikings had a lot of materials to offer. That’s how Vikings had supplied Europe with luxurious Arctic goods from Helluland. These included fur from otter, walrus ivory, leather produced from the polar bears, and much more. In return, they could offer to natives wood and metal scraps which were likewise valuable. These items was indeed further proof that Vikings had imported items which would not have been available any other way due to the distances involved.


Are they still searching for answers?sailing to north america in a norse ship

The third region that Vikings explored is so called Markland which means 'land of wood' in Old Norse, was placed on present-day Labrador. Since there is no trace of their settlements in this area, archeologists assumed that they used it just for collecting timber. Even though, Norsemen abandoned those territories probably due to a few reasons. Climate changes had occurred during the ‘Little Ice Age’ which brought-on severe winters unbearable even for Vikings! Apart from the difficulties to survive and overcome food shortages, the trade routes between these territories and Europe had frozen-over and made traffic totally impossible after that. Archeologists are in constant search for new pieces of evidence of Norse settlements in North America; this research is still a great mystery because it could change the course of American history as we know it. This controversial topic is still a subject of debate, as well as a big question for historical and archaeological researchers. Whatever is the real truth, nobody can deny that Norse civilization put great effort into the contribution of our world's history.