In 1960, researches found a Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, which is located on the northern end of the island of Newfoundland, today known as the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The discovery served as evidence that the Vikings had entered parts of North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, the great explorer Leif Ericson established a Norse settlement in North America named Vinland around the year 1000.
Vinland is also mentioned in the work of Adam of Bremen in (1075) and in the Book of Icelanders compiled in 1122 by Ari the Wise. According to the books, North America was spotted around the year 986 by Bjarni Herjolfsson, who was blown off course on a exploration trip from Iceland to Greenland. It was precisely his stories that caught the attention of Leif Ericson.
In 1957, news that the Vinland map really exists were released to the public. It is claimed to be a 15th-century world map that holds unique and priceless information about the early Norse exploration of America. In addition to showing Asia, Africa, and Europe, the map depicts a landmass located southwest of Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean. It was called Vinland. The discovery shocked historians who then tried to explain the origins of the map. The parchment of the Vinland map shows a representative date of somewhere between 1423 and 1445.
In the next deacade, it was announced that a chemical analyses of the map showed ink ingredients from the 20th-century. More specifically, the presence of anatase, which is a synthetic pigment used since the 1920s, however, natural anatase has been found in various Mediaeval manuscripts and documents. The situation became even more difficult because of the fact that the map was coated with an unknown substance in the 1950s, possibly created by nuclear tests on the document.
The Vinland map seems to depict Greenland as an island with a remarkably close representation of the real shape and orientation. However, Norway is depicted very inaccurately. The map also shows an area that may represent Japan. It seems to not only show Honshu, but also Hokkaido and Sakhalin, which were omitted even in Oriental maps from the 15th century.
Many historians believe that the map might be a copy of one developed by Italian sailor, Andrea Bianco in the 1430s. Some have placed the land of Vinland as far south as New England or Rhode Island.
This might be the first map in the world to show North America. It seems that we need to rethink our history, because the world was already explored way earlier than we believe. It’s interesting to note that recent discoveries suggest even ancient Romans have reached America. Even if the Vinland map is a forgery, there is no doubt that Vikings traveled to America hundreds of years before Western Europeans.