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Vinland map

Vinland map

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The Vinland map is claimed to be a 15th century mappa mundi
Mappa mundi
Mappa mundi is a general term used to describe medieval European maps of the world. These maps range in size and complexity from simple schematic maps an inch or less across to elaborate wall maps, the largest of which was 11 ft. in diameter...

 with unique information about Norse exploration of America
Norse colonization of the Americas
The Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic, including the northeastern fringes of North America....

. It is very well known because of the publicity campaign which accompanied its revelation to the public as a "genuine" pre-Columbian map in 1965. In addition to showing Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the map depicts a landmass south-west of Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 in the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 labelled as Vinland
Vinland
Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

; the map describes this region as having been visited by Europeans in the 11th century. Although it was presented to the world in 1965 with an accompanying scholarly book written by British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 and Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 librarians, historians of geography and medieval document specialists began to suspect that it might be a fake as soon as photographs of it became available, and chemical analyses have identified one of the major ink ingredients as a 20th century artificial pigment. However, individual pieces of evidence continue to be challenged, .

Known history



The Vinland Map first came to light in 1957 (three years before the discovery of the Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland...

 in 1960), bound in a slim volume with a short medieval text called the Hystoria Tartarorum (usually called in English the Tartar Relation), and was unsuccessfully offered to the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 by London book dealer Irving Davis on behalf of a Spanish-Italian dealer named Enzo Ferrajoli de Ry. Shortly afterwards, Ferrajoli sold the volume, for $3,500, to American dealer Laurence C. Witten II, who offered it to his alma mater, Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

. It was initially treated with suspicion, partly because wormholes in the Map and the Relation did not match. In spring 1958, however, Witten's friend Thomas Marston, a Yale librarian, acquired from London book dealer Irving Davis a dilapidated medieval copy of volume 3 of Vincent of Beauvais
Vincent of Beauvais
The Dominican friar Vincent of Beauvais wrote the Speculum Maius, the main encyclopedia that was used in the Middle Ages.-Early life:...

's encyclopedic Speculum historiale ("Historical Mirror"), which turned out, amazingly, to be the missing link; the wormholes showing that it had formerly had the Map at its beginning and the Relation at its end. All traces of former ownership marks, except for a small part of a bright pink stamp which overlapped the writing on folio 223 of the Speculum, had been removed, perhaps to avoid tax liability for the former owner (although as historian Kirsten Seaver noted many years later, stamps on random book pages indicate institutional, not private ownership).

Unable to afford the asking price, and concerned that, ostensibly because of the former private owner's tax concerns, Witten refused to reveal the provenance
Provenance
Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object. The term was originally mostly used for works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing...

 of the Map, Yale contacted another alumnus, Paul Mellon
Paul Mellon
Paul Mellon KBE was an American philanthropist, thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder. He is one of only five people ever designated an "Exemplar of Racing" by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame...

, who agreed to buy it (for a price later stated to be about $300,000) and donate
Charitable contribution
Charitable contribution deductions for United States Federal Income Tax purposes are defined in section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code as contributions to or for the use of certain nonprofit enterprises. See...

 it to the university if it could be authenticated. Recognizing its potential importance as the earliest map to show America, Mellon insisted that its existence be kept secret until a scholarly book had been written about it. Even the three authors of the book were chosen from among the small number of people who had seen the Map before Mellon bought it—two British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 curators and Marston. Only one of them, Dr. Raleigh Ashlin Skelton
Raleigh Ashlin Skelton
Raleigh Ashlin Skelton is best known for his work on the history of cartography and particularly his attempts to prove the authenticity of the Vinland map....

, keeper of the Museum's map collection, had significant expertise relevant to the problems posed by the Map (his colleague George Painter
George Painter
George Duncan Painter, OBE known as George D. Painter, was an English author most famous as a biographer of Marcel Proust....

, the first person to whom Davis had shown the map in 1957, was brought in for the transcription and translation of the Relation) and the secrecy almost completely ruled out consultation with specialists. Witten did his best to help during this period, not only answering the authors' questions, but offering suggestions of his own. After years of study, the proofs of the book, The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation, were ready by the end of 1964, and Mellon donated the Map to Yale. The book was published, and the Map revealed to the world, the day before Columbus Day
Columbus Day
Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday...

, 1965. Many academic reviewers of the book took the opportunity to point out evidence that the Map was likely to be a fake, so a year later, a Vinland Map Conference was held at the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

, during which further significant questions were asked, particularly of Witten, who gave very straightforward and helpful answers; but, the proceedings were not published for another five years.

Academic controversies, 1965–6



There were a number of questions about the actual content of the map. Witten had pointed out that it bore strong resemblances to a map made in the 1430s by Italian mariner Andrea Bianco, but others found some of the similarities and differences very strange—the Map cuts off Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 where Bianco's map has a page fold, but distorts shapes, and includes major revisions in the far east and west. The most surprising revision is that, unlike, for example, the famous Cantino World Map, the Vinland Map depicts Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 as an island, remarkably close to the correct shape and orientation (while Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, of which Greenland was just a colony, is wildly inaccurate) although contemporary Scandinavian accounts—including the work of Claudius Clavus in the 1420s—depict Greenland as a peninsula joined to northern Russia. For practical purposes, Arctic sea ice
Polar ice packs
Polar ice packs are large areas of pack ice formed from seawater in the Earth's polar regions, known as polar ice caps: the Arctic ice pack of the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic ice pack of the Southern Ocean, fringing the Antarctic ice sheet. Polar packs significantly change their size during...

 may have made this description true, and Greenland is not known to have been successfully circumnavigated until the 20th century. Skelton wondered also whether the revisions in the far east were meant to represent Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

—they seem to show not only Honshu
Honshu
is the largest island of Japan. The nation's main island, it is south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Strait...

, but also Hokkaido
Hokkaido
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

 and Sakhalin
Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

, omitted even from Oriental maps in the 15th century.

In addition, the text uses a Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 form of Leifr Eiriksson
Leif Ericson
Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer who is regarded as the first European to land in North America , nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus...

's name ("Erissonius") more consistent with 17th-century norms and with transmission through a French or Italian source. The Latin captions include several usages of the ligature æ; this was almost unknown in later medieval times (a simple e was written instead), and although the ligature was revived by Italian humanist scholars in the early 15th century, it is found only in documents of deliberately classicising style produced by Italian scribes, and never in conjunction with a Gothic style of script such as is seen in the Map.

Another point calling the map's authenticity into question was raised at the 1966 Conference: that one caption referred to Bishop Eirik of Greenland "and neighboring regions" (in Latin, "regionumque finitimarum"), a title known previously from the work of religious scholar Luka Jelic (1863–1922). An essay by British researcher Peter Foote
Peter Foote
Peter Godfrey Foote was a scholar of Old Norse literature and Scandinavian studies. He inaugurated the Department of Scandinavian Studies at University College London, and headed it for 20 years.-Early life and education:...

 for the Saga Book of the Viking Society
Viking Society for Northern Research
The Viking Society for Northern Research, founded in London in 1892 as the Orkney, Shetland and Northern Society or the Viking Club, is a group dedicated to the study and promotion of the ancient culture of Scandinavia whose journal, Saga-Book, publication of editions, translations, and scholarly...

(vol. 11, part 1), published shortly after the conference, noted that German researcher Richard Hennig had spent years, before the Vinland Map was revealed, fruitlessly trying to track Jelic's phrase down in medieval texts. It seemed that either Jelic had seen the Vinland Map and promised not to reveal its existence (keeping the promise so rigidly that he never mentioned any of the other new historical information on the map), or that he had invented the phrase as a scholarly description, and the Vinland Map creator copied him. In practice, because Jelic's work had gone through three editions, Foote was able to demonstrate how the first edition (in French) had adopted the concept from the work of earlier researchers, listed by Jelic, then the later editions had adapted the anachronistic French scholarly phrase "évèque régionnaire des contrées américaines" into Latin.

Handwriting experts at the 1966 Conference tended to disagree with Witten's assessment that the Map captions had been written by the same person as the Speculum and Relation texts. This had also been a major reason why the British Museum had rejected the Map in 1957, the Keeper of Manuscripts having detected elements of handwriting style not developed until the nineteenth century.

Analysis of ink


Complaints were made at the Conference that no scientist had been permitted to examine the Map and its companion documents in all the years of study since 1957. Skelton's scientific colleagues at the British Museum made a short preliminary examination in 1967 and found that:

a) despite its appearance to the naked eye, the ink was certainly not conventional iron-gall ink like its two companion manuscripts, and indeed was unlike any recipe they had ever seen (they spent several months after the initial testing, trying to find similar inks as far afield as Iceland);

b) the map outline appeared to consist of two superimposed lines, one black (but mostly vanished) which looked like graphite or soot, and one yellowish;

c) the whole of the Map parchment (again, unlike its companions) had been coated or soaked in an unknown substance—they were not allowed to take a large enough sample to analyze it;

d) they could not be certain that the two halves of the Map, held together by a binding strip glued on the back, had ever been a single sheet—unlike any other known medieval double-page map; looking at the map, it is clear that the artist knew exactly, to the nearest millimeter, where it was going to be folded, because several place-names start or finish right next to it while none are written straight across it, and the rivers of eastern Europe run parallel to it;

e) the rebinding of the Speculum volume without the Map and Relation had used plastic thread, only available since about 1950.

In 1972, with new technology becoming available, Yale sent the map for chemical analysis by forensic specialist Walter McCrone
Walter McCrone
Walter Cox McCrone was an American chemist who was considered a leading expert in microscopy. To the general public, however, he was best known for his work on the Shroud of Turin, the Vinland map, and Forensic science.-Biography:...

 whose team, using a variety of techniques, found that the yellowish lines contain anatase
Anatase
Anatase is one of the three mineral forms of titanium dioxide, the other two being brookite and rutile. It is always found as small, isolated and sharply developed crystals, and like rutile, a more commonly occurring modification of titanium dioxide, it crystallizes in the tetragonal system; but,...

 (titanium dioxide) in a rounded crystalline form manufactured for use in pale pigments since the 1920s, indicating that the ink was modern. They also confirmed that the ink contained only trace amounts of iron, and that the black line remnants were on top of the yellow, indicating that they were not the remains of a penciled guide-line, as the British Museum staff had speculated.

A new investigation in the early 1980s, by a team under Dr. Thomas Cahill at the University of California, Davis
University of California, Davis
The University of California, Davis is a public teaching and research university established in 1905 and located in Davis, California, USA. Spanning over , the campus is the largest within the University of California system and third largest by enrollment...

, using Particle-Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) found that only trace amounts (< 0.0062% by weight) of titanium appeared to be present in the ink, which should have been too little for some of McCrone's analyses to detect. The Cahill team acknowledged, however, that titanium was the only element within their technique's measurement capability which was significantly more concentrated in the ink than on the bare parchment (other elements such as iron and zinc were found concentrated in some inked samples, but only a minority). One member of the team, Gregory Möller, also analyzed loose particles retrieved from the split down the middle of the Map by a different method, finding that most of them were rich in titanium (though a few black particles were rich in chromium and iron). Because they were the first to apply PIXE to ink analysis, nobody at the time could explain the difference between the Cahill and McCrone figures. Attempting to reconcile the conflicting results, the Cahill team suggested that the high concentrations found by McCrone were due to a combination of contamination from modern dust, and poor sample selection (i.e. choosing contaminant particles like those in the split); however, they also chose not to publish or publicise Möller's loose particle study. The accumulation of large amounts of PIXE data from other laboratories around the world in the ensuing decades was sufficient by 2008 to show that the Cahill figures for all elements in the inks of the Map and its companion documents are at least a thousand times too small, so the discrepancy is due to their mistake.

The McCrone team had also made mistakes, though none as fundamental as Cahill's. Revisiting his notes in 1987 to draft a detailed reply to the abbreviated public version of Cahill's report, Walter McCrone chose the wrong sample to illustrate a "typical" black ink particle, selecting one which had been found only loosely attached to the ink. By focusing on this contamination, rich in chromium and iron, he gave Cahill the opportunity to re-emphasise his case in an essay for an expanded version of the 1965 official book, a few years later.

In 1991, McCrone visited Yale to take new microsamples from the map, partly to check his earlier results, and partly to apply new techniques. Photomicrographs taken at 1 micrometer intervals through the thickness of ink samples demonstrated that the manufactured anatase particles were not just sticking to the surface as Cahill's criticisms had implied, and Fourier transform spectroscopy
Fourier transform spectroscopy
Fourier transform spectroscopy is a measurement technique whereby spectra are collected based on measurements of the coherence of a radiative source, using time-domain or space-domain measurements of the electromagnetic radiation or other type of radiation....

 identified the ink's binder as gelatin, probably made from animal skin. In July 2002, using Raman spectroscopy
Raman spectroscopy
Raman spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique used to study vibrational, rotational, and other low-frequency modes in a system.It relies on inelastic scattering, or Raman scattering, of monochromatic light, usually from a laser in the visible, near infrared, or near ultraviolet range...

, the presence of significant quantities of anatase in the map ink was confirmed by British researchers Katherine Brown and Robin Clark, and the remaining traces of black pigment in the ink were found to consist essentially of soot-type carbon.

Various scientists have formed their own theories to explain how the "20th century manufactured" anatase in the Vinland Map ink could have got into genuine medieval ink. The first was chemist Jacqueline Olin, then a researcher with the Smithsonian Institution, who in the 1970s conducted experiments which produced anatase at an early stage of a medieval iron-gall ink production process. Examination of her anatase by a colleague, mineralogist Dr Kenneth Towe, showed that it was very different from the neat, rounded crystals found in the Vinland Map and modern pigments, and despite decades of further work, she was also never able to explain how the iron would have disappeared from the Vinland Map ink. Towe himself, a clay specialist, briefly considered the possibility that the anatase could have come from clay, where it is present in trace amounts, but on checking McCrone's data found no significant traces of clay minerals. Shortly before the Raman analysis was published, historian Douglas McNaughton based a mistaken theory about the ink around McCrone's emphasis on the chromium-rich black particle, having obtained unpublished data on the similar particles in Möller's report.

Dating of parchment


Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

, begun in 1995 by physicist Douglass Donahue and chemists Jacqueline Olin and Garman Harbottle, places the origin of the parchment
Parchment
Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very...

 somewhere between 1423 and 1445. The initial results were confusing because the unknown substance the British Museum had found across the whole Map, effectively ignored by later researchers who were concentrating on the ink, turned out to be trapping tiny traces of fallout from 1950s nuclear tests deep within the parchment. Although there is none of this 1950s substance on top of the ink, further tests, starting with a detailed chemical analysis, are needed to confirm whether the lines were drawn after it soaked into the parchment.

In 2008, Harbottle's attempt to explain a possible medieval origin for the ink was published, but he was shown by Towe and others to have misunderstood the significance of the various analyses, rendering his theory meaningless.

"VMTR 95"


The expanded 30th anniversary edition of the 1965 official book, The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation, was notable for its exclusion of most of the evidence against the Map's authenticity, concentrating instead on vindications by George Painter, and Thomas Cahill with colleague Bruce Kusko (in which they claimed specifically that they had not analyzed the loose particles they took from the map at the time of their PIXE research), but it did reprint a remarkable essay written in 1989 by the original book dealer Laurence Witten. He confessed that, when the McCrone evidence showed the map to be a forgery in 1974, he had been asked by Yale to reveal its provenance as a matter of urgency, and to discuss the possible return of Mr Mellon's money. He had replied that, contrary to all his previous detailed assertions, he had no idea where the Map came from, beyond Ferrajoli (who had been convicted of theft shortly after the sale, and died shortly after leaving prison). On the subject of the money, he had said he could not pay it all back because, again contrary to his very specific earlier statements, he had paid agreed shares of his profit to Ferrajoli and to another dealer who had introduced him. In the event, Mellon chose not to ask for the return of any money at all. The essay also revealed that Witten had, on Ferrajoli's recommendation, met with Irving Davis after buying the Map volume in 1957.

Regardless of the controversy, the Map, which had been valued for insurance purposes at over $750,000 in the 1960s, was claimed in 1996 to be worth $25,000,000.

Conservation


In 2005 a team from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, led by Dr. René Larsen, studied the Map and its accompanying manuscripts to make recommendations on the best ways to preserve the centuries-old parchment. Among other findings, this study confirmed that the two halves of the Map were entirely separate, though they might have been joined in the past. A few months earlier, Kirsten Seaver had suggested that a forger could have found two separate blank leaves in the original "Speculum Historiale" volume, from which the first few dozen pages are missing, and joined them together with the binding strip. In this scenario, the mysterious chemical treatment of the parchment is intended to disguise slight differences of color and texture between the two halves, and the notch cut out of the bottom disguises a slight size difference (see bottom illustration). On the other hand, at the International Conference on the History of Cartography in July 2009, Larsen revealed that his team had continued their investigation after publishing their original report, and he told the press that "All the tests that we have done over the past five years — on the materials and other aspects — do not show any signs of forgery". The formal report of his presentation shows that his work ignores rather than contradicts earlier studies. For example, he experimented only with artificial wormholes, and did not follow up the observation made at the 1966 Conference, that live bookworms were a known tool of the fake antiquities trade. Similarly, he claimed that the anatase in the ink could have come from sand used to dry it (the hypothetical source of the sand being gneiss
Gneiss
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks.-Etymology:...

 from the Binnenthal area of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

) but his team had not examined the crystals microscopically, and Kenneth Towe responded that this was an essential test, given that crystal size and shape should clearly distinguish commercial anatase from anatase found in sand.

Other evidence for Vinland


Regardless whether the map is genuine, it is known that Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 was settled by Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s around 970, a settlement which lasted until the 15th century. In regard to the Americas, the archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 finds in L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland...

 in present-day northern Newfoundland, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

—to which the investigators had been led partly by the 16th-century Skálholt Map—show there was a Viking settlement there (around 1000) which, while unsuccessful and short-lived, predates by five centuries Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

's voyage to the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 islands in 1492 and John Cabot
John Cabot
John Cabot was an Italian navigator and explorer whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America is commonly held to have been the first European encounter with the continent of North America since the Norse Vikings in the eleventh century...

's voyage to North America in 1497.

Yale's position on the map


As controversy has swirled around the map almost since its acquisition, authorities at Yale University have chosen not to comment on the authenticity of the parchment document, other than to say they watch the debate with unusual interest. "We regard ourselves as the custodians of an extremely interesting and controversial document," said Yale librarian Alice Prochaska in 2002, "and we watch the scholarly work on it with great interest."

External links