Ancient Origins Guest Writer, William James Veall, is far afield from his usual research concerning Trans-Oceanic visitations to South America. On this occasion he turns his attention towards the northern hemisphere where it is historically reported Phoenician Seafarers traded for mineral products with Scandinavian countries.
The recent discovery of a second pre-Columbian (Viking?) iron ore working plant at Point Rosee in Newfoundland, thought to have been active at least five centuries before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas, intrigued William such that he was curious to find out if there was a firm trading and exploration alliance between the Vikings and the Phoenicians with Newfoundland. His investigations using remote sensing satellite photography once again puts into the spotlight the question; Were the Vikings really the first Europeans to set foot on the Americas?
Instead of just randomly ‘sweeping’ the whole of Newfoundland in the blind hope of finding something, anything, that remotely appeared to be Viking or Phoenician, or indeed, any other culture’s evidence—like Native North American or even Basque—I adopted the same basic principle to those when I uncovered the mass of inscriptive material on the Uruguayan coastline; deriving a likely landing point by selecting the shortest geodetic distance between the two immediately opposing landmasses, the West African coast and Uruguay.
In this current case, my hypothetical geodetic ran from a south-westerly point on the Greenland coastline, across the North Atlantic Ocean, and conveniently touched base on the tip of the northern Newfoundland/Labrador coastline.
FIGURE 1: Map of the Island of Newfoundland recording how satellite scanning revealed inscriptive material and imagery suggesting Viking activity having taken place in more than just one center. (Copyright WJV 2016 )
Consulting a standard ‘Stream Drift Chart’, I believe voyagers from Greenland to Newfoundland almost certainly made use of the Labrador Current which, when ocean currents were favorable, would drift them past the very rugged and somewhat inaccessible rocky coastline of northern Newfoundland right into the mouth of the more peaceful Gulf of St. Lawrence.
In fact, it was exactly here on this point of the Island of Newfoundland that Vikings established a base; the famous L’Anse aux Meadows site.
FIGURE 2: Chart of the inscriptive material and imagery discovered on the Island of Newfoundland by William James Veall. (Copyright WJV 2016)
Figure 2a and Figure 2b in the above chart display a random selection of symbols (characters) exposed by remote sensing satellite photography over the region of L’Anse aux Meadows and Point Rosee respectively. Figures 2c – 2f inclusive, are pairs of symbols from L’Anse and Point Rosee which could indicate individuals names or places.
Figures 2g and 2h are rock cut inscriptions from Mistaken Point and Point Rosee respectively; their meaning remains unknown.
Each example has been transcribed as carefully as possible bearing in mind the vagaries of time, the condition of the base rock and, of course, the resolution of the satellite imagery.
It is true Viking Runes have a Phoenician parent system, but from the satellite photographs I cannot positively conclude who actually inscribed the ‘writing’ depicted in the Figure 2 chart. Bear in mind, simply because Phoenician and Viking characters ‘look’ the same this does not establish a fait accompli. The Phoenicians may have simply traded with the Vikings and in doing so introduced their own ‘international’ system of ‘writing’, much eventually being adapted by the Vikings.
The very earliest Viking ‘ Elder Futark’ Runes date from AD 150 to AD 800. Assuming the inscriptive material in Figure 2 falls into the Elder Futark category, then logically speaking we could not have a ‘first entry’ date of literate Vikings into Newfoundland before AD 150.
However that said, ancient Norse Sagas claim Lief Eriksson was the first European to set foot on the Americas in Autumn AD 986; if true then in my opinion the inscriptive material is likely a transition from ‘Elder’ to ‘Younger Futark’ of the period AD 800 onwards—which, as a time-frame marker, is the historically accepted beginning of the Viking Period.
Bog ore iron mining was the Viking’s summer (June – August) activity, hence any temporary dwellings built on Newfoundland only needed to be of turf construction. Thus far, satellite scanning shows no obvious evidence of ‘long stay’ ancient stone dwellings.