The Viking Colony That Wasn't

L'Anse aux Meadows is (rightly) famous as the archaeological evidence of a Viking settlement in North America. Located on the northern tip of Newfoundland, the site has the remains of eight buildings and could house up to 100 people, and seems to have been occupied around the year 1000.

The interesting thing? The site does not quite fit with the descriptions of "Vinland" in the Norse Sagas. L'Anse aux Meadows has no graves and no cows, but the sagas describe an attempt to found a permanent settlement (suggesting a graveyard was needed) and showing cows to confused locals. L'Anse aux Meadows also has butternuts and butternut wood, which grows at the northernmost much further south around New Brunswick. Even the name - Vineland - and the description of wild grapes does not match L'Anse aux Meadows. Wild grapes grow much further south, also by New Brunswick.

Hopes were briefly raised that another Viking settlement might have been found at Point Rosee on the southern end of Newfoundland. A satellite-based survey seemed to find 'cultural remains.' But the follow-up in-person survey found the remains were entirely natural in origin.

So the search continues. Or perhaps...the Sagas were slight exaggerations, and add descriptions from places scouted but not settled further into North America. Only time (and archaeology) will tell.

An Aztec creation myth states that there were four failed attempts to create humans who would survive. It was only on the fifth attempt, when humans began to eat corn, that they were able to propogate themselves and continue as a species.

A Gold Inca Beaker from the Urubamba Valley

  Doesn't the man seem to have a strong expression about...something? Peru, circa 1475–1525 CE. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Were Medieval (European) Thieves or Assassins Guilds Real?


Historical-nonfiction only asks the real questions. Like did well-organized crime groups exist in medieval Europe?

The hermitage of San Bartolomé, chapel in the Rio dos Lobos Canyon of Spain dating to the 1100s CE, was built by the religious order the Templars in a very specific spot. It's a pretty special location because, among other things, it is exactly the same distance from San Bartolomé to two peninsulas on the eastern and western coasts of the Iberian peninsula.

The earliest known telephone technology is older than you probably think: 1,200 years old! It was a device of created by two hollowed-out gourds, connected by 75 feed of twine.This highly developed culture was centered in the Río Moche Valley in northern Peru, between the Pacific Ocean and the western Andes. They are known for their metalworking, artistry, and highly sophisticated hydraulic canal-irrigation system. And perhaps they should also be known as the inventor of the telephone. The one known example of this technology is today housed by the Smithsonian Museum in the United States.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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