The study provides the first exact date of Europeans in the Americas, CNN reported.
Researchers looked at wooden artifacts – which are, being made of a decomposable material, a rare archeological find – from a previously undated Viking settlement in North America. This UNESCO-protected site is known as L'Anse aux Meadows, and it's situated on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland.
The artifacts were also determined to be the earliest known record of humans crossing the Atlantic by ship and reaching the Americas to date.
Putting a date on the past
Scientists were able to pinpoint the exact date by using two sources: 1) a solar storm that occurred more than 1000 years ago and 2) some chopped wood.
After their longships crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached L'Anse aux Meadows, the newcomer Vikings set out to chop down trees – using metal blades that weren't produced by the local population occupying the area at the time. The pieces of wood which were left at the settlement came from three different trees.
Within those pieces, there were tree rings – and with them, a clear marker for the year 993 AD.
Today, scientists know that a massive solar storm occurred in the year 992 AD. The storm released a barrage of cosmic rays, or highly energetic particles, from the Sun at nearly the speed of light, CNN wrote. It left behind a noticeable and unique signature in the tree rings for the year 993.
"The distinct uplift in radiocarbon production that occurred between 992 and 993 AD has been detected in tree-ring archives from all over the world," said Michael Dee, lead study author and associate professor of isotope chronology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Special signal from the solar storm
All three wooden pieces had the same signal from the solar storm exactly 29 growth rings before meeting the bark's edge.
"Finding the signal from the solar storm 29 growth rings in from the bark allowed us to conclude that the cutting activity took place in the year 1021 AD," Margot Kuitems, study co-author and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Groningen, accentuated.
A study with the abovementioned findings was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Dee pointed out that the study's findings suggest this is the earliest known presence of Europeans in the Americas ahead of Christopher Columbus – as well as the earliest evidence in all of human migration and exploration that the mighty Atlantic Ocean had been crossed.
Curious about Viking history? You can find The Viking Herald's detailed guide here.
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