Pre-Columbian Murals and Norse Sagas Suggest Vikings Met the Aztecs, and the Outcome Was Not Pretty

Pre-Columbian Murals and Norse Sagas Suggest Vikings Met the Aztecs, and the Outcome Was Not Pretty


Did the Vikings visit Pre-Columbian Mexico? The depiction of white people on Chichen Itza murals in the Temple of the Warriors probably represent Vikings - the major European navigators around the time this temple was built. This suggests the tradition of the “White Lords” who had visited Mexico before the Spanish were the Vikings.

Norse Sagas Discussing Voyages that May Have Landed in Mexico

Hans Ebeling published the book ‘ Die Reise in die Vergangenheit III. Die Europäer gewinnen den Erdball. Geschichte der Neuzeit bis’ , in 1789. In his text, Ebeling talked about how Moctezuma II welcomed Hernán Cortés as Quetzalcoatl. Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir and Björn Thorsteinsson translated Ebeling’s book into Icelandic. They discussed the Eyrbggia saga in the epilogue. This saga mentions two possible Vikings who may have sailed to the Yucatan region of Mexico - Gudleif Gudlaugson (c.1025 AD) and Björn Breiðvíkingakappi (c.965).

Guðmundsdóttir and Thorsteinsson claim that the Eyrbyggja saga describes how Björn Breiðvíkingakappi (Björn the champion of the Broadwickers) sailed around Ireland and landed in Mexico.



Drawing of Norsemen in a ship by Oscar Wergeland.

Drawing of Norsemen in a ship by Oscar Wergeland. ( Public Domain )

There are also three traditions of the Norse Sagas that mention that in 965 or 986 Ari Marson set sail from Ireland in an attempt to reach Greenland. The story has it that Marson’s ship ran into rough seas and a storm threw him off course. Within six days he had reached Mexico instead. The Eyrbggia saga and the voyage of Ari Marson may explain how the first white people got to the Yucatan.

Mural in the Temple of the Warriors, Chichen Itza, Mexico. The image shows light-skinned men as they pack to retreat by sea, while others defend a village or are taken away as prisoners.

Mural in the Temple of the Warriors, Chichen Itza, Mexico. The image shows light-skinned men as they pack to retreat by sea, while others defend a village or are taken away as prisoners. ( The Plumed Conch )

The White Lords’ Return

Many researchers claimed that tens of thousands of indigenous peoples helped Hernán Cortés conqueror the Mexica (Aztecs) in 1519. They formed a confederation of a number of disparate peoples who wanted to throw off the Aztec yoke.

Some researchers claim that the tribes joined the conquistadors’ in defeating the Aztecs because they represented a return of the “white lords”. However, most researchers say that this story about “white lords” was a myth created during the Spanish conquest. Restall wrote that: “The legend of the returning lords, originated during the Spanish-Mexica war in Cortés' reworking of Moctezuma's welcome speech, had by the 1550's merged with the Cortés-as-Quetzalcoatl legend that the Franciscans had started spreading in the 1530s.”

Codex Azcatitlan page depicting the Spanish army, with Hernán Cortés and Malinche in front.

Codex Azcatitlan page depicting the Spanish army, with Hernán Cortés and Malinche in front. ( Public Domain )

But this story of “white lords” in Pre-Columbian Mexico may make sense. The Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza suggests that Europeans had visited Mexico between 600-900 AD. Murals in the temple depict black, white, and brown people. In some of these murals one can see whites fighting and in bondage to blacks.

White prisoners in bondage to blacks.

White prisoners in bondage to blacks. ( In the Cavity of a Rock )

The Complex Dance of the Giants

In Esotericism of the Popol Vuh by Raphael Girard, one reads about the ‘Dance of the Giants’. This Mayan dance appears to represent a Pre-Columbian conflict between white and black people in Mexico.

This book is quite illuminating. In it, Girard discusses the Dance of the Black Giants. The dance of the Black Giants explains the reason why the other indigenous peoples joined the Spanish in destroying the Aztec nation. Girard's description of the Dance of the Giants is startling. He wrote:

“In the following episode, Apparition, the vicissitudes undergone by the White Giant, who has fallen into the hands of his rival, are mimed. The Black Giant "intimidates" his opponent by beating the ground furiously with his sword while he makes menacing gestures and movements in hopes of touching or wounding the White Giant, who defends himself as best he can by trying to evade and riposte the thrusts. The battle is suspended at intervals while the giants pay homage to the sun, but is then immediately resumed with greater fury. During the whole episode the Black Giant maintains a menacing stance, not only toward his rival but also toward the large audience witnessing the spectacle. Both actors watch each other constantly, trying to take advantage of the smallest error of the other. For whole minutes they are motionless like statues, then cautiously cross swords as they dart glances around in all directions as if fearing some invisible danger. Then they come to grips and each places the point of his sword against his opponent's neck, a tragic pose that lasts but an instant. Finally the Black Giant succeeds in decapitating the White Giant "because his power is greater," an episode that for the Chortí represents the moment "when our Lord was suffering under the dominion of the bad spirit.”

The defeat of the white giant by the black giant is not the end of the dance. In the Dance of the Giants a white person called Gavite returns to Mexico and helps the indigenous peoples defeat the black giants. Girard explains:

“Finally, Gavite decapitates the Black Giant and takes away his sword, after the giant humbly says to him: "Rest a moment, child, and I will give you your payment, because I now yield myself, and even my heart trembles." He acknowledges himself vanquished and a tribute-payer to Gavite from thenceforward. But the hero-god replies: "There is no rest now, boastful giant, because we are beginning the end of the labor [hornada]." We note here for the reader's better understanding that the word hornada means task, act, or ceremony, and is a term frequently employed by Chortí elders in that sense.”

Scene from the traditional ‘Dance of the Giants’ showing Gavite and the Black Giant, amongst other characters.

Scene from the traditional ‘Dance of the Giants’ showing Gavite and the Black Giant, amongst other characters. ( Theosophical University Press Online Edition )

Girard continues the tale:

“There is no discrepancy between the Chortí and the Quiché sources regarding the manner of killing the chief of the infernal forces. Gavite cuts off his head, just as Hunahpú did that of Hun Camé in the Popol Vuh: "The first to be cut off was the head of the one called Hun Camé, the great Lord of Xibalbá." Offering the Black Giant's head and sword as trophies to the King and Captain, Gavite says: "Here I bring you the head of this giant, with a blade of steel from my sling, from my battle. It will overcome the whole world, since if you do not subdue it, it will be your subduer.”

The Chichen Itza mural indicates that the indigenous peoples had sided with the blacks when the whites first attempted to invade Mexico. However, it later appears that they felt the ‘black giants’ were arrogant and boastful and they wanted to overthrow them – even though they originally had helped defeat the Vikings.

The Dance of the Giants probably represents the fight between the whites and blacks for power. The whites lost the first battle (as depicted in the murals at Chichen Itza) but the Maya people were used as pawns by the blacks to defeat the whites. In one of the murals one can see a blond-haired man being sacrificed by two black men.

A part of a mural showing a blond-haired man being sacrificed by two black men.

A part of a mural showing a blond-haired man being sacrificed by two black men. ( In the Cavity of a Rock )

Describing the Aztecs

Although many of the Indigenous peoples sided with the blacks in their battle against the white invaders in Pre-Columbian times, by the time the Spanish arrived in Mexico the black rulers, namely the Aztecs, were mistreating the other groups of Indigenous peoples.

The Spanish described the Aztecs as follows: “The people of this land are well made, rather tall than short. They are swarthy as leopards, of good manners and gestures, for the greater part very skillful, robust, and tireless, and at the same time the most moderate men known. They are very warlike and face death with the greatest resolution.”

Folio 65r of the Codex Mendoza, a mid-16th century Aztec codex.

Folio 65r of the Codex Mendoza, a mid-16th century Aztec codex. ( Public Domain )

Archaeological evidence, Mayan and Spanish descriptions, and pictorial evidence from the codices indicate the Aztecs may have been black people. This would not be surprising because the Paleo-Americans Luzia and Naia were also black.

In addition to the Spanish describing the Aztecs as black ‘like leopards and jaguars.’ The Mayas called the Aztecs xilaan “curly or frizzy hair”, which is characteristic of Sub-Saharan Africans. Furthermore, one can find Black/Negro/African people in the Mexican codices, including the Codex Telleriano and Codex Mendoza .

Detail of page 30 of the Codex Borbonicus.

Detail of page 30 of the Codex Borbonicus. ( FAMSI)

Connecting the Dots

In summary, it would appear that the character named Gavite in the Dance of the Giants represents the Spanish. The blacks defeated by Gavite were the Aztecs, who were identified by the Maya and Spanish as black and were represented in the codices as a horrible people who mistreated the other local tribes.

The whites who landed at Chichen Itza were Vikings. The Vikings were well-known navigators that sailed to many nations in Europe, including Great Britain. They may have been sailing in the Atlantic and were mislaid by a storm until they reached Mexico.

As Dennis Tedlock notes in Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life : “They didn’t know where they were going. They did this for a long time, when they were there in the grasslands: the black people, the white people , people of many faces, people of many languages, uncertain there at the edge of the sky” (pp.149-150). This mention of whites and blacks in the Popol Vuh supports the diverse populations depicted in the Chichen Itza murals.

A mural from the Chichen Itza Temple of the Warriors.

A mural from the Chichen Itza Temple of the Warriors. ( Copyleft)

Top Image: Detail of a mural from Chichen Itza’s Temple of the Warriors. Source: Celticnz

By Clyde Winters


Raphael Girard, Esotericism of the Popol Vuh, Chapter 15.

Restall, Matthew (2003). Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

POPOL VUH: THE MAYAN BOOK OF THE DAWN OF LIFE, translated by Dennis Tedlock.

Þórunn Valdimarsdóttir, Vikings in Mexico 998 AD?


Clyde Winters's picture

The Olmec language influenced the Mayan and other Mexican languages . Swadesh, Morris in The Language of the Archaeological Huastecs,  ( Notes on Middle American Archaelogy and Ethnology 1953 4:223-227) noted that the linguistic evidence suggest that around 1200 B.C., when the Olmec arrived in the Gulf, region of Mexico a  non-Maya speaking group wedged itself between the Huastecs and Maya. The Olmec was probably this new intrusive group that wedged between these tribes.

Mexican tranditions claim the Olmec came to Mexico by sea. The archaeological evidence, suggest that the founders of the Olmec civilization were not “indigenous” people.

In the Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership (1995), (ed.) by Carolyn Tate, on page 65, we find the following statement”Olmec culture as far as we know seems to have no antecedents; no material models remain for its monumental constructions and sculptures and the ritual acts captured in small objects”.

M. Coe, writing in Regional Perspective on the Olmecs (1989), (ed.) by Sharer and Grove, observed that “ on the contrary, the evidence although negative, is that the Olmec style of art, and Olmec engineering ability suddenly appeared full fledged from about 1200 BC”. 

Mary E. Pye, writing in Olmec Archaeology in Mesoamerica (2000), (ed.) by J.E. Cark and M.E. Pye,makes it clear after a discussion of the pre-Olmec civilizations of the Mokaya tradition, that these cultures contributed nothing to the rise of the Olmec culture. Pye wrote “The Mokaya appear to have gradually come under Olmec influence during Cherla times and to have adopted Olmec ways. We use the term olmecization to describe the processes whereby independent groups tried to become Olmecs, or to become like the Olmecs” (p.234). Pye makes it clear that it was around 1200 BC that Olmec civilization rose in Mesoamerica. She continues “Much of the current debate about the Olmecs concerns the traditional mother culture view. For us this is still a primary issue. Our data from the Pacific coast show that the mother culture idea is still viable in terms of cultural practices. The early Olmecs created the first civilization in Mesoamerica; they had no peers, only contemporaries” (pp.245-46).

Richard A. Diehl The Olmecs:America’s first civilization (2005), wrote “ The identity of these first Olmecs remains a mystery. Some scholars believe they were Mokaya migrants from the Pacific coast of Chiapas who brought improved maize strains and incipient social stratification with them. Others propose that Olmec culture evolved among the local indigenous populations without significant external stimulus. I prefer the latter position, but freely admit that we lack sufficient information on the period before 1500 BC to resolve the issue” (p.25).

Pool (17-18), in Olmec Archaeology and early MesoAmerica (2007), argues that continuity exist between the Olmec and pre-Olmec cultures in Mexico “[even]though Coe now appears to favor an autochthonous origin for Olmec culture (Diehl & Coe 1995:150), he long held that the Olmec traits appeared at San Lorenzo rather suddenly during the Chicharras phase (ca 1450-1408 BC) (Coe 1970a:25,32; Coe and Diehl 1980a:150)”.

As a result, Olmec is a substratum language in Maya and Mixe-Zoque among other Mexican languages. Just because the languages may show a substratum relationship does not make the Maya and  Mazatecan speakers  descendants of the Olmecs .

Actually, the Mazateca and the Olmeca have an area of overlap in the coastal region of Veracruz.They both seem to share a relationship with the Zapotec and the Maya as well.

Clyde Winters's picture

There is no evidence the Mazatecans  were Olmecs. It was pure speculation by Arnaiz-Villena that the Mazatecans  were descendants of the Olmecs . The Olmec lived along the Gulf coast, the Mazatecans  live in Southern Mexico.

LOL, then take your own advise! The whole point of the Abstract is to sumerize the article and its conclusions.

a summary of the contents of a book, article, or formal speech.
"an abstract of his inaugural address"
synonyms: summary, synopsis, précis, résumé, outline, abridgment, digest, summation; wrap-up
"an abstract of her speech"

However, I actually DID read the article and most of the quotes I posted are from the body of the article. BTW, I posted the entire quotes unlike you. You left off the first sentence of the paragraph in which it was stated that Native Americans are not closely related to any other humans including Africans. All you chose to quote was an aside noting that things could change with further investigation. Cherry picking at its worst. Throughout the article it is stated in various ways that Native Americans have unique genetics and are not closely related to Africans, Europeans, Pacific Islanders or Australians. Your own citation refutes your claims.

Clyde Winters's picture

Stop trying to make yourself right. The first thing I used to teach my students in the Research Course they had to take to earn a Master Degree, was to critically  read the article  you intead to cite in a research paper. The Abstract of an article does not tell everything written in the article itself. The quotation from the article I cited above proves that you only read Abstracts instead of doing actual research.


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