Remote Sensing Satellite Uncovers Astonishing New Evidence of Viking Presence in Newfoundland, Canada
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.
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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.
Climatologists also point out that harvesting bog iron was inevitably short term because the Vikings were forced to take advantage of the homeward blowing westerly winds (September - October) which immediately follow summer. Reaching home, raw bog iron nuggets would then be smelted for manufacturing valuable trading products like ingots, axe and hammer heads, worked metal bars for knives, chisels, and, of course, iron swords.
Bog Ore. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
To explain very briefly: Bog Ore is found where mountain streams flow into bogs and peaty wet -lands. The streams carry 'iron' which becomes 'acidified' because of the low levels of oxygen present in bogs: this reaction forms pea-sized nodules. These nuggets are then harvested and roasted to mainly drive off moisture; the resulting slag is then 'crushed' to remove the Bog Iron and make it ready for smelting.
Picture of typical iron-bearing ground water emerging as a spring. The iron is oxidized to ferric hydroxide upon encountering the oxidizing environment of the surface. A large number of these springs and seeps on the flood plain provide the iron for bog iron deposits. (USGS/Public Domain)
Artifacts extracted from L'Anse aux Meadows site and the signs of a (Viking?) iron ore working plant at Point Rosee, some 400 miles (640 km) further south, now suggest Vikings were active both in the north and south of the Island, however, whether the two sites are contemporaneous, due to their distance apart, is yet to be established. (after Parcak) My own research parameters suggest somewhat differently; these two sites may be only a small part of a much wider Viking domain operating across Newfoundland. (See Figure 1)
The ancient Chronicles and Sagas, together with archaeological excavations carried out in the 15th century, also tend to support my hypothesis. Figure1 shows my primary 'sweep' concentrating on locating possible coastal landing points which might give clues to yet unknown inland iron ore working sites. In turn, this scanning also revealed the presence of the inscriptive material.
Remote Satellite Technology
Here, I should explain how using remote satellite technology I recognize coastal information posted by Trans-Oceanic voyagers. Taking the case of the Viking exploration of Vinland (Newfoundland) as an example; Norsemen, like the Phoenicians Seafarers, had no magnetic compass, so voyagers used a technique known as ' running down the latitudes' (after Obregon).
According to my research; this necessitated the very accurate placement of ‘steps of latitude’—denoted by hugely visible insignia, human or animal heads— carved into coastal rocks and cliffs. Longitude readings are similarly recorded. Many examples of this form of geodetic 'stepping' are recorded in my book "Portraits of the Gods".
It is, therefore, my belief that in the daylight hours, navigators could check each 'positional indicator' as they passed along a coastline against a roll chart or, perhaps, a more sea-worthy device along the lines of a baked clay "Phaistos Disc". By utilizing common printing stamps, ancient cartographers (Minoans?) could very easily reproduce combination route maps and merchandise lists.
Side A of the Phaistos Disc (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Aside from Figures 1 and 2, I located, subject to a ground survey, a possible bog ore roasting oven; this feature is annotated in Figure 3 as follows: 1) roasting oven below ground, 2) slabs forming roof of oven, 3) tuyere (for air bellows), 4) port for slag removal, 5) crushing area, 6) Insignia/name of Mine, 7) Effigy of Mine owner?
FIGURE 3: Satellite photograph taken above Point Rosee of a possible bog ore roasting oven, exposed by William James Veall. (Copyright WJV 2016 )
At this stage of my research, do I still believe there was something other than a simple trading alliance between the Phoenician Seafarers and the Vikings? In my humble opinion, highly unlikely.
Here we have a scenario between two very powerful, war-faring aggressors. The Vikings would inevitably jealously guard their secret sources of material wealth from the all-conquering Phoenician Sea Kings for very obvious reasons. The Phoenicians would be greatly disadvantaged trying to attack the Vikings as, quite naturally, the Vikings would refuse to sell timber or iron products like nails and tools to repair damaged ships and weapons. Altogether a logistically impossible situation to do battle so far from their Lebanon homeland.
This hypothesis tends to rule out the possibility that inscriptions were communicative information strategically put in place by both parties in mutual co-operation, leading to the inevitable conclusion that inscriptive material inscribed on the Island of Newfoundland is solely of Viking origination.
So, does the evidence presented establish that the Vikings really were the first Europeans to set foot on the Americas? At first glance, in the case of Newfoundland it would appear to be true, ignoring for the moment the earlier suggestion there may have been visitations by North Americans or Basque Fishermen.
Original photographs with outline defining sketch of two animal sculptures discovered on the Island of Newfoundland. Figure 4 the head of an Eagle and Figure 5, the head of a Deer. (Copyright WJV 2016)
That said, I am puzzled by the sculptures depicted in Figures 4 and 5. I realized immediately that I had seen similar icons used as Aztec date symbols. According to Quora, it was very rare for Viking Runic Inscriptions to include symbols representing ‘ numbers'. So, exactly what does the Deer and Eagle represent—Viking gods... or someone else's gods?
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Although not included in this article, my remote sensing scanning uncovered an array of human head and animal imagery inscribed along the Newfoundland coastline, and inland; these have yet to be identified because, as with the imagery I uncovered in South America, the work piece seems to have been selected according to the color of the base rock: white man (white or grey rock) red (haired) sandstone or black rock imagery representing a race of colored people? (Bibliography: "Portraits of the Gods")
Figure 6. The Portal sculpture depicting the happy smiling face of the Viking Miner who likely owned the iron working site featured in Figure 3.
Whilst I accept the fact of red haired, white men (Vikings) being the first Europeans to land in Newfoundland, there is still the issue of the presence of the colored peoples - were they indigenous? If not indigenous, did they arrive before or after the Vikings and... where did they come from?
Of one thing I am very certain; questions like this can only be answered by a full ground survey to ensure correct interpretation of satellite recorded imagery. A huge amount of time and expense can be wasted 'chasing rainbows'. Anyone, wishing to explore remote sensing techniques for serious research projects should at the very minimum acquire some knowledge of aerial photographic interpretation.
Compiling this for Ancient Origins, I fully acknowledge the excellent work of Professor Sarah Parcak, PhD, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Alabama, USA, for uncovering the Point Rosee iron working plant.
William James Veall reports that he would be very happy to hear from any Epigraphers who may be able to offer an interpretation of the Viking Runes charted in this article.
Top Image: Vikings. Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000. (Public Domain)
MEADOWS, L'ANSE: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/4
OBREGON. M, Beyond the Edge of the Sea. Random House. New York 2001
PARCAK, S. http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/evidence-vikings-canada-grows-surprising-find-ironworking-site-newfoundland-020790?utm_source=sumome&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sumome_share.
Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology, Amazon. 31 Mar 2009,
"Portraits of the Gods". Nascodex Publications, October 2012
VIKING IRON SMELTING: http://www.medievalhistories.com/smelting-iron-viking-way
WILSON D.R. Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists. Batsford. London 1982