Skip to comments.Did the Scandinavians beat Columbus to America twice?
Posted on 10/22/2003 6:39:07 AM PDT by mhking
STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Archeologists have already established that Viking explorers beat Christopher Columbus to America by about 500 years, but experts in Sweden now hope to determine whether another group of Scandinavians landed in the New World in 1362, 130 years before Columbus.
A 90-kilo (200-pound) rune stone, a block of stone featuring symbolic engravings common during the Viking era, has been sent from the United States to Sweden's Museum of National Antiquities to establish whether it really dates from 1362, as its markings claim, or is just a hoax.
If confirmed as an authentic relic, the so-called Kensington stone would prove that another wave of explorers, more than 300 years after the Vikings, made it to the American continent before Columbus did in 1492.
"The stone is very important. But whether or not history will have to be re-written because of this stone is very difficult to say," museum curator Karl-Olof Cederberg told AFP.
A farmer in Kensington, Minnesota claimed to have found the stone on his property in 1898. The man, Olof Ohman, originally from Sweden, immediately suspected it was a rune stone.
He handed the slab over to experts, many of whom dismissed it as a fake; after years of dispute over its origin, the stone was returned to Ohman, who put it to use as a doorstep.
Decades later, interest in the stone was resuscitated and it eventually ended up on display in various US museums, including the Smithsonian Institution (news - web sites) in Washington.
Now, a dozen experts have descended upon Sweden's Museum of National Antiquities -- which is featuring the rune stone in an exhibit that opens Thursday -- to examine the stone's inscriptions and geological composition to determine its true origin.
According to experts, the inscription, translated into English, reads:
"Eight Geats (southern Swedes) and 22 Norwegians on this exploration journey from Vinland in (unclear) west. We made camp at two (unclear) one day's journey north of this stone. We went fishing one day. Upon our return we found 10 men red from blood and death, Ave Maria. Save us from evil. There are 10 men down by the sea guarding our ships, 14 days' journey from this island. Year 1362."
Those who believe that the stone is authentic claim that the marshy surroundings of its origin were areas of water in 1362, and therefore the area in Minnesota where it was found was indeed an island at the time.
At least one US expert, Scott Walter, has concluded that the stone was exposed to weather and winds for several centuries, boosting the claim that it is authentic.
One theory is that the Swedish-Norwegian king Magnus Eriksson in 1354 sent a team of explorers to find out what had happened to an expedition he had sent to Greenland. It would be this team that ultimately ended up in Minnesota.
However, sceptics note that the era of Viking exploration is believed to have ended some 300 years before the stone's date, and point out that the Viking practice of engraving rune stones was no longer common in the 1300s.
Others also wonder whether a group that has just found 10 companions savagely murdered would hang around to laboriously engrave a rune stone.
The Stockholm museum is now pinning its hopes on modern technology and a group of Nordic experts to once and for all resolve the more than 100-year-old mystery of the Kensington stone.
"Whichever conclusions are drawn, they will be interesting. If it is a bluff, it's still interesting because it would show that emigrants used the stone as part of their identity-building, playing on the references to the Vikings," Cederberg said.
If you want on the new list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...
I don't know, my grandfather didn't get here till 1902.
You mean the earth can change without the existance of SUVs?
If that's true, it's a pretty significant trashing to Columbus' claim of 'discovery.'
Jag vet inte, "I don't know." Start one up. That's what I did with the Swedish Ping List. Start by asking the FReepers listed by location under Norway.
Ja sure, you betcha!
Who made it first has never mattered. Who made it stick has always mattered.
Skandinaviska Utforskande Vikingar.