Manchester Historian

Student newspaper for the University of Manchester's History Department

Tuesday 12th December 2017 | Manchester, UK

Who really Discovered America?

When discussing man’s discovery of the North American continent, one would normally associate its discovery with the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus. His voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in the fifteenth century resulted in the establishment of permanent settlements on the Island Hispaniola, which initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World. Because of this, society has gone on to generally name Columbus as the ultimate discoverer of America. Conversely, evidence has recently surfaced suggesting alternative European civilizations reaching and inhabiting America prior to Columbus’s 1492 discovery.

 

L’Anse aux Meadows, located in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and discovered in just 1960, is internationally the most famous site of Viking Settlement outside Greenland. This Viking Settlement dates back tothe year 1000 and provides evidence of pre-Columbian American contact.

L’Anse aux Meadows was named a World Heritage site in 1978 and after further investigation of this settlement it is confirmed that it signifies the farthest exploration made by Europeans of the New World before the voyages of Christopher Columbus, which occurred nearly five hundred years later.

 

Archaeological investigation of the site provides evidence of life at this settlement. The remains of eight buildings have been discovered and identified as various dwellings and workshops. The discovery of spindles and needles suggests the presence of women and therefore more permanent living, rather than just temporary exploring inhabitants.  The remains of food such as butternutswere also found, as well as evidence that suggests the inhabitants were hunting an array of animals including wolf, fox, deer and bear that used to live in the area. These discoveries show that earlier Europeans did not just discover America, but they lived and survived on this new continent for some time.

 

However, evidence has also been discovered showing life existed in the area of L’Anse aux Meadows prior to the European Vikings. Particular evidence suggests thatAboriginal occupants lived in this Northern part of the USA dating back as far as 6,000 years ago. The Dorset people were one of the more prominent of these earlier occupants and they preceded the Vikings by 200 years.

 

Overall, it seems there is overwhelming proof that the continent of America was indeed inhabited centuries prior to Columbus’ famous voyage to the West in 1492. It would appear L’Anse aux Meadows provides strong verification that Columbus was not the first man to step foot on American Soil.

 

 

Comments are closed.