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Viking's Travels

Scientists have used mass spectrometry to carbon date a parchment map of the New World that predates Christopher Columbus' voyage by about 50 years. A Smithsonian Institution study, published in the July issue of the journal Radiocarbon concludes that the map's parchment was produced around 1434. This predates Christopher Columbus' voyage by about 50 years, adding to evidence that Vikings reached the New World before he did.

Jacqueline Olin and other researchers from the Smithsonian used a thin strip of parchment taken from the map to date it by radiocarbon dating with accelerator mass spectrometry.

The authenticity of the map has been debated for some time when a benefactor donated it to Yale University. Yale has not taken a position on whether the map is authentic. The map depicts a representation of the world including the north Atlantic coast of North America. It includes text in medieval Latin and a legend that describes how a Norseman, Leif Eiriksson found a new land called Vinland around the year 1000 A.D. Other evidence of such a voyage exists from traces of a Viking settlement excavated in Newfoundland, Canada in the 1960s.


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