Space Archaeologists May Have Found a New Viking Settlement in North America

By Chris Mills on at

There’s only one confirmed Viking settlement in North America, far north on the Canadian coast. But if a new team of space archaeologists and their satellite data is to be believed, that’s all about to change.

A PBS programme set to broadcast next week has the story of a potential Viking site much further south, on the southwest tip of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. It was found using infrared satellite imagery by Sarah H. Parcak, a leading space archaeologist. She used the satellite images to identify “hotspots”, which were narrowed down to one site at Point Rosee.

Further excavations have revealed a Viking-style turf wall, which radiocarbon tests date back to the Norse era. The evidence is still circumstantial, however, and it’s not positive proof of a new Viking settlement in North America.

In either case, it’s already a validation of new technology in very old history. Aerial images have long been used to track ancient structures and burial mounds, but infrared satellite imaging gives archaeologists a valuable new tool. Maybe the next Indiana Jones movie will involve fewer boulders, and more time spent digitally enhancing images. [New York Times]

Image credit: DigitalGlobe