Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Media Science

Danish Expert Declares Vinland Map Genuine 210

Posted by kdawson
from the even-now-they-walk-among-us dept.
MBCook writes "A Danish conservation expert named Rene Larsen has finished a 5-year study of the infamous Vinland Map and declared it genuine. 'All the tests that we have done over the past five years — on the materials and other aspects — do not show any signs of forgery,' he said at the press conference. He and his team studied the ink, the paper, and even insect damage. They believe that the ink, which was discovered in 1972 to contain titanium dioxide and thus supposedly was too new for the map to be genuine, was contaminated when sand was used to dry the ink."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Danish Expert Declares Vinland Map Genuine

Comments Filter:
  • Good Point... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Constantin (765902) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @07:32AM (#28746887)

    It reminds me of a problem my mum told me about in the art world: Verifying the authenticity of ancient scrolls has become virtually impossible due to the discovery of large quantities of paint supplies (dried ink especially) and paper in monasteries. Armed with "old materials", forgers only have to focus on getting the technique, etc. right since there is no means to catch them technologically; for example, carbon dating and similar techniques will give the "right" results. Thus, art historians and dealers in that field allegedly have to rely more and more on their eyes to spot bad technique...

    It would not surprise me if the Vinland map could have been constructed under similar circumstances (if that is what someone intended to do). I'm sure someone somewhere could have scared up some old ink and a hide to paint it on. It is or this reason that I guess so many folk are skeptical of the repeated maps from around the world that have come out "discovering" the Americas...

  • Re:hm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rve (4436) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @08:23AM (#28747061)

    Newfoundland is one possible site

    Newfoundland is the only site in the Americas where actual Viking artifacts and remains of a building were found: L'Anse aux Meadows [wikipedia.org]

    As for the map, there really wasn't any need for physical analysis of it to know that it cannot be genuine, as it contains information that was unknowable in the 15th century. According to the wikipedia page, the writing on the map also contains anachronisms. Did someone take a genuine map and add Japan, Australia and Newfoundland, or was it a complete forgery from the ground up? I guess it doesn't really matter.

    It was not uncommon in the 19th and 20th century, with the emergence of the nation state and nationalism, to forge artifacts with the intention to make ones ancestors look smarter and more important than they really were. Not just in Europe. The Kensington Runestone [wikipedia.org] is an example from the US, and mr Shinichi Fujimura [wikipedia.org] planted forged stone tools in an attempt to 'prove' that human civilization must have started in Japan.

  • Re:Fake. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fizzup (788545) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @08:59AM (#28747187)

    I'm not claiming that the Vikings actually pulled this off, but there were accurate celestial clocks available in antiquity. Gavin Menzies described the method in his book about early Chinese exploration, 1421. Off topic, but this is how it works:

    0. Develop the ability to predict lunar eclipses.

    1. Draw a crappy map using the stars to determine your latitude and speed over water to determine your longitude.

    2. Build and staff celestial observatories along the coast at intervals.

    3. Note the star that transits directly overhead each observatory at agreed-upon events of a predicted lunar eclipse.

    4. Collect all the observations, and note the difference in angle (longitude) between the transiting stars.

    5. Interpolate the longitude of the points between the observatories to update your crappy map.

  • Re:Fake. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Schmorgluck (1293264) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:24AM (#28747565)

    Some historians note that Colombus spent a lot of time in the libraries of the Order of Calatrava, a Spanish knights order. When the Order of the Temple was dissolved, many Templars of the Iberian Peninsula joined the Order of Calatrava (and the Order of Alcantara, too).

    At the peak or their power, the Templars were known to have "de l'argent", which nowadays in French means money but at that time may have meant simply "silver". And silver was rather rare in Europe (and even rarer in Middle East, where in some place it was more precious than gold), the German mines hadn't been discovered yet. But silver mines were already exploited in North America. Add to this the fact that six main Templar Roads (networks of pathways protected by Templars) led to La Rochelle for unknown reasons, some historians speculate that maybe the Templars had settlements or commercial counters in the Americas.

    I know, this is starting to sound crazy. Let me tell you I don't believe these theories. I just find them worth some thought, or some dreaming (I'm not an historian so I don't need to be rational about this). Even crazier-sounding is the theory that the Templars found America thanks to old Irish tales, notably the Ulster Cycle, with its mention of Cù Chulainn's travel to Tìr na nÒg, which may have been America. Some even go as far as to point the similarity between "Cù Chulainn" and "Kukulkàn", one of the names of the deity better known as Quetzalcoatl. As far as I know, no satisfactory explanation has been found for the south-Americans' welcoming of Europeans, who went as far as treating them like gods. The theory of a previous, unrecorded contact has never been invalidated. Add to this an inch of evhemerism and maybe...

    All this to say that I agree, there are plenty of clues that Colombus knew there was a reachable land ahead of him. He didn't know what it was, but he most likely knew that it was there.

  • Re:Good Point... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:41AM (#28747961)


    It reminds me of a problem my mum told me about in the art world: Verifying the authenticity of ancient scrolls has become virtually impossible due to the discovery of large quantities of paint supplies (dried ink especially) and paper in monasteries. Armed with "old materials", forgers only have to focus on getting the technique, etc. right since there is no means to catch them technologically; for example, carbon dating and similar techniques will give the "right" results. Thus, art historians and dealers in that field allegedly have to rely more and more on their eyes to spot bad technique...

    That's the best news I've heard in weeks. Assigning Art monetary value based on some imaginary or hidden property like "authenticity", or "name recognition" is incredibly silly. The fact that forgers have been able to replicate this so people might actually have to assign value based on... what the Art looks like... is really wonderful! Perhaps someday forgery will be so perfect and complete that the concept of an "artistic forgery" will be a concept people have to look at history books to understand. I especially love the occasional documentary on a "master forger" who fooled all the "experts" into believing some work of art was really created by -famous artist-.

  • Carbon dating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mangu (126918) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:16PM (#28748159)

    Armed with "old materials", forgers only have to focus on getting the technique, etc. right since there is no means to catch them technologically; for example, carbon dating and similar techniques will give the "right" results

    Carbon dating any plastic material would probably result in a very old age. Carbon-14 is produced by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere. Any material that's produced from petroleum, such as plastics and solvents, is depleted of carbon-14, because it comes from oil that was buried for millions of years.

    The same is true for coal. Mix rock coal in a black pigment that's normally made with charcoal and it will appear to be much older.

  • by carabela (688886) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:45PM (#28748323)
    From http://www.physorg.com/news91798327.html [physorg.com] "Viking navigation hypothesis under foggy and cloudy skies requires more light" This article speaks of the Viking sun-dial for sunny days and a less-known sunstone for the foggy ones. Interesting theory, if anything.
  • That's the thing... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Constantin (765902) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @01:30PM (#28748617)

    All isotope based dating techniques are based on natural decay... whether something is painted or not, I doubt the paint will have any effect on the amount of Carbon-14 you'll find inside it... According to howstuffworks (for what that is worth), carbon-14 is made by cosmic rays, and the ratio of carbon14 to carbon-12 was traditionally pretty stable. Since carbon 14 has a half life of 5,700 years, you can look at the ratio of the two to determine how old something is (well, for the last 60,000 years or so). That's because once there is no more carbon-14 uptake from the atmosphere, the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon 12 will decline (i.e. the plant/animal died)... which brings up another good point, i.e. what pigments were used, what they were derived from.

    Also of interest is how carbon-dating in the future will become more difficult due to the advent of atmospheric atom bomb tests and other nuke industry emissions.

    Lastly, whether the map of Vinland is authentic or not is for someone else to decide. However, I doubt anyone quibbles with the idea that plenty of humans inhabited the Americas well before other folk documented shorelines, etc. when they "discovered" the North and South American continents. For me, too many of these document-authenticity quests take on a quasi-nationalistic tint, i.e. "my grandpa was braver/wiser/better than your grandpa". Cheers.

  • Re:hm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Sunday July 19, 2009 @01:54PM (#28748763) Homepage

    " It was not uncommon in the 19th and 20th century, with the emergence of the nation state and nationalism, to forge artifacts with the intention to make ones ancestors look smarter and more important than they really were. Not just in Europe. The Kensington Runestone is an example from the US, and mr Shinichi Fujimura planted forged stone tools in an attempt to 'prove' that human civilization must have started in Japan."

    Look at the Prince Madoc story - A prince of Wales, Madoc, left Glamorgan county in 1100, sailed to America, and the Welsh interbred with the Indians giving blue eyed Welsh speaking Indians. A rock found in 1957 in Tennesee at Bat Creek is inscribed with Welsh; it was found at the bottom of an Indian burial mound.

    It is suggested that this was dreams up at a time when England was annexing Wales and supposed to be proof of Wales' achievements and further the idea they shouldn't be part of England.

    I'd love for this to be true as I was Born in the year the Bat creek rock was found, in the same county Prince Madoc was from and now live in a town in Canada called "Madoc". Who wouldn't relish that sort of coincidence?

    But it appears the rock was a fake placed by a drunk to restore his tarnished image, and they can't actually find any medieval record of this prince and nobody every actually found any Welsh Indians. See "cult anthropology".

  • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @02:57PM (#28749143)

    Leif Ericson is described as Norwegian because his grandfather and his father were born there. His grandfather was a murderer, so he fled to Iceland. His father was a murderer, so he fled to Greenland, where Leif was born.

    Calling them not Norwegian is like calling the Nazis who escaped to Argentina not German.

    And now that I have successfully Godwinned this argument, we are done.

  • by Paladeen (8688) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:35AM (#28752929)

    *Leifr EirÃksson* was born in Iceland to an "Icelandic" mother, ÃzjÃÃhildr. His father, EÃrikr inn rauÃi (Erik the Red), was a Norwegian outlaw.

    Still, it's ridiculously anachronistic to apply modern-day nationalities to the 9th century. If asked, my guess would be that Leifr would have called himself a Norseman.

"You tweachewous miscweant!" -- Elmer Fudd

Working...