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Danish Expert Declares Vinland Map Genuine 210

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."
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Danish Expert Declares Vinland Map Genuine

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  • Larsen != Larson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zenzay42 ( 1150143 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @05:38AM (#28746531)
    The experts name is most probable not Rene Larson but René Larsen. As a Dane living in the UK, having a surname ending with sen, I'm proper fed up with having to spell my surname to everyone taking my name down. To me Larsen sounds Danish and Larson sounds Swedish. Sorry for rambling.
  • Re:hm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brown ( 36659 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @05:40AM (#28746537) Homepage

    Vinland is recognised by most historians as being a short-lived Norse ('Viking') colony in the Newfoundland area, probably on mainland North America (though the exact location and extent is very unsure). See the Wikipedia article [].

    The map shows it as an island presumably (assuming it is genuine) because the area was explored to a very limted extent and the explorers were unaware that it was part of a much greater land mass.

  • Re:Larsen != Larson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @06:00AM (#28746585) Homepage

    The source has him as Larsen, also here is his work page [].

  • Re:hm (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @06:34AM (#28746687) Homepage

    The map shows it as an island presumably (assuming it is genuine) because the area was explored to a very limted extent and the explorers were unaware that it was part of a much greater land mass.

    Huh? The map shows Vinland as an island because it's Newfoundland and Newfoundland is an island. The province people commonly refer to as "Newfoundland" is more properly known as "Newfoundland and Labrador", Labrador being the mainland part of the province (possibly what the Norse called "Markland", as your article noted) and Newfoundland being the island of Newfoundland (site of the only Norse village in North America outside of Greenland).

  • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @06:35AM (#28746691)
    Aside from being generally suspicious of a person anonymously bashing a guy on /., your inability to get even basic facts straight makes me skeptical of your arguments. The map's prominence dates to 1965, after the initial authentication work was completed; prior to that point virtually no one knew of it, so there would be no story of his fame, and definitely no nationwide headlines. Mods, please drop this guy to oblivion.
  • Re:Fake. (Score:4, Informative)

    by rve ( 4436 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @08:53AM (#28747155)

    Note: the map predates the *known* effective computation of longitude. The Vikings could probably do it. Of course, they didn't try to sail across the middle like some impulsive Italian trader apparently did without thinking in advance: "hmm. maybe hitting islands along the way that I know about would be easier."

    You are under the impression that Columbus was acting on impulse? He didn't just happen to have three well supplied ships and crew.

    The Turkish empire was in control of the land route to India and China, and the Portuguese seemed in control of any eastern route around Africa. Like astronomers and scientists did at the time, Columbus knew the earth was round, and knew he could get to 'India' via the western route. He tried to sell this idea to investors in various places, until he found the queen of Spain willing to finance an expedition.

    He did underestimate the size of the Earth and thus the length of his journey, even though Eratosthenes [] had calculated it to reasonable accuracy more than 17 centuries earlier. Going through the middle is simply the shortest route by sail, following the prevailing wind.

  • Re:Fake. (Score:3, Informative)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:00AM (#28747459) Journal

    Columbus wasn't Italian. He's probably referring to Amerigo Vespucci or someone.

    Eh? There was no nation of Italy at the time, but Columbus came from the area now known as Italy, as did Vespucci.

  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) * on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:59AM (#28747745) Journal

    Actually, Norway has two languages - Norwegian Bokmål ("Book language" - but also spoken - very similar to Danish) and Norwegian Nynorsk ("New Norwegian"). Norwegian Nynorsk might be more like Icelandic than Danish, but Norwegian Bokmål is essentially Danish. I guess it's because Norway was part of Denmark some time ago...

    I'm a dane and I speak both Danish and Norwegian (Bokmål). I know some Norwegian Nynorsk, but not enough to carry a conversation. I've heard quite a bit of Icelandic, and I don't understand a word... well... yeah, I know one word... :-)

    When it comes to it though, Icelandic is very much like the language spoken in Denmark at the time of the map - if it's real...

    Actually, Norwegians never spoke Bokmal. It looks like Danish, because it essentially is Danish. Norwegians spoke Norse, and wrote in Danish. Much like the middle ages where most of Europe spoke this language or that language, but everything was written in Latin.

    Nynorsk was started in order to try and provide Norwegians with a written version of the language that they actually spoke, rather than continuing to force their children to learn a new language just to write in.

    Icelandic is much closer to Old Norse than any surviving North Germanic language (which is the Scandinavian languages + Icelandic). Since they were isolated on an island, and were colonists, they tended towards linguistic conservation. A similar situation happened with English in the USA (only on a way smaller historical scale.)

    Overall though, Nynorsk is about as similar to Icelandic as Danish/Bokmal, and Swedish are. The three "languages" are reasonably mutually intelligible, and mutually unintelligible with Icelandic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:06AM (#28747797)

    The problem with that anecdote is that while there are definitely Inuits in modern Greenland they are relative newcomers to the island, and only started to appear in the 14th century, long after the Viking age

    The Vikings never mention Eskimos of any tribe, the Skraelingjar are obviously not Eskimos and are found in Vinland ie North America, not Greenland

  • by jlar ( 584848 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:45AM (#28747991)

    Well, Wikipedia does not agree with you: []

    I have found a reference to the story. It is from Historia Norwegia and the quote I was looking for is for example referenced in this NYT 1911 article: []

    So the full quote was actually (about the Skraelings of Greenland):

    "...they are struok with weapons when alive, their wounds are white and do not bleed, but when they are dead the blood scarcely stops running."

  • by celtic_hackr ( 579828 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:33PM (#28748271) Journal

    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?

    Information that was unknowable? What information?

    If you'd bother to look at the map which is part of the Wikipedia article linked in this article, you'd see, there is no Australia on that map. As far as Japan. Japan was certainly known. You know from the Silk road trade routes with China and the spice routes that existed back into antiquity. You know those primitives like the Greeks and Romans and earlier civilizations that all had trade with China. Ever heard of Marco Polo (1254-1324), who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries? He went to China and knew of Japan. Japan was written about as early as his visit and his story was widely and wildly popular in Europe. So to say it was unknowable that Japan existed is the exact opposite of what is true. It would have been almost impossible to NOT know about Japan in the 15th century. I see nothing on the map that was unknowable in the 15th century.

    I guess this is part of the reason why you are NOT an expert on ancient maps and forgeries. Although, the first thing that I thought of was, maybe someone added Vinland to a genuine 15th century map. I'm no expert, but if I were that'd be on the things I'd spend five years trying to (dis/)prove.

  • As a Norwegian I am embarassed by those of my countrymen that routinely describe "Leif Eiriksson" and "Snorre Sturlason" - Snorri was his name, and he was Sturluson - as Norwegians. They were both so Icelandic, although Leifur went to Greenland along with his father and might also be called a Greenlander,,, Snorri's writings are very important to us, too important to want to claim him for our own - especially since he was murdered by order of the then King of Norway. Wet ops even then. Sorry, Iceland.
  • Re:hm (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2009 @01:11PM (#28748487)

    Except there are references in the Sagas to other lands in the area, Helluland, which fits the description of Baffin Island, Markland, which fits the description of Labrador (as is likely the landmass discovered accidentally around 15 years prior), and Vinland, which is the one they established a colony on.

    There's only mention of one colony, and precisely one colony was found, in Newfoundland.

  • Re:Good Point... (Score:3, Informative)

    by el3mentary ( 1349033 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @03:18PM (#28749297)

    You sir are an idiot, the value of any art is the value someone is willing to pay for it irrespective of how good the actual art is in your infallible opinion.

  • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @04:43PM (#28750003)

    So to say it was unknowable that Japan existed is the exact opposite of what is true.

    Good points, well made, and I agree.

    Also, on a more fundamental level, all things that are true and affect our reality are knowable. Using the word unknowable to mean "I don't understand how they could have found out" is an abuse of logic.

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