Strand of Ancient Yarn Suggests Early European Presence in Canada 05.08.01   Search

Significant European Presence in Eastern Canada by 1000 A.D.

New York Times

Ancient yarn found in Eastern Canada shows European presence by 1000 A.D.

HULL, Quebec. A summer spent working at "Greenland's Pompeii" inspired one Canadian archaeologist to take a second look at Canadian collections of native artifacts gathered from Labrador and Baffin Island, a treeless Canadian Arctic region that Viking sagas call "Helluland," or the land of the flat stones.

In December 1999, Patricia Sutherland, an archaeologist, announced that she had found a 10- foot strand of ancient yarn in a collection of Dorset artifacts from Northern Baffin Island that were lying uncataloged here at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, where she is a curator. The yarn, she said in an interview, "is directly comparable to textiles from the Farm Beneath the Sand."

"The materials, the diameter, and the twist are all the same," she added.

Since the Dorset, forerunners of today's Inuit inhabitants of northern Canada, at the time dressed only in cut and stitched skins, the yarn implied contact with the Norse.

Now, as she studies of Canadian collections of native artifacts, she says, "I am finding new Norse materials every couple of weeks. It suggests there was a significant European presence in Eastern Canada in the centuries around 1000 A.D."


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