Painful Truth: Real artifacts for fake history

Langley Advance Matthew Claxton delves into whether certain groups really visited the New World in centuries past.

It must have been melancholy, being among the last Norse settlers of North America.

There were never more than a few hundred of them, as far as we can tell from archaeology and references in ancient sagas. They landed in Newfoundland and established a settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, that’s for certain. And there are hints of artifacts from Baffin Island down to Maine.

But sometime between the year 1000 and 1100, they seem to have petered out. Perhaps they angered their First Nations neighbours, or they suffered illness and crop failures and cold winters. The last few either died alone, or slipped away quietly on a boat, back to Greenland or Iceland.

Of course, if the pseudo-historians are right, it might not have been so lonely. According to the more creative interpretations of history, the sea lanes were full of non-indigenous people, coming and going from the Americas in droves.

There were the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, who supposedly sailed across the Atlantic and leaving behind a few stone inscriptions (the largest an admitted hoax) and some coins (modern replicas).

Central American civilizations like the Olmecs apparently owed their rise to the presence of either African, Japanese, or Chinese sailors, depending on which theory you favour. A little further north, there’s the theory that the Zuni of New Mexico are the descendants of a band of wandering Japanese Buddhist monks, who for some reason decided to cross several thousand miles of mountains from the coast before settling down.

From Europe there was another constant stream – Welsh princes, Irish monks in coracles, Scottish noblemen, and of course, the ancient Romans (who were probably pretty upset that their enemies the Carthaginians had been there already!).

All of these folks managed to do two things: they left behind some ambiguous or outright fake coins, carvings, or pottery, and then they vanished.

Somehow, after discovering one (or two) massive new continents, packed with natural resources and full of their own thriving civilizations, they decided not to do anything further about it.

That’s the biggest reason to doubt most of these claims. The Norse wrote and spoke of North America, and lasted there for at least a few decades. But no one else seems to have left a convincing trace from the old world on the new.

Read Bob Groeneveld’s Odd Thoughts at