The Lost Vikings of Greenland (Documentary)
The mystery of the Vikings in Greenland
‘The west coast of Greenland was the site of a thriving Viking colony for hundreds of years. Originally settled by explorers who had bravely sailed across the treacherous North Atlantic from their homes in Scandinavia, the Greenland outpost grew into a farming community of thousands. And then something went terribly wrong. Visitors in the 1400s reported that the inhabitants had simply vanished, leaving no bodies and few clues about what could have happened.
Speculation has long centered on suddenly adverse weather conditions or possibly a war with local Inuit people, but in this documentary, an installment of PBS’s Secrets of the Dead set, a team of archaeologists, forensic anthropologists, and botanists visit a desolate and remote stretch of the Greenland coast and solve the mystery of the lost Vikings.
The archaeological record, combined with the scant written accounts of how the settlers lived, begin to reveal some surprising evidence. And a complicated story involving a “mini ice age” emerges. The compelling theory indicates that worsening conditions, coupled with strict religious beliefs that kept the Greenland Vikings from adapting by learning the ways of the natives, sealed their fate. This is a captivating look at a little-known mystery.’
— Robert J. McNamara
The Fate of the Greenlandic Vikings
After establishing the first settlements in Iceland during the 9th and 10th centuries, the Vikings headed westward for Greenland in order to find more land to use for farming and create colonies. They firstly settled in the southern part of Greenland and subsequently on the western coast during the late part of the 10th century.
The discovery of Greenland by the Norsemen took place during the Viking Age and is documented in the Icelandic chronicle entitled ‘Íslendingabók’ — ‘The Book of the Icelanders’. It is believed that the large frozen island was discovered by Erik the Red around 985. Erik the Red, a legendary Norse explorer, gave the newly discovered territory the name ‘Greenland’ in order to encourage potential colonists to move in.
Even though many archaeological findings and collected weather data suggest that Greenland’s climate was initially more warmer than it is today, the Norsemen perished in the centuries to come, partly because of the worsening climate.
Many theories have been actually put forth in order to explain what exactly caused the extinction of the Vikings from Greenland (one theory, for instance, asserts that the Vikings might not have been spurred by warm climate to set foot on Greenlandic soil). The documentary below was made in the purpose of finding plausible answers to this enigma.
- Viking were not spurred to Greenland by warm weather, research shows on www.theguardian.com
- The Fate of Greenland’s Vikings on www.archive.archaeology.org
- Abandoned Colony in Greenland: Archaeologists Find Clues to Viking Mystery on www.spiegel.de
- The Viking Period on www.greenland.com