Saturday, January 6, 2018

Did Ancient Norsemen Sail the St. Lawrence River? – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding the likelihood that Norse seaman were in the interior of Canada, and writing on rock such as the Peterborough petroglyphs, as well as looking now at what these petroglyphs actually were and who made them.
    However, archaeologist David Kelley did not agree with Barry Fell’s translation, though he agreed it was likely left by Scandinavian traders, estimating the date 900 years later than Fell, to be 800 B.C. In addition, Fell was also contradicted by Edo Nyland, an expert in linguistic archaeology, and the evolution of European and other languages. He claims no such writing was found on the petroglyphs, saying Fell took some characters and assigned English letters to them, but that none are connected into a sentence. It is also stated that while Fell used Gaelic for the translation, Gaelic was not a language until 700 A.D., and that the early Gnostics used Basque exclusively, though he did not go so far as to claim Fell was wrong in his belief that the Norse king visited North America. On the other hand, many academics scoffed at Fell’s claims, though Kelleys reputation was more secure, having earned fame for his decipherment of Mayan glyphs. Patrick Huyghe, a science journalist, stated that Fell was well aware that many of the inscriptions at the Peterborough site were the work of later Algonquin artists attempting to imitate what had originally been cut into the limestone, claiming that the central sungod and Moon goddess figures and certain astronomical signs were clearly not Algonquin.”   
    Still, it should be kept in mind that in this period, the Norse did not have a written language. What they spoke was, Old Norse, the most widely spoken European language, ranging from Greenland and Iceland in the West to the Volga River in the East and referred to as donsk tunga, or Danish tongue, sometimes called norront mal (Nordic or Northern speech) and today, referred to as Old Norse (there were three dialects: 1] Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian, called Old West Norse, 2] Old East Norse, and 3] Old Gutnish, or Gotland), a North Germanic language spoken by the Scandinavians during the ninth to thirteenth centuries A.D., which developed into the modern North Germanic language in the mid- to late fourteenth century. The orthography of the Old Norse language did not begin until about 200 to 300 A.D., and was diverse, being written in both Runic (pre-Latin) and Latin alphabets, with many spelling conventions, variant letter forms, and unique letters and signs. It was not until modern times that scholars established a standardized spelling for the language. It might be noted that the earliest runic inscriptions (runestones) or Germanic linguistics, is dated to 150 A.D., with the Eder Futhark, 150-800 A.D., and the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, 400 to 1100 A.D., and the younger Futhark, 800 to 1100 A.D., with the oldest found in Denmark and northern Germany.
    It should be noted that the entire idea that Scandinavians made these petroglyphs, or at least some of them, rests almost entirely on a single issuethe appearance of a petroglyph rune that has been interpreted as a boat that is believed to be different than any boat the Algonquins used, such as their canoes.
    There are some mysteries surrounding these remarkable petroglyphssuch as the so-called boat carvings that are claimed to bear no resemblance to the traditional boat of the Native Americansthat is a canoe. As mentioned earlier, one ruin believed to be a stylized shaman vessel with a long mast surmounted by a sail that looks like a sun and claimed to be typical of petroglyphs found in northern Russia and Scandinavia. In fact, these modern experts go so far as to say this boat is not a canoe since it has what they consider a sail and also an outside steering oar as well as men oaring the craft.
Upper left: Considered to be a boat with a sail (yellow circle) and also an outside steering oar (green circle). Upper right: However, the steering oar is also a singular design found in several places among the petroglyphs; Bottom row: The so-called sail or sunis found in numerous designs, both alone, on a pole, and above a man, and not connected to a boatsuggests the fallacy of it being a sail 

As stated earlier, trying to claim one knows what a petroglyph means, or how it is interpreted without other corroborating evidence, is almost foolhardycertainly not something as concrete as a written record, yet historians and others love to claim meanings to this or that because it fits into their pre-conceived beliefs and ideologies. Yet, for every opinion stated in such endeavors, there are counter-opinions, not always equally stated in such discussions.
    It should also be kept in mind that the people who interpret such works are often pre-disposed to believe in certain things, like in this case of a belief that there were Scandinavians in the interior of Canada a thousand years ago, let along in 1700 B.C., when absolutely no concrete evidence suggests such a thing. That Vinland was known only from old Norse sagas and medieval historiography was proven in 1960 by archaeologists who uncovered such a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland, fitting the saga of Erik the Red in about 1000 A.D.; however, it has also been found that this settlement was short-lived and abandoned not long after settlement and was likely a temporary location to weather out the winter. There is even a controversy whether the vin in Vinland (found in the Groenlendingas saga) references the Latin word meadow, or if it references vimber, which means wineberry, since grapes for wine do not grow naturally in Newfoundland.
    It might also be noted that the Norse were not considered masters of the sea until the eighth century A.D., more than 2000 years after the time some historians claim they were in Canada writing on the Petroglyph rock at Peterborough. However, it was between the eighth and twelfth centuries A.D., that the Norse raiders conquered Ireland and the Faeroe Islands, then established settlements in Iceland, and invaded England and France, all in the eighth and ninth centuries. By the end of the tenth century A.D. they colonized Greenland and ventured as far as the Caspian Sea, and in the eleventh century they rounded Spain fought in the Mediterranean, and completely swarmed Sicily.  Toward the middle of this period they reached Helleland (Baffin Island), Markaland (Labrador), and Promontorium Winlandia (Newfoundland).
From Vinland, the Norse settlement on the northern tip of Newfoundland to Peterborough where the Petroglyphs are located is 1125 miles, an overland trip from Montreal of about 300 miles since not even Viking longboats could sail through the rapids at Lachineplus another 28 miles from Peterborough to the Petroglyphs 

It seems odd and more than a little speculative given the above and accepting dating sequences for someone like Fell to suddenly claim the Norse were in North America in 1700 B.C., and sailing down the St. Lawrenceat thatsuch a lack of understanding of the latter, by the way, can only come from looking at a map and seeing that the St. Lawrence flows south by southwest and looks like it flows downhill on the map, but in reality, as anyone who had ever tried movement on that river beyond the Gulf would know it flowed uphill toward the southwest, i.e., up the current. Obviously, such an idea as sailing down the St. Lawrence from the Gulf or the Atlantic toward the Great Lakes could only come from someone who had never done soan historians viewpoint, not one who had actually tried it, as any actual and factual historical record would show.

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