30 July 2010

ANCIENT NORSE COLONIES HIT BAD CLIMATE TIMES

The following article from the Science News is yet another substantiation of my contention that the inhabitants of the Norse Greenland settlements, the subject of my Axe of Iron series of character-driven, historical fiction books, and their disappearance from Greenland, may be attributed, at least in part, to climate change. These ancient people had no choice in the matter, they could starve on Greenland or move south to assimilate with the pre-historical natives of North America. As you will see in my books, through their eyes, that is precisely what they did, beginning soon after Leif Eiriksson's voyage of  discovery sometime between AD 997-1000.
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ANCIENT NORSE COLONIES HIT BAD CLIMATE TIMES
Temperatures in Iceland plummeted soon after settlers arrived

By Alexandra Witze
Monday, March 8th, 2010


New research reveals just how bad an idea it was to colonize Greenland and Iceland more than a millennium ago: average temperatures in Iceland plummeted nearly 6°Celsius in the century that followed the island’s Norse settlement in about A.D. 870(sic), a climate record gleaned from mollusk shells shows.

The record is the most precise year-by-year chronology yet of temperatures experienced by the northern Norse colonies, says William Patterson, an isotope geochemist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who led the new work. The study will appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’re aware from written documents of the kinds of things that people faced in the North Atlantic over the last 1,000 years,” he says. “This is a way to quantify the experiences they had.”

For instance, Icelandic sagas mention several famines that took place in the first century after settlement, at the time temperatures were dropping. But Astrid Ogilvie, an Arctic historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says it’s a stretch to blame those famines — in which, as one saga describes it, “the old and helpless were killed and thrown over cliffs” — totally on climate.

The mollusk temperature record is “all tremendously interesting,” she says, “but there is a caveat — we can’t be 100 percent sure that climate was involved” in the famine.

The study will, however, help historians better understand exactly what was going on in the Norse settlements over the years, Ogilvie says.

Patterson’s team made detailed measurements of oxygen isotopes contained within 26 mollusk shells taken from sediment cores drilled off the northwestern coast of Iceland. The ratio of oxygen-16 to oxygen-18 in the shells varies depending on water temperature, so the amounts of the two isotopes can be used as a proxy to gauge how hot or cold things were.

The shells show a large amount of variation both within years and from year to year. For instance, the researchers say, winter temperature variability increased between 990 and 1120, a time when written records suggest that crops occasionally failed. By 1250, things heated up again and summer temperatures reached 10°C, possibly the highest in three centuries. Within decades, though, temperatures began to plunge again.

While Iceland remained settled through the modern day, Norse settlements in Greenland were abandoned by the early 15th century. Many researchers believe that climate changes played at least a minor role.

22 July 2010

Ghostly face carving unearthed from Arctic site of extinct Dorset culture

Montreal Gazette
July 21, 2010

A Quebec archeologist has unearthed the ghostly carving of a face left buried on a remote Arctic island inhabited 1,000 years ago by the extinct Dorset culture the native people who mysteriously vanished from Canada's North after the ancestors of modern day Inuit arrived in this country.

The small, elaborately sculpted "maskette" - possibly worn as an amulet by a shaman serving as a Dorset tribe's guide to the spiritual world - is believed to have been made from walrus ivory and was found on one of the Nuvuk Islands at the northwestern tip of Quebec's Ungava Peninsula.

Traces of the long-lost Dorset or "Paleo-Eskimo" people, who are known to have evolved an artistically advanced society despite their harsh Arctic living conditions, are among the most prized discoveries in Canadian archaeology.

And the carved face, possibly meant to depict a female elder who provided leadership to her community, represents a particularly evocative image, with ears, eyes, nose and mouth all clearly defined on the elongated piece of ivory.

"It may have had some kind of shamanic meaning, but of course we can only offer various possible explanations," Susan Lofthouse, an archeologist with the Montreal-based Avataq Cultural Institute, told Postmedia News.

"Alternatively it could have served as a toy, or some kind of good luck amulet."

Measuring just five centimetres in length, the object was discovered last year during a dig at a known Dorset dwelling site by a group of Lofthouse-led Inuit high school students from nearby Ivujivik, along with graduate students from Universite Laval and Universite de Montreal.

"The moment of discovery was, of course, exciting," Lofthouse recalled. "I was helping one of the teenagers, Siaja Paningajak, excavate her square, and suddenly the maskette was uncovered."

Lofthouse noted that other Dorset depictions of human faces have been found over the years, but "none had the same level of detail that we can see in the Nuvuk Islands maskette."

Particularly intriguing is the possibility that horizontal lines etched below the figure's mouth could represent facial tattoos - a decorative art practiced by ancestral Inuit that may also have been used by the Dorset.

Remarkably, the ancient Inuit chin-tattooing tradition became part of a lively parliamentary debate in Ottawa last year as MPs weighed the merits of officially renaming the country's northern shipping route the "Canadian" Northwest Passage in a bid to symbolically strengthen the country's sovereignty claims in the region.

At the time, Inuit leaders successfully campaigned for the simultaneous adoption of an official aboriginal name for the waterway - "Tallurutik" - that is derived from the tattooing ritual among Canada's Inuit and a related landscape feature on Devon Island, at the eastern entrance to the passage, that appears as thin, dark lines running horizontally along shoreline cliffs.

"I do like the idea that (the maskette) could represent a woman, since distinct depictions of women are so rare in the Dorset archaeological record," said Lofthouse.

"Historically, Inuit women wore facial tattoos - in some areas this was still practiced in the last century," she added. "But we have no evidence one way or the other to tell us that Dorset women did the same thing."

See the historical fiction Axe of Iron series of books that details the Dorset culture and the Greenland Vikings who had relations with them. http://www.atlasbooks.com/marktplc/10367.htm

16 July 2010

Scandinavian Press Book Review of Axe of Iron: Confrontation

Click this link or the Blog title line to read the in depth review of Axe of Iron: Confrontation, the second book in the thrilling Axe of Iron series about the Greenland Vikings settlement in North America more than 1000-years ago.

09 July 2010

A Heartfelt review of the Axe of Iron series

Occasionally a truly heartfelt review comes along that consists of the actual opinion of a non-professional reviewer who has enjoyed reading a book. Mr. Walter Sopher's letter regarding the two published books of the Axe of Iron series is such a review--it is presented as written.
I appreciate Mr. Sopher's candor and enthusiasm for my book series about the Greenland Vikings adventures in North America.
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Web page: http://www.icelandic-goods.com/

E-mail: snorri@icelandic-goods.com

Walter & Julie Sopher, 16111-84th Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T5R 3Y4, (780) 481-3502
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Regarding the two Axe of Iron novels The Settlers and Confrontation by J.A. Hunsinger:

To me being a Canadian of Icelandic descent, as my great grand parents coming to Canada in 1883 from Iceland I have heard and read many books on the Icelanders, Vikings and the Icelanders that settled in Greenland not their choice but by the spirits of the world, when they were banished from Iceland for 3 years. And as the many Sagas tell us they did knot know where they were of to, but Eric did return to Iceland after his 3 years in exile and convinced many more Icelanders to follow him to Greenland.

Jerry has done a very good description of the Vikings, their mode of travel, food, navigation and made both the Novels very good and hard to stop reading always wondering what is next, all so real as his story could not be any better told and I do not speak as an expert but of a man that has lived most of his life working and living among the First Nations and Inuit people, from growing up in Riverton(NEW ICELAND) where most of the Icelandic Settlers lived and fished on Lake Winnipeg with the First Nations people, and the last 25 years in Canada’s North into the Beaufort Sea to the North and the Barrens land to the East

Jerry has told the story very easy to read and understand and he no doubt did his home work well and keeps the reader excited and wondering what is next

There are so many similar events in Egils Saga, Njalls Saga and other Sagas which I have several on hand but none as descripted (sic) as The Settlers or Confrontation books by Jerry Hunsinger, we could go on and on but I do know any one who starts to read this will keep on and say maybe our life today is pretty good not like the so called bad Vikings had to live and survive, and by time the first Vikings landed in Iceland around year 870 the plundering Vikings were only interested in peace and quiet, farming and fishing which is still done today

To sum it up Jerry has done a very good job of telling it like it is and I will be anxious to see the next new issue and suggest any people that able read this as it is very exciting and as one fellow said it would be a box office sell out as a movie.

We look forward to more of this interesting story soon and thank you for not letting the Viking story die.

Best Regards,

Walter Sopher

http://www.icelandic-goods.com/

02 July 2010

Confrontation Interview by Atlas Books for Author Spotlight

Click on blog title to read the interview by Atlas Books for publication--1July2010--of the second book in the Axe of Iron series about the Greenland Viking's settlement saga in Vinland (NorthAmerica) in what is now Quebec, Canada.