Sonntag, 15. März 2015

The Vikings at the Azores

The Vikings visited the Azores Islands, they left their house mouses there which are a proof of that

The Azores Islands - they are located in the middle of the Atlantic. 1369 kilometers away from Europe, 2342 kilometers away from Newfoundland in Canada. They are small, stormy islands with subtropical climate.

Viking vessel unearthed in Scandinavia
According to a new study (1) they were visited and settled by Vikings from Norway. Genetic studies found house mouses with ancestry from Norway at two islands of the Azores (1). For the island Madeira (not part of the Azores) genetic studies on house mouses some years ago had confirmed that they were visited by Vikings from Denmark. 

But there a hints on human settlement of tze Azores before the time of the Vikings: 200 years ago there were detected coins from Carthage of the 4th century b.c. at the Azores.

2006 a genetic study in humans found hints at the Azores of viking ancestry. The islanders have the highest rate of homozygotes for a northern european gene that is a protection against HIV-1. These genetic footprints can be found downwards to the isle São Tomé and Príncipe at the western coast of Africa (Human Biology 2006). Some quotes from the new study (1):
“Among the islands of the Azorean archipelago, Santa Maria and Terceira produced the most unexpected results. (…) The mice on Santa Maria are predominantly clade F, which unlike the other highly represented clades in the Azores (clades B, C and D) has not been found in either Portugal or southern Spain, nor in the neighbouring archipelagos of Madeira and the Canaries. Clade F has a geographical range that matches well with the realm of influence of the Norwegian Vikings (coastal Norway, northern and western Scotland, Ireland, Iceland: Jones et al., 2012). Norwegian Vikings were certainly transporting mice of this clade (based on sequencing of Viking Age mouse specimens from Iceland and Greenland: Jones et al., 2012), and were excellent mariners, and crossed enormous water gaps, so it is not inconceivable that they visited the Azores, leaving mice as evidence of that event, as suggested for Danish Vikings and Madeira (Gündüz et al., 2001; Förster et al., 2009). (…)
The first written document with a reference to the peopling of the Azores dates back to 1439, according to which the Portuguese crown ordered “sheep to be released in the seven Azorean islands in preparation for human settlement” (Crosby, 2004).”
The norwegian housemouse were found at the eastern Azores islands Terceira und Santa Maria. And (1):
“Interestingly, based on medieval maps and Scandinavian texts, Kelley (1979) has already speculated that Norwegian Vikings may have found their way to the Azores.”
For that see: (2). So, is this a new argument for the discussions around the Vinland map?
  1. Gabriel SI1, Mathias ML, Searle JB: Of mice and the “Age of Discovery” - The complex history of colonization of the Azorean archipelago by the house mouse (Mus musculus) as revealed by mitochondrial DNA variation. J Evol Biol. 2014 Nov 14. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12550
  2. Kelley Jr, J.E. 1979. Non-Mediterranean influences that shaped the Atlantic in the early Portolan charts. Imago Mundi, 31: 18–35
  3. Die Geschichte von Erich dem Roten und Leif dem Glücklichen. Die Saga von den Männern die auf Grönland siedeln und Amerika entdecken. Übertragen von Gustav Wenz. Verlag von Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig o.J. [1935] [Isländer-Geschichten. Hrsg. u. übertragen von Gustav Wenz, I. Reihe, 2. Bd.; zw. 1935 und 1937]


Ingo Bading hat gesagt…

There have been found more hints on travels from the Azores to Newfoundland:

L.M.C. hat gesagt…

A "viking fever" is starting in the Azores because some proofs have been found, including the azorean rats, which only exist in Norway. Aswell as some unknown ruins.
For me it is amazing because as a son of azoreans, we descend from flemish settlers who came in the end of XV century, and at the same time, they were the descendents of Rollo's Vikings. So, recently, a study found a norwegian gene within many central azoreans. Nothing surprising to me as many doctors and my dentist used to say I had caracteristics from Scandinavia. Thanks for your article.

Ingo Bading hat gesagt…

Thank you for your comment. Very interesting! I have done the sequencing of my genes by 23andMe and I am a descendent of flemish settlers too - coming to the Berlin-Brandenburg region in the dark ages.

But I think, the Azores were settled before the XVth century and the flemish settlers mixed with the inhabitants of viking origin, isn't it?

Ingo Bading hat gesagt…

Some weeks ago they have found a place, where the vikings harvested iron for the nails of their ships in Newfoundland. Which seems one more sign for more often traveling between Europe and America (via - maybe - the Azores).

JK hat gesagt…

My maternal (MtDNA) line is from the Azores, and goes back to my 7th great-grandmother, who died in 1742 in Vila do Porto, on the Azorean Island of Santa Maria. My Haplogroup is V. My closest maternal line matches are from the Azores, then two from Brazil and Spain. After that, all the matches are from Scandinavia.

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