Cod, not elephants, brought down Greenland settlements

For the past ten years, Norse scholars have debated whether the breakdown in trade of walrus ivory brought down the Norse settlements in Greenland during the 15th century. In a new article, scholar Kirsten Seaver disputes the theory and offers her own: English cod fishing.

In the 15th century, Scandinavian settlers began to abandon their settlements in Greenland. Recent theories attributed the action to the new availability of elephant ivory over walrus ivory, but Kirsten Seaver believes this is not the case. In "Desirable teeth: the medieval trade in Arctic and African ivory," she offers another theory, English cod fishing which attracted Nordic fisherman to areas closer to the English trade.