Physics Meets History in Solving Greenland Mystery

Europhysics News: An extensive article on Carbon-14 dating of the Norsemen in Greenland appears in the May/June 2002 issue of Europhysics News. Scientists from Denmark and Iceland have been studying the Viking culture in Greenland by using radiocarbon (C-14) dating. Of particular interest is the changes in the diet of the settlers and how it affected their bones.

The Norse, from Norway and the northern British islands, brought civilization to Iceland and Greenland sometime after 900 CE. Most were farmers who crossed the sea and colonized the islands, bringing with them their families, livestock, and culture, but by the 15th century, most seem to have disappeared from the area. The new research hopes to find a reason for the disappearance, using modern methods.