First Americans ‘reached Europe 500 years before Columbus voyages’

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LONDON - Scientists, who studied the genetic origins of an Icelandic family, have claimed that the first Americans reached Europe a full five centuries before Christopher Columbus set off on his first voyage of discovery in 1492.

Experts from the Centre for Scientific Research, Spain, said that a woman from the Americas probably arrived in Iceland 1,000 years ago, leaving behind genes that are reflected in about 80 Icelanders today, reports the Telegraph.

Investigators discovered the genes could be traced to common ancestors in the south of Iceland, near the Vatnaj Kull glacier, in around 1710, ruling out initial theories that they may have arrived via Asia.

“As the island was practically isolated from the 10th century onwards, the most probable hypothesis is that these genes correspond to an Amerindian woman who was taken from America by the Vikings some time around the year 1000,” said Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Pompeu Fabra university in Spain.

Norse sagas suggested the Vikings discovered the Americas centuries before Columbus, and the latest data seems to support the hypothesis that they may have brought American Indians back with them to northern Europe.

A Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, in the eastern Canadian region of Terranova, is thought to date to the 11th century.

Researchers said they would keep trying to determine when the Amerindian genes first arrived in Iceland and would seek to link them to burial remains in the Americas.

The genetic research is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. (ANI)

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