There’s only one confirmed Viking settlement in North America, far north on the Canadian coast. But if a new team of space archaeologists and their satellite data is to be believed, that’s all about to change.

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A PBS program set to broadcast next week has the story of a potential Viking site much further south, on the southwest tip of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. It was found using infrared satellite imagery by Sarah H. Parcak, a leading space archaeologist. She used the satellite images to identify “hotspots”, which were narrowed down to one site at Point Rosee.

Further excavations have revealed a Viking-style turf wall, which radiocarbon tests date back to the Norse era. The evidence is still circumstantial, however, and it’s positive proof of a new Viking settlement in North America.

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In either case, it’s already a validation of new technology in very old history. Aerial images have long been used to track ancient structures and burial mounds, but infrared satellite imaging gives archaeologists a valuable new tool. Maybe the next Indiana Jones movie will involve fewer boulders, and more time spent digitally enhancing images.

The documentary will stream online next Monday on PBS at 3.30PM Eastern.

[New York Times]

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Image credit: DigitalGlobe