Christopher Columbus’s status as a pioneering explorer is in doubt, again.
A handful of bright blue beads have led historians and archaeologists to debate over a new study that may challenge the story that Columbus was the first European to colonize the New World in the late 15th century.
The blue crystal balls unearthed in Alaska may have Venetian origins, according to a report in American Antiquity magazine, and presumably traveled 10,500 miles from Italy through Eurasia and into the Arctic territory of Alaska, just across the strait land bridge. from Bering that once connected North America and Siberia.
Radiocarbon dating of the string attached to the beads, probably made from bush willow bark, indicates that the bracelet may date back to the 14th or 15th centuries, possibly prior to Columbus’s voyage in 1492. However, the margin of Possibility also suggests origins as late as the 16th or 17th centuries.
“We were in awe, because that was before Columbus discovered the New World, by several decades,” University of Alaska researcher Michael Kunz told Live Science.
If the researchers’ hypotheses are true, the accounts would be the oldest known European artifacts to have reached North America.
However, critics argue that the style of glass beads, called “drawn” beads, are not consistent with the range from the 14th to the 15th centuries, as all previous research has indicated that this type was not made before the century XVI.
“These accounts cannot be pre-Columbian, because Europeans weren’t doing accounts of this kind so early,” said Elliot Blair, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama, who was not involved in the study. He told Live Science that even without the pre-Columbian look, the results suggest a “really cool story.”
“Even with this late dating, an early 17th century date for these accounts is still much earlier than the first documented contact between Alaska Natives and Europeans.”
Kunz acknowledged that his study “goes against the grain” by stating that the drawn beads may have been produced a few centuries earlier than we previously thought. “But we have good strong scientific evidence (radiocarbon dating, instrumental neutron activation analysis) that supports what we are saying,” he said.
Regardless of the exact age of the beads, accounts historian and expert Karlis Karklins, who also spoke to the scientific community, said the study authors can rely on their claims that these beads are in fact the oldest European products ever. found in Alaska.
“How they got to distant Alaska from Western Europe in the latter part of the 16th or early 17th century is a mystery in itself,” Karklins said. “That really invites serious investigation.”
It is well known that Leif Erikson led a crew of Norwegian Vikings to Canada and Greenland, reaching the Great White North more than 500 years before Columbus. However, historians continue to understand that Columbus’s landing in the West Indies was the impetus for the systemic colonization of several European countries, including Italy, Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands.