Vikings spread smallpox around the world 1,400 years ago

A thousand years before the great epidemics

Viking bones from 1,400 years ago

Researchers found the oldest smallpox strain in the teeth of Vikings, the remains of which were recently discovered. Now the Covid-19 travels faster.

Vikings suffered from smallpox and spread it throughout the world during their travels. Scientists from the University of Cambridge came to that conclusion, finding traces of the disease in skeletal teeth from 1,400 years ago, proof that this deadly disease has been tormenting humanity for at least 1,000 years more than previously thought.

The virus was found after carrying out genetic analyzes on grave remains with skeletons found in different countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and Russia. This implies that the disease spread to northern Europe about 1,000 years before the first devastating epidemics began.

Norwegian Viking Ship Draken Harald Hårfagre

Professor Eske Willerslev, director of the research team, commented: “We already knew that Vikings were moving around Europe and beyond, and now we know they had smallpox.” He also compared the spread of that disease to that of covid-19: “People traveling the world spread the coronavirus quickly, and the Vikings likely did the same with smallpox. Only at that time they were traveling by boat instead of by plane. ”

The structure of the virus they found in the remains of 1,200 to 1,400 years ago, the researchers explain, is different from the smallpox that killed nearly 300 million people during the 20th century, before the disease was completely eradicated in 1980. thanks to a global vaccination plan.


Did you know? The Vikings in Newfoundland and the Resistance of the Boethuk

Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

Excerpt from Mi’kmaq & First Nations Timeline  (75,000 BC – 2000 AD): Eclipse & Enlightenment

Shunpiking Magazine

986: Bad weather drives Icelandic trader Bjarni Herjolfsson and his crew off course on their way from Iceland to meet his father at the new Viking colony in Greenland. They sight Newfoundland but don’t go ashore. Eventually they ride a southwest wind back to the Eastern Greenland settlement at Herjolfsnes (Ikigait), Greenland.

1001-02: Icelandic trader Bjarni Herjolfsson returns to his home in Greenland. Leif Eiriksson buys his ship, hires a crew of 35 men, sails west and discovers Helluland (Baffin Island), Markland (Labrador) and Vinland (Newfoundland). They stay the winter in Leifsbudir (L’Anse aux Meadows), on the northern tip of Newfoundland (near present-day St Anthony’s) and overlooking the Strait of Belle Isle separating it from Labrador.

1002: Thorvald Eiriksson, Leif’s brother, learns of his exploits, sails with a crew to L’Anse aux Meadows and spends the winter there in peace.

1003: Thorvald Eiriksson explores Newfoundland’s west coast and returns to spend another winter at L’Anse aux Meadows.

1004: Thorvald Eiriksson ventures through other parts of Newfoundland and is killed by an arrow during an exchange with the Skrælings (Beothuk). His crew returns and winters at L’Anse aux Meadows, returning the next year to Greenland with the news of his death.

1005: Thorstein Eiriksson, Thorvald’s brother, sets out for Labrador to retrieve the body of his brother. However foul weather prevents him from making much progress all summer and he returns to Greenland.

1006: Fiorfinn Karlsefni, a wealthy Norse, leads a colonizing expedition to Vinland (NF) with three ships, 160 men (some with their wives) and a bull, along with other livestock. Leif Eiriksson agrees to lend Fiorfinn Karlsefni his houses at L’Anse aux Meadows. The expedition spends a peaceful winter at there.

1007: Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, wife of Fihorfinn Eiriksson, gives birth to Snorri Fiorfinnsson, thus the first known European to be born in Newfoundland. The Norse colonists first meet and trade with the natives.

1008: A Skrælings (Beothuk) is killed while trying to steal weapons from Thorfinn Eiriksson. A battle with the Beothuk later ensues.

1009: The Fiorfinn Karlsefni expedition returns to Greenland where they spend the winter.

1010: Frøydis Eiriksdottir, sister of Leif Eiriksson, and a crew mount a joint expedition with Icelanders Helgi and Finnbogi to L’Anse aux Meadows. Mistrust and murder rack the expedition.

1011: Frøydis Eiriksdottir, having murdered Helgi and Finnbogi’s crew, returns to Greenland in early summer with the remaining members of the expedition.

1000-1011? Kluscap meets with the Norse in Newfoundland during one of his travels. After being shipwrecked, the Norse were repairing their longship and Kluscap offered to help. One of the young Norse girls is very impressed with Kluscap and might even have fallen in love with him. For Kluscap this is an honour and as a token of his appreciation he offers her his necklace. He even invites the Norse to visit his village when their ship is repaired. Upon returning to his village he tells everyone of his adventure with the white men and as nobody believes him, they give him his name, Kluskap (one who tells tall tales), which is what we know him by today. Sometime after, someone found Kluskap’s necklace lying on a shore in Newfoundland and brings it back to Kluskap. Upon examining the necklace more closely he finds blood and a small amount of blonde hair which could only mean that the Norse have been killed, obviously by the Beothuk who had expelled the Norse from Newfoundland.

Another probable early contact was with Basque fishermen who visit their secret fishing areas, the Grand Banks.

1347: The Norse stop coming to North America. “The Norse failure to adapt agricultural practices to a changing climate appears to have been a major factor in the decline of their Greenland settlements.” (Jason Hall, “Maliseet Cultivation and Climatic Resilience on the Wəlastəkw/St. John River During the Little Ice Age,” Acadiensis XLIV, no. 2 (Summer/Autumn 2015): 3-25.)

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