So who discovered America?

To the question: "Who discovered America?", Any schoolchild, without hesitation, will answer that Christopher Columbus did it, and this event took place in 1492. It is not without reason that on October 12, the New World celebrates Columbus Day in memory of the discovery of a new continent by Europeans.

But in the early twenties of the last century, this seemingly indisputable truth decided to refute the young Norwegian Helge Ingstad. He was born in 1899 in the small Norwegian town of Meroker, in 1922 he became a lawyer, but after a few years he unexpectedly sold his office and left for Canada. The successful lawyer decided to start looking for evidence that the ancient Vikings had been to America much earlier than Columbus.

Helge Ingstad

Ingstad justified his assumption briefly: "It is written in our sagas." But traces of the Viking presence on a distant continent were not immediately found, it took decades. All these years, the life of a Norwegian resembled an adventure novel. For four years he hunted fur-bearing animals in Canada, was the governor of Eric the Red Land in East Greenland. From 1933 to 1935 - Governor of Svalbard. In the early 50s, he organized an ethnographic expedition to Northern Alaska.

And only in 1960, the dream of the stubborn Norwegian came true: in the north of Newfoundland, near the village of Lance aux Meadows, he managed to find traces of an ancient settlement. An archaeological expedition, which included archaeologists from many countries, carried out excavations for several years, and in 1964 a sensational conclusion was made: this is a Norman settlement of the 10th century. The Vikings visited America 500 years earlier than Columbus.

Monument to Leif Eriksson in St. Paul (Minnesota).

In the same 1964, Ingstad made a report to the US Congress, after which President Johnson signed a decree according to which, October 9 was declared the Day of Leif Ericsson, the Norman recognized as the discoverer of America. However, Columbus Day was not canceled, these two dates got along peacefully. It's just that October 9 is called America's Discovery Day.

Helge Ingstad himself died on March 29, 2001 at the 102nd year of his life. His discovery has often been compared to the discovery of Troy by the archaeologist Schliemann. Until the end of his life, to the question: "So who discovered America?", Ingstad did not hesitate to answer: "Viking Leif Ericsson!" By the way, the Norwegian did not have a diploma of a historian or archeologist, but his knowledge in these areas was simply encyclopedic.