New Research Suggests The Reason Why Vikings Vanished From Greenland During The 1400s Was Walrus Hunting For Ivory Trades

wayne - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual walrus

For centuries, the mystery of why Norse populations vanished in Greenland in the 15th century has persisted.

However, a study suggests that the reason behind their disappearance may have been due to the hunting of walruses.

Researchers analyzed a collection of medieval artifacts from museums across Europe. After examining walrus bones, tusks, and objects created from the marine mammal’s ivory, they were able to narrow down the origins of the artifacts.

Most of the ivory in Europe came from the east before the Norse settlement’s peak, which was from the mid-1100s to the year 1400.

But, a major shift in trade led to Greenland becoming the primary source of ivory. At one point, at least 80 percent of walrus ivory came from Greenland. The Norse Vikings depended on farming, fishing, and trade, in particular, for survival.

“If they wanted to survive in Greenland, they actually had to trade because there were items they just couldn’t get—like raw materials such as iron,” said Jette Arneborg from the National Museum of Denmark, who was not involved with the study. “So from day one, they needed something to trade—and we, of course, suspect it was the walrus tusks that were their main trade item.”

As the value of ivory declined in Europe, the Norse Vikings had to keep collecting more and more tusks for their economy to thrive.

They were forced to travel deeper into the Arctic Circle for ivory, which would have exacerbated the decline of walrus populations.

When combined with other challenges, their hunting may have become unsustainable, resulting in their demise.

wayne – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual walrus

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