Published:January 01, 1972
Early visits to the New World by men from Europe, Africa, and eastern Asia have been a favorite subject of conjecture for many years. The evidences usually cited are certain similarities in words, games, costumes, and architecture of the New and Old Worlds. The white and bearded Aztec god Quetzalcoatl was supposed to have introduced many arts and crafts, particularly metal working. He was reputed to have come from the east by ship and to have departed the same way after promising to return again. When Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico during 1519, he was greeted as Quetzalcoatl—an identification that was to prove to be of great advantage.
An early settlement by the Vikings in Greenland is well established, two colonies having been founded there by Eirik the Red after his exile from Iceland in 982 A.D. Close trade relations with Iceland and Norway existed until the Black Death plague reached Norway in 1349. Afterward, visits were rare, and the last known call of a ship at the Greenland colonies was in 1410. Nevertheless, the isolated settlement continued to survive until the death of the last inhabitant around 1540. Burials, artifacts, and the foundations of buildings at the sites of these colonies were described by Ingstad (1966). According to the famous Viking sagas, Björni Herjölfsson sighted three lands southwest of Greenland in 986 during a stormy voyage from Iceland to Greenland, and, in 1002, Leif Eiriksson searched for and found them again, naming the southernmost one “Vinland.”
Figures & Tables
Western North Atlantic Ocean: Topography, Rocks, Structure, Water, Life, and Sediments
The Atlantic coast of North America was the first part of the New World to be described by maps and texts; its exploration begain with the Vikings nearly a thousand years ago. Since then, the pace of exploration of both land and ocean floor has increased steadily. The concern during the 1960s was with details of geology, water, and life that largely were bypassed during earlier stages of discovery and exploration. The accumulation of knowledge was expressed approximately by the publication of charts, articles, and tabulations of data. This publication is concerned with the Atlantic continental margin of the United States, and it necessarily includes some information about the adjacent land and ocean areas. It is a summary of the existing knowledge of the ocean floor, the water above it, and the life that is in the water or at the bottom. The chapters contained within the publication fall into seven categories: Physiography, Rocks, Structure, Water, Life, Sediments, and Origin of Continental Margin.