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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.”

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