Which Europeans discovered America before Columbus?

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There's a group of people that formed a culture known as
the "Maritime Archaic" that traveled throughout New England
and Northern Europe about 9000 years ago, "island hopping"
back and forth to trade with each other. So certainly
early "Europeans" were in the New World in prehistoric times.

Within the era of recorded history, however, others before
Chris have been here, as this old poem illustrates: (Enjoy!)

(from Whiffs from Wild Meadows, Sam Walter Foss, circa 1880)

Now let us run the list over,
Of men preceding Christopher,
Who came before Columbus came, that laggard
dull and slow ;

The early Buddhist missionaries,
Those rapt religious visionaries,
Who thirteen hundred years ago discovered

An Irishman named Brendin
(The list is never ending)
He crossed the Sea of Darkness, crossed the wild,
untravelled main.

He thought that he would try a land
Some miles away from Ireland;
So he, twelve hundred years ago, discovered us

Leif Ericson, the Norseman,
A regular old sea-horseman,

Who rode the waves like stallions, and couldn t
endure the shore,
Five hundred years thereafter
Said to his wife in laughter,

" It s time to go and find, my dear, America once

And so he went and found it,
With the ocean all around it,
And just where Brendin left it five hundred years before ;

And then he cried, " Eureka !
I m a most successful seeker!"
And then went off and lost it, could not find
it any more.

They fought the sea, and crossed it,
And found a world and lost it ;
Those pre-Columbian voyagers were absent-minded men.

Their minds were so preoccupied,
That when a continent they espied,
They absently mislaid it, and it couldn t be found

But Columbus when he found us
Somehow kept his arm around us,
For he knew he must be careful when he found
a hemisphere ;

And he knew just how to use it,
And he didn t misplace and lose it,
And mislay it in a corner where it couldn t be
found next year.

Like a pretty worthless locket
He didn t put it in his pocket,
And drop the New World through a hole that he d
forgot to mend ;

But he kept his eye upon it,
And he kept his finger on it,
And he kept his grip upon it, and held on it to
the end.

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Excellent question! Many historians have argued that Columbus was not the first person to discover America, despite what the school history books relate. However, recent historical documents reveal a different story.

An nautical chart dated 1424 was discovered that revealed a map of the "New World" created by a Portuguese cartographer.  Armando Cortesão, a cartography expert asserts that this was made 70 years prior to Columbus.


For assistance with your research, I have included several articles that will assist you with your assignment!


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Columbus's "discovery" of America led to the permanent settlement of Europeans in North America. However, around the year 1000, Leif Eriksson and his men (I doubt there were any women) discovered America, too. They did not achieve any kind of permanent settlement, so they are seldom credited with the discovery. There have always been sagas about Leif Erikson and other Norse people in the New World, but archaeological evidence also establishes that they were here, generally in the northeastern sections of North America.  Many items clearly manufactured in Europe have been unearthed, including a cloak pin and a spindle whorl. I don't know why American history textbooks have always tended to ignore this part of our history, but it might be because the major areas of settlement on this continent were in what is now Canada. Also, since Columbus's voyage was so well documented, history tends to focus on it, rather than on what were previously regarded as just "stories."  I have provided on link for you that gives a good overview of the Vikings in the New World, and I am sure there are others. 

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Which Europeans discovered America before Christopher Columbus?

According to the Greenland Saga, the legendary stories of how Vikings Thorvald Arvaldson, Erik the Red and Leif Erikson (grandfather, father, and son) voyaged to Iceland, Greenland and North America. Apparently father Erik had some legal problems in his homeland of Norway and thought it best to take the advice given to him...leave or suffer grave consequences. As a result, Erik traveled to his father's Greenland, and settled a colony in Iceland. Several years later his son Leif voyaged to present day Newfoundland and Labrador in North America. In 1961 the archaeological excavation of Helge and Anne Ingstad provided evidence for the Greenland Saga. Their excavation at Epave Bay which they named L'Anse aux Meadows brought the (temporary) Viking colony to life. The remnants of the long houses and iron supplies radiocarbon dated between 990-1035-40 A.D. provide evidence that the Vikings were in America long before the Age of Exploration (Spain, Portugal, France, and England)


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Which Europeans discovered America before Christopher Columbus?

Without a specific map or route which specifically documents proof that "A" long trip was made coming our way, it would be hard to determine exactly who visited us first.

Also, be careful with the word "Europeans". References have been made about Norsemen and Celts, Vikings, and other groups, even Egyptians! (....and, of course, aliens)

Now, if you want to go on the safe side, it is accepted that people from Siberia travelled through the Bering Strait (when it was frozen and people could walk over it)  over 20,000 years ago all the way towards what we now call Central America and, generations later, developed massive tribes called the Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs, and the Incas.

If you reduce your argument to Europeans, you would be talking about continental Europe, and that is made of Eastern and Western Europe. No specific information (except for the one I wrote before) is historically accepted about actual continental Europe voyages to this side of the ocean.

But that is the beauty of history: There is NO "final answer."

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