The collapse of the ivory ivory trade triggered a crisis for the Vikings

The first Viking settlers in Greenland had a

The collapse in the walrus tusk trade triggered an economic crisis for the first Viking settlers in Greenland that led to the collapse of their settlements and churches, according to new research.

The first settlers of Greenland enjoyed an "almost monopoly" in the supply of ivory from walrus tusks to Europe for more than 200 years.

The researchers said that this demand for luxury products produced from ivory may have helped remote Nordic communities in Greenland survive for centuries and allowed settlers to build thriving communities and buildings.

According to new research, the bubble exploded because elephant tusks became more popular than those of walruses. The arrival of the Black Death in the same period meant that people were less likely to invest in luxury products, scientists say.

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The first Viking settlers in Greenland had an "almost monopoly" in supplying ivory tusks from the walrus to Europe for more than 200 years, according to new research. The image shows a rostrum of walrus (bone of the upper jaw) with fangs that was used in the study

The analysis of the ancient DNA of the walrus suggests that the lost Nordic hordes of Greenland fed the medieval trade of ivory in Western Europe.

The Icelandic sagas speak of Erik the Red, who fled to the southwest of Greenland after being exiled for murder at the end of the tenth century and established the first Nordic settlement there.

In the middle of the XII century there were two important settlements with a population of thousands and Greenland even got its own bishop.

But by the end of the fifteenth century the Greenland Nordic had vanished, leaving only abandoned ruins and a lasting mystery.

Previous theories about why communities collapsed include a change in climate and an adherence to failed farming techniques.

Some have suggested that trade in commodities, especially walrus tusks, with Europe may have been vital to sustaining Greenland's residents.

Ornamented objects such as crucifixes and chess pieces were made of walrus ivory by artisans of the time.

But the source of this ivory has never been established empirically.

Now researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oslo in Norway have studied ancient DNA from cuts of fangs and skulls.

Most were found in the sites of ancient ivory workshops throughout Europe in order to trace the origin of animals used in medieval commerce.

In doing so, the researchers discovered an evolutionary division in the walrus and revealed that the Greenland colonies could have had an "almost monopoly" on the supply of ivory to Western Europe for more than 200 years.

For the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers analyzed walrus samples found in several medieval shopping centers: Trondheim, Bergen, Oslo, Dublin, London, Schleswig and Sigtuna.

The image is a bone of the upper jaw found during excavations in Bergen, Norway. The DNA showed that during the last Ice Age the Atlantic walrus was divided into two ancestral lines, which the researchers call "Oriental". and & # 39; western & # 39;

The image is a bone of the upper jaw found during excavations in Bergen, Norway. The DNA showed that during the last Ice Age the Atlantic walrus was divided into two ancestral lines, which the researchers call "Oriental". and & # 39; western & # 39;

The image is a bone of the upper jaw found during excavations in Bergen, Norway. The DNA showed that during the last Ice Age the Atlantic walrus was divided into two ancestral lines, which the researchers call "Oriental". and & # 39; western & # 39;

They mostly date between 900 and 1400 AD.

The DNA showed that during the last Ice Age the Atlantic walrus was divided into two ancestral lines, which the researchers call "Oriental". and & # 39; western & # 39;

The walruses of the Eastern lineage are scattered throughout much of the Arctic, including Scandinavia.

But those in the west are unique in the waters between western Greenland and Canada.

The findings of the first years of the ivory trade were mostly of the eastern lineage.

But as demand grew from the 12th century onwards, researchers discovered that Europe's ivory supply moved almost exclusively to the tusks of the Western lineage.

They say that from the western lineage the walruses must have been provided by the Nordic Greenlanders, by hunting and perhaps also by trade with the indigenous peoples of the Arctic of North America.

The co-author of the study, Dr. James Barrett of the Department of Archeology at the University of Cambridge, said: "The results suggest that by the 1100s Greenland had become the leading supplier of walrus ivory in Western Europe, almost a monopoly almost.

"The change in the ivory trade coincides with the flourishing of the Nordic settlements in Greenland, and populations grew and elaborate churches were built.

The walruses of the Eastern lineage are scattered throughout much of the Arctic, including Scandinavia. But those in the west are unique in the waters between western Greenland and Canada. The image shows an ivory plaque of the elaborate ecclesiastical walrus carved from the beginning of the medieval trade in ivory walrus

The walruses of the Eastern lineage are scattered throughout much of the Arctic, including Scandinavia. But those in the west are unique in the waters between western Greenland and Canada. The image shows an ivory plaque of the elaborate ecclesiastical walrus carved from the beginning of the medieval trade in ivory walrus

The walruses of the Eastern lineage are scattered throughout much of the Arctic, including Scandinavia. But those in the west are unique in the waters between western Greenland and Canada. The image shows an ivory plaque of the elaborate ecclesiastical walrus carved from the beginning of the medieval trade in ivory walrus

Later, the Icelandic accounts suggest that in the 1120s, the inhabitants of Greenland used walrus ivory to secure the right to their own bishopric from the king of Norway.

& # 39; Fangs were also used to pay tithes to the church & # 39;

Dr. Barrett said that the eleventh to thirteenth centuries were a time of demographic and economic boom in Europe, with a growing demand for urban centers and the elite served by transporting products from increasingly distant sources.

He said: "The demands for luxury goods produced from ivory may have helped the distant Nordic communities in Greenland survive for centuries."

Co-author Dr. Sanne Boessenkool of the University of Oslo said: "We knew from the beginning that the analysis of ancient DNA would have the potential for new historical knowledge, but the findings proved to be particularly spectacular."

Dr. Barrett said his findings tell us less about the end of the Greenland colonies, but the researchers noted that it is difficult to find evidence of ivory ivory imports in Europe dating back to 1400.

Elephant ivory eventually became the material of choice for artisans in Europe.

WHAT WERE THE VIKING TRAVELS OF DISCOVERY?

The Vikings made many voyages of discovery during its history, including stops in Europe and North America.

789AD The Vikings begin their attacks against England

Viking settlers 840AD found the city of Dublin in Ireland

844AD The Vikings invade Seville but are rejected

860AD Rus Vikings attack Constantinople

866AD York is captured by a Viking army

870AD The Vikings colonize Iceland

981AD Erik the Red discovers Greenland

986AD Bjarni Herjolfsson looks at North America after being ejected from the course

1002AD Leif Ericsson, son of Erik the Red, explores the coast of North America, called them Karland, Helluland and Vinland

1492AD The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus lands in the New World when he encounters the islands now known as The Bahamas.

Dr. Barrett said: "Changing tastes could have led to a decline in the walrus ivory market of the Middle Ages."

But he said Greenland's ivory exports could have stalled for other reasons, such as overhunting; the Little Ice Age & # 39; – a sustained period of lower temperatures that began in the fourteenth century; and the plague of the black plague that devastated Europe.

Dr. Barrett added: "Excessive dependence on a single commodity, just as it gave society its initial resilience, may also have contained the seeds of its vulnerability."

He said that the tusks were still exported to the walrus morro and walrus, which formed an ordered protection package that was divided into workshops for the extraction of ivory. These remains allowed the study to take place, since the extraction of DNA from carved artifacts would be too damaging.

Coauthor Dr. Bastiaan Star of the University of Oslo added: "Until now, there were no quantitative data to support the history of Greenland walrus ivory.

"The walruses could have been hunted in northern Russia, and perhaps even in Arctic Norway at that time.

"Our research now demonstrates without a doubt that much of the ivory marketed in Europe during the Middle Ages really came from Greenland."

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