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Leif Eriksson, Icelandic sagas, L'Anse aux Meadows, Bering Strait, Vinland

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According to archaeological evidence, human occupation of North America began during the late Pleistocene Epoch, when great sheets of ice covered much of the Northern Hemisphere. People are thought to have migrated to the continent from Asia over a land bridge across what is now the Bering Strait. Most anthropologist believe small bands of hunters and gathers crossed this land bridge at least 15,000 years ago; some scholars believe the earliest migrants arrived much earlier, perhaps 30,000 years ago or longer. From these beginnings human habitation is thought to have spread south and eastward.

These earliest inhabitants were Stone Age people, who lived by hunting and gathering, using implements not unlike those known from Southeast Asia. They were later supplanted by other migrants with more advanced tools. These people are believed to be the earliest ancestors of the Native North Americans who developed complex cultures and inhabited the continent at the time when Europeans first arrived.

Greenland, geologically a part of North America, was the first part of the Western Hemisphere reached by Europeans. According to Icelandic sagas, it was first explored and settled by Erick the Red. The first European to see any part of the continental mainland was probably Bjarni Herjˇlfsson, an Icelandic trader, who sighted it about ad 986. Then Leif Eriksson, the son of Erik the Red, made a voyage to a land he called Vinland or Wineland, believed to have been somewhere between Labrador and New England. This account was partly substantiated by the discovery in 1963 of a Viking-type settlement site at L'Anse aux Meadows, in northern Newfoundland. The ruins were determined to be from about 1000.

Article key phrases:

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