Map of North America drawn in Tolkein's style

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Etsy artist Andrew Creamer drew North America to look like Tolkein's Middle-Earth. Read the rest

Second North American Viking site suspected

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L'Anse Aux Meadows was the first, and until now the only site widely accepted as evidence of Viking settlement in the Americas. But then there were two—maybe.
A team of archeologists has found what may be the remains of a previously unknown Viking settlement on a south west shore of the Island of Newfoundland. If the remains can be confirmed, the site would make it just the second ever discovered that has given proof of Vikings inhabiting parts of North America. The team has been videotaping their work and a documentary of their efforts will be presented this month on PBS. Leading the research is archeologist and National Geographic fellow, Sarah Parcak, who has been described as a "space archaeologist" because of her groundbreaking use of satellite technology to uncover Egyptian ruins. In this latest effort, she and her team have altered their methods to uncover what appears to be evidence of Viking iron smelting.

They've found an iron hearth, full of old slag, surrounded by turf walls, and dated it to the Viking age. Further excavations are planned, and the researchers hope to reveal more evidence of a complete settlement. Read the rest

The oldest Confederate volcano tells all

TIL: There is an extinct volcano sitting directly beneath the city of Jackson, Mississippi. Specifically, it is approximately a half mile below the Mississippi Colosseum and state fairgrounds. In the late Cretaceous period — about 100 million years ago — this part of North America was under water. In fact, "North America" back then was actually more like a couple of mini-continents surrounded by ocean. The Jackson Volcano was the heart of a 400-square-mile island in that sea. It hasn't erupted in 65 million years, but the ground is still hot enough that some local wells pump up 102°F water. [Edited to add that the relationship between groundwater temp and the Jackson Volcano may not be accurate. Eric Klemetti — geoscientist and Wired blogger — told me he would be surprised if an extinct volcano was the source of that heat.] Read the rest