A Rare Pre-Columbian Norse Artifact Discovered in America
The Goddard site is an archeological location that holds the remains of an old Native American settlement. It is located at Naskeag Point, Brooklin, Maine on Penobscot Bay. A 1978 article in Time Magazine called the discovery an ancient Indian rubbish pile located near the coastal town of Blue Hill. After an intense study, a collection of 30,000 items from the area were donated to the Maine State Museum. Among these artifacts was an ancient Norwegian silver penny. The penny is unique because it has been traced to the reign of Olaf Kyrre (1067–1093 AD). This has intrigued scientists and raised questions surrounding the penny’s arrival in America and Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact.
One of a Kind
Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact describes the interaction between the indigenous people of the Americas and people from other continents, which occurred before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Many such occurrences have been proposed over the years, based on historical accounts, archaeological finds, and cultural comparisons. However, these claims are controversial and strongly debated in the scientific world. The Maine Penny is unique because it has been described as “the only pre-Columbian Norse artifact generally regarded as genuine found within the United States.” It is not debated that the object is a real Olaf Kyrre silver penny that was minted between the years 1065 and 1080 AD.
The Goddard archeological site has been dated to 1180-1235, which is within the circulation period of the Olaf penny. During this time in history, the Norse lived in Greenland and could have potentially visited North America. The penny’s coastal origin has been offered as evidence that the Vikings traveled further south than Newfoundland or that the coin might have been traded locally. However, the penny was the only Norse artifact found at the site. It was discovered by a local resident, Guy Mellgren, who claimed that he found the coin on August 18, 1957.
Since that time, Mellgren has been accused of creating an elaborate hoax. The general scientific opinion is that the artifact should be considered “not proven.” and may have been planted by Guy Mellgren. It has been suggested that the coin could have traveled to Maine via native Viking trade channels in Labrador or Newfoundland. The Maine Museum and the Smithsonian website favor the opinion that the artifact was discovered at the Goddard site and is therefore evidence of a Viking presence on the North American continent. It has been determined that there are enough questions regarding the Olaf silver penny to leave its archaeological significance as unclear and intriguing.