Renaissance-Era Venetian Beads Found in Alaska Were There Before Columbus

Recently discovered artifacts tell us something surprising about the history and what we know about the discovery of America. In popular culture, the discovery of the New World is attributed to Columbus, but recent findings tell a different story, one in which Columbus might not have been the first European to stumble upon the land.
Evidence found by archeologists shows that Norse Vikings have reached Newfoundland long before Columbus, in 1000 CE. What makes this even more plausible is a report published by American Antiquity that talks about the finding of Venetian glass beads in sites over Alaska.
The beads are thought to date back to the mid-15th century and they are blue glass “trade beads”, used by European traders centuries ago. Since the indigenous people of the Americas did not have access to glass, they were considered highly valuable.
This type of glass is the same that later become known in Europe as Murano glass or beads and researchers are still investigating how they ended up in Alaska. After analyzing organic material found on the site, wrapped around the beads, archeologists discovered that these have been formed sometime between 1440 and 1480.
Columbus arrived there in 1492, so these beads are the sign of a trade relationship between Europe and the Americas which existed long before the explorer’s arrival.
This discovery changes the narrative behind Columbus’ discovery and what is known about the history of the new land.

Researchers discovered Venetian glass beads in Alaska which date to the mid-15th century, decades before Columbus arrived in the Bahamas.

Copper jewelry found near some of the Venetian glass beads at Punyik Point. (Photo: M.L. Kunz et al., American Antiquity, 2021)

The beads were dated using the carbon-dating of a piece of organic twine wrapped around some copper jewelry found with the beads.

Some of the routes considered part of the Silk Road network. (Photo: Kelvin Case via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0])

The beads likely traveled along the Silk Road from Venice to what is now the far eastern corner of Russia, where they then were traded by ship across the Bering Strait.

NASA satellite image showing the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons [Public domain])

source: [IFL Science]

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