It’s rather surprising that I need to report this, but I’ve received an unusual number of emails from people who have supposedly heard the cache of Viking-era Norse artifacts had been discovered in Michigan. The report first surfaced on World News Daily Report in an article that quickly traveled across the internet, including on Stormfront.org. After describing the artifacts as a mixture of Northern European items, the report claims, in the original spelling and punctuation:
This is however the first Viking settlement discovered in the area of the North American Great Lakes, and this could bring a lot of new information concerning the actual extent of their trade network on the continent. The site is strategically located to enable control of the waterways leading to both Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, while enabling a navigable access to the St-Lawrence Bassin and the Atlantic Ocean. All of the items already already recovered have been transfered for further analysis to the Department of Archaeology of the University of Michigan, which has also inherited the responsability for the site. Further research should be done over the next months to complete the survey of the site and gather all possible remaining artefacts.
Obviously, this is not a professionally written piece; however, because it also made reference to actual recent archaeological work conducted in the Canadian north, it has fooled many into thinking that there is something to its claims. Many (but fortunately not all) readers commenting on the original post were convinced of its authenticity and launched into paranoid intimations of conspiracy, as in the following comments from five concerned readers:
I just hope these items don’t disappear in the great black hole of “official custody“ like everything else does.
Anti-government paranoia, rants against freeloading minorities, and uncritical acceptance of both claims without evidence and convenient lies. It’s the underbelly of fringe history laid bare.
Even a moment’s research should have disproved the story. The photo of the “artifacts” on the report page (as Brad Lepper discovered) is actually of items on display in a Norwegian museum.
Even more obviously, the website is a fake news site that publishes only fabricated pseudo-stories. They don’t make this explicit, but in claiming to be a Zionist newspaper staffed by former Mossad agents and Muslims working for New World Order Media, there’s a pretty good indication it’s not entirely on the up and up. Its headlines speak for themselves. One says that a man built a complete space shuttle with a 3D printer; another that chimpanzees recently discovered fire. Most famously, the site once claimed that a dinosaur egg hatched in a museum when a heater malfunctioned. The articles are all just plausible enough to go viral without having the satirical edge of the Onion.
Confusingly, the people who run World News Daily Report tend to freely mix fact and fiction. In April they “broke” the story that Steven Collins—a real person and archaeologist—discovered the Biblical city of Sodom, almost certainly because someone had watched the H2 episode of The Universe on the exact same topic shortly before. The “article,” if we can even call it that, rips text directly from Collins’s Tall El-Hammam Excavation Project, where Collins suggests that the archaeological site that gives the website its name could have been the Biblical city.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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