L’Anse Aux Meadows, Canada

L’Anse Aux Meadows, Canada

At the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland are the archeological remains of the oldest known European settlement in the New World. Along with evidence of native habitation dating back about 6,000 years, the L’Anse aux Meadows site harbors the foundations of eight sod-covered buildings and numerous artifacts that were part of a small Norse settlement in the eleventh century.

This approximately natural-color image of the site was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on September 14, 2007. The modern name, L’Anse aux Meadows, appears to be an English corruption of a name originally given to the location by French sailors, L’Anse-aux-Méduses, or “Jellyfish Cove.” Even so, the name is appropriate given the landscape, which is a mixture of coastal bogs and barrens (plains with low-growing vegetation and only stunted trees.) Lakes and ponds speckle the ground. The lighter blue color of the water offshore of the Norse settlement indicates it is shallow.

L’Anse Aux Meadows is a United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation World Heritage Site, and the Canadian Park Service has recreated the Norse buildings, including houses, a forge, and a church. The modern world is more visible in this scene, however. The most obvious signs of modern civilization are the roads (light-colored lines) that wind around the edges of the peninsula.

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey

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