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Rodents of Ragnar

todayNovember 20, 2022 7

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A first-millennium family of mice.

Mysterious, ancient monoliths on a windswept, chilly island.

Their separate discoveries overturned centuries of established history.

 

Megaliths

For hundreds of years, historians thought the Azores were discovered by the Portuguese in the 1400s.  A remote and difficult to reach archipelago of 9 islands in the North Atlantic, they appeared to be completely uninhabited.

Over the last decade, Dr. Felix Rodrigues has documented megalithic and other structures on the islands dating back over 4200 years.  A yet-unknown civilization built them, but they are remarkably similar to ancient sites in the UK and Europe:

Were the Azores home to an ancient civilisation? – BBC REEL

 

Sail Away

A house mouse led a different team of researchers to discover a “sandwich” civilization between ancient and Portuguese.

“For 20 years scientists have been studying the mitochondrial DNA of house mice to learn more about human visitation and settlement in far-flung places; because house mice live alongside humans, the presence of one almost guarantees the presence of the other,” wrote Krisy Gashler for Cornell University:

https://cals.cornell.edu/news/2021/11/viking-mice-norse-discovered-azores-700-years-portuguese

DNA from modern Azores mice pointed to Norway.  But how did they get there?

At the bottom of an Azores lake, archaeologists found sedimentary layers with signs of human settlement (i.e. charcoal, animal feces, pollen).   

Vikings were in the Azores 700 years before the Portuguese. 

They didn’t seem to have a permanent settlement, but they did leave evidence – and mice – behind.

Hidden History

Discoveries of ancient sites, structures, and inhabitants will continue; any researcher worth their salt knows that thousands of generations of humans (and mice) left clues we just haven’t found or decoded yet.

We can’t blame those early Portuguese explorers and subsequent visitors for what they missed.  They were clueless about DNA and stratigraphy, as well as other monoliths around the world. 

Archaeologists, historians, and others will continue to build upon, overturn, and reinterpret things we thought we knew.  It’s all about paying attention to the small things. 

 

Links:

Viking Mouse:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/256204286/viking-taxidermy-mouse

 

A Sea Shanty:

 

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Written by: maia

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