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Vinland: Viking Map or Million-Dollar Hoax? (2004)

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Credited cast:
Eloy Fernández Clemente ...
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Roy Marsden ...
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Brody Neuenschwander ...
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15 May 2004 (UK)  »

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The narrator says that we are all taught that Columbus ended up on the shores of "North America" but that has not been taught for some time now as we know that Columbus landed in Central and South America but never actually landed anywhere in North America. See more »

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Unsatisfactory ending
26 November 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The first 25 minutes of this documentary are very interesting, and well presented.

However, the final 20 minutes really let this title down. It's not that the programme makers have sided with the 'hoax' evidence. This is pretty much irrelevant given that the Vikings really did reach, and settle, the North American sub-continent back in 1000 or so.

No, the problem is the way the final narrative is weaved together: it's wholly unsatisfactory. Although one of the key characters is shown to be a crook, his relationship with the 'forger' isn't divulged properly, and simply doesn't add up. Furthermore, the notion that Vikings might have orally provided other writers with geographical knowledge was not followed-up. As we all know, these cultures lived side by side with each other, and just because one isn't known for its maps, doesn't mean that an outsider can't create one. On top of this, there is no mention of the Skálholt Map, which although drawn in the 16th century, did use Norse sources of information and does fairly accurately locate the settlement of the Vikings in North America.

The real nail in the coffin, however, is the final quote from one of the researchers, who claims that the whole hoax could have been avoided if more rigorous 'peer review' (for want of a better term) had been conducted more than 50 years ago. Yet almost all of the documentary was devoted to showing how *new* technological methods, unavailable in the 1950s, were used to prove the item's legitimacy (or lack thereof). Without such methods, proving something real or fake would have been impossible - as demonstrated by the programme.

As such, this documentary comes across as completely unbalanced in this respect, even if it is likely that their main conclusion is correct.


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