For a few centuries beginning around 950, temperatures in the North Atlantic were warm enough that Norse farmers settled in Greenland. ”The colonists developed a little Europe of their own,” Archaeology Magazine wrote in 2000.
The settlements disappeared sometime in the 15th century. Archaeologists theorize that the communities tried to adapt to the onset of colder temperatures in what’s known as the “Little Ice Age.” They “failed anyway,” a University of Maryland archaeologist told Science in 2016.
They left behind a rich archaeological record, which for centuries has been preserved in permafrost. Warming in recent decades has begun to literally rot away organic materials. “What stands to be lost is a unique record of remarkably preserved material: hair textiles, human and animal bones, woods, hides, leathers,” Scientifc American noted in a 2019 report.