Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Transoceanic Contacts Between the Old and New World



TransPacific Type of Chickens, Related to Polynesian Breeds. Below, the Eggs.







[I found this review to be useful in stating the fundamental problems involved in studies in this school of thought. This gives a capsule summary of the problems commonly invoked on either side of the discussion and the outline does indicate something of the extent of contact that has been invoked and which must be dealt with in any complete review of the subject. _Dale D.]

Transoceanic Contacts Between the Old and New World

Indiana University's Harold K. Schneider has most recently argued that any explanation for the rise of America's high civilizations that fails to involve the movement of cultures across the oceans is weak theoretically. 19 Sorenson 1989:110
Historical transoceanic contact before Columbus

Transoceanic contacts between the Old and New World - has it occurred. Did the Phoenicians, the greatest mariners of their time ever make contact with the New World; did the Egyptians come to the Americas and return to their country with New World plants such as tobacco and cocoa leaves. Have the Chinese, or Japanese, or explorers from India set foot in the New World in pre-historic times, leaving behind cultural items such as art symbols, pottery or figurines. Have the Polynesians been here, the Vikings, the Celts?

Considering the monumental achievement of ocean rowers such as Diana Hoff, Tori Murden, Sylvia Cook, Mick Bird, Peter Bird, and John Fairfax, it may, in the interest of seeking the origins of New World civilizations, be worth considering the evidence, for transoceanic voyages from Eurasia to the New World, before Columbus. (see history of oceanrowing) If individuals can navigate the oceans safely, what is the likelihood of organized groups, (governments, financial institutions, etc.) using large sailing vessels, with ample crew and adequate supplies doing the same thing? Or what are the possibilities of ancient sailing vessels being blown off course and forced to follow currents that flow from the Asian mainland to the Americas?

Was the land bridge between Asia and the New World the only way for people to migrate from that continent to the Americans? In light of the successful efforts of a handful of modern day ocean rowers, who battle enormous odds to conquer the vast oceans of the world, it seems only appropriate to give full consideration to the real possibilities that ancient mariners, either by design or accident, arrived in the New World, bringing with them a full assemblage of cultural and social traditions.

Though it may seem appropriate to consider the possibilities, in reality, it rarely happens. The professional journals of archaeology, and anthropology seldom discuss the issues of transoceanic contact, as they're deemed to be of little value. Transoceanic contacts between the Old and New World have never been a serious issue for the professionals.

Although scholarly discussions may not appear in print on a regular basis in professional journals, nevertheless there has been considerable interest in the prospects of transoceanic contacts. Over the years, numerous articles, covering a wide range of cultural topics, and the speculation of how they were transmitted between the Old and New World have been published.


John Sorenson in Guatemala: 1983, Jack Welch the discoverer of Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon stands behind him.
To facilitate the study of the matter, two professional researchers pooled their efforts, and with the aid of computers, searched library data basis for topics and information related to the subject of transoceanic contacts. The two specialists were John L. Sorenson and Martin H. Raish. The results of their efforts is a two volume reference work they entitled: Pre-Columbian Contact with the Americas across the Oceans: An Annotated Bibliography. The bibliography sketch on Sorenson and Raish reads as follows: Sorenson holds a Ph.D. from UCLA in anthropology, in addition to an M.S. from the California Institute of Technology and an M.A. from Brigham Young University. Raish's Ph.D. is in art history, from the University of New Mexico; he also holds an M.A. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU), and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from BYU.

In the introduction to their work, they poise this question:

The issue to be addressed we phrase this way: "To what degree were the pre-Columbian American peoples and their cultures dependent on or independent of those in the Old World?"

The introduction then continues as follows:

What became apparent early in looking at what had been written was an obstinate ignorance that has characterized discussion of the subject. We were not surprised that many diffusionists had strong biases and only limited mastery of the sources...(while on the other hand) conventional scholars (non-diffusionists) tended to make sweeping assertions about transoceanic relationships and processes while being only modestly informed about relevant facts, methods or theories.
...Groups are known to us from history to have made successful and culturally significant long-distance movements via oceanic voyaging (for example, the Malayo-Polynesian speakers in Madagascar). Serious scholarship, not the assumptions picked up in graduate school, ought to be employed to learn what such cases tell us that is of general concern to anthropology and archaeology, and then to articulate that knowledge into cultural, geographical and historical theory and method. Yet repeatedly scholars of high repute have used poorly-thought-out (essentially folk) explanations to exorcise the unwelcome proposition of pre-Columbian settlement in America from the Old World. Time and again we have been assured by Americanists that any surviving boatload of people who had crossed the ocean "would have been killed or eaten," without citing a single documented case in support of, let alone against, that quaint nineteenth-century notion.

In discussing the content of the two volumes the authors write:


So all the substantive issues are covered here: the capabilities of ancient vessels and their operation, technologically simple vessels, actual or purported historical maps showing lands, across an ocean, comparative cultural patterns (beliefs, rites, technology, architecture, are motifs, folklore, etc.), language comparisons, human biological characteristics including genetics and diseases, shared cultigens, etc.
Each case in the literature is considered: the Vikings, the Polynesians, the Phoenicians, and so on. The coverage, however, involves much more than assertions by diffusionists. Anti-diffusionist literature is also presented...Meanwhile a great deal of the literature that supposes "land" migrations via the Bering Strait is also listed, for no informed argument for or against sailing across the North Pacific could be shaped in ignorance of it.

All the oceans bordering the Americas and all time periods are considered. While crossings before, say, the Bronze Age, seem unlikely, who can say that for certain, considering the settling of Australia and Neolithic Britain? One special case that may strike some as not "transoceanic" has been included for enlightening comparison. This concerns movements between Mesoamerica and Pacific coastal South America. Since such movements are now commonly supposed to have involved voyages of as much as 2,000 miles which may have sailed hundreds of miles out of sight of land, we may be instructed epistemologically, methodologically, and theoretically by opening the literature on this case to general view...

In their closing remarks, the authors note:

It is likely that the technological capacity for transoceanic voyaging has been available at a number of possible departure points in the Old World fairly often in the past. It seems to us both plausible and probable that numerous voyages did cross the oceans and in several places. Furthermore, available evidence from cultural, natural scientific, physical anthropological, linguistic and other studies can be plausibly mustered to support this view. More serious studies on most of these matters are called for than have been done in the recent past, and the relevant disciplines ought to welcome such investigations. Sorenson/Raish 1990: introduction
The following are a random sampling of abstracts and articles that appear alphabetically in the two volume work:


AUTHOR: Brown, John Macmilian
DATE: 1918
TITLE: Languages of the Pacific
IN: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 7

Page 18: He finds a small percentage of Quichua (Mayan) words or roots in Polynesian as well as in Japanese, along with grammatical similarities.

AUTHOR: Carter, George F.
DATE: 1971a
TITLE: Pre-Columbian Chickens in America
IN: Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, edited by Carroll L. Riley, et al., pages 178-218, University of Texas Press: Austin

Chickens were too widely dispersed too soon after 1492 to have been introduced to South America by the Spaniards. When Spanish explorers reached the Andes, the fowl was already there, known by a name similar to an Asian word for chicken. Other name similarities are adduced. Chickens were also in the Amazon Basin before Europeans...His conclusion is that the evidence is stronger for Asian pre-Columbian introduction than for (merely) Spanish and Portuguese introduction.

AUTHOR: Carter, George F.
DATE: 1976b
TITLE: Chinese Contacts with America: Fu-Sang Again
IN: Anthropological Journal of Canada 14 (1) :10-2


"Here I reopen the question of pre-Columbian contacts of the Chinese with America." Recaps the Fu-sang tradition. Gives in a table, names for water craft which may show relationships between Asia and America. Lists over 30 parallels between China and America cited by Needham 1971. Describes two Asiatic bronze figures from Peru, as told by Patron 1908. Cites a claim that one 19th century Peruvian village could understand Chinese.

Shows also characters on a stela in Peru which compare closely to Chinese and Annamese characters that are part of a readable magical spell. Carter sent photographs on one of the Peruvian statues to Dr. Shen-shun Ling in Taipei who replied that the characters shown wee unquestionably Chinese of c. AD 500...Yupa Indians of Venezuela have a high proportion of a blood transferrin only found in the Chinese (Arends and Gallango 1964). The cultural isolationist view held by many professional Americanists should be broken down and would be if they had broader knowledge. "

AUTHOR: Chadwick, Robert E. Lee Jr.
DATE: (c. 1975)
TITLE: Toward a Theory of Trans-Atlantic Diffusion
UNPUBLISHED: typescript, 82 pages (in Harold B. Lee Library, BYU)

Presents evidence showing that probably there were several transatlantic incursions to the New World prior to European contact in the 15th century. Two fundamental archaeological traits for these are the shoe-shaped pot or patojo and the stirrup-spouted vessel. Evidence from physical anthropology includes intrusive brachycephalic persons and the practices of trephination and cranial deformation...Supporting ethnohistorical evidence is taken from Mexican and Peruvian chronicles of the 16th century. This complex he takes to represent an intrusive "prospector culture," indicated by the features mentioned plus shaft tombs and other rare burial types, in addition to the first appearance of metallurgy in an area with a Quetzalcoatl deity.

He finds many parallels between his prospector group in the New World...and the Bell-Beaker copper-prospecting people in Europe and North Africa. Proposes at least two Atlantic crossing, c. 2,000 BC and 500 BC not ruling out Pacific crossing(s) as well.

AUTHOR: Ekholm, Gordon F.
DATE: 1964a
TITLE: The Possible Chinese Origin of Teotihuacan Cylindrical Tripod Pottery and Certain Related Traits
IMPRINT: Proceedings of the 35th International Congress of Americanisms (Mexico, 1962), pages 39-45

In a sober and cautiously worded essay, the author suggests that a limited amount of cultural transfer occurred during the Han dynasty to coeval Early Classic Teotihuacan and could have played a role in the shaping of New World cultures. Similarities are evident in the occurrence of flat-bottomed, cylindrical tripod vessels with square molded legs, conical covers by birds, and horizontally arranged decoration. Other traits of possible outside origin include carved slate and pyrite mirrors, fresco decoration, wheeled figurines, and the use of molds.

AUTHOR: Heine-Geldern, Robert von
DATE: 1964a
TITLE: Traces of Indian and southeast Asiatic Hindu-Buddhist Influences in Mesoamerica
IN: Proceedings of the 35th Int'l Congress of Americanists (Mexico, 1962), 1:47-54

Indian sailors could learn about America from the Chinese in Southeast Asia, whose Trans-Pacific voyages continued into Han times, at which time the Hindus colonized Southeast Asia. Large four-masted ships possessed by the Indians at the time made crossing the Pacific perfectly feasible, citing Palliot 1920. Amaravati, India, was particularly important in the colonization of Southeast Asia, thus making sensible the relation of lotus friezes of second century Amaravati with water-lily friezes of Chichen Itza...

Wheeled animal figurines show an even more likely link; they have been popular in India from the third millennium BC to the present. "The independent invention of wheeled miniature objects in a country where the wheel was unknown is, of course, extremely improbable."

In summary, there were more or less constant relations from Southeast Asia to America from about the second to the ninth or tenth century. There is no indication of large-scale immigration, conquest, or agricultural settlements.

AUTHOR: Ibarra Grasso, Dick Edgar
DATE: 1982
TITLE: America en la prehistoria mundial: difusion greco-fenicia
(America in World Prehistory: Greco-Phoenician Diffusion)
IMPRINT: Tipografica Editora Argentina: Buenos Aires

His historical summary (page 401) recognizes at least five transoceanic movements:

(1) A little before 3,000 BC relations with Indonesia are manifest on the coast of Ecuador and perhaps western Mexico, including cultural traits originating in Bronze Age Sumeria, India and Indochina; Meggers and company are wrong in supposing a Japan source for this influence, rather it came from Indonesia via the counter-euqatorial current while simultaneously reaching Jomon Japan.

(2) Since at least 1800 BC, and intensifying around 1500 on the coasts of Ecuador and northern Peru, traits from Mesopotamia, Elam and India appear, and when studied more, western Mexico will likely show similar features. From 1000-700 B.C. (Chavin) a new wave of influence from the same source(s) can be seen.

(3) Around 500 B.C. intense new influences, including migrations, reach Mesoamerica, yielding the Late Preclassic. while Mesoamerica did not then receive metallurgy, many copies of metal objects in other materials exist, but in Ecuador and Peru full metallurgy was received, possibly from Phoenicians and Greeks. Toward the end of this period the first Hindu and Chinese influences arrive, seen among the Olmecs and then the Mayas.

(4) One or two centuries before our era, a Hellenistic scientific mission must have moved along the coasts of both Mesoamerica and the Andean area introducing advanced astronomical and calendrical concepts, a geocentric view of the universe, 20-unit counting system, etc.

(5) Around AD 500 a reverse flow of American culture of Mayan origin, reached Indochina, carrying especially the false arch, tri-foliate-form portals, knowledge of zero, and other cultural traits which then diffused on to India and to Europe.


There are close to 6,000 entries in the two volumes and the synopsis of each article is fascinating to read. It shows that there has been much discussion and considerable research into the origin of civilization in the Americas before Columbus, and much of it centers on transoceanic contacts versus supposed travel over the Bering Strait land bridge.


[By my estimation, the latest set of listed voyages seriously undersetimates the connections between Mexico and India in the Tlatilco period, which is indicated but not made to start soon enough and not allowed a large enough standard-Hindu diffusion. At the time in question the migrants were already worshipping Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma and the mythology continued foreward from that: Brahma eventually became HunabKu and so on. Furthermore there was a two-way traffic in various domesticated plants including beans, cotton, tomatoes, chile peppers, coconuts and even bringing prickly pear cactus back to India as fodder for use in the drier regions. Furthermore some very unusual things were transported at the same time, such as the use of cochneal, made from the crushed bodies of small insects. It is good that the authors recognise two-way transpacific contact but in fact it must have been deliberate and ongoing for most of the period of 500 BC to AD 500, and building on even older contacts. It is also useful to note that the "Latest Bering Sea Crossings" must necessarily be postglacial and some authorities even allow that contact between East Asia and North America must have been ongoing in the 1st and 2nd millenia BC. Naturally I shall have to produce the documentation for these things in future postings as time allows. -- Best Wishes, Dale D.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog does NOT allow anonymous comments. All comments are moderated to filter out abusive and vulgar language and any posts indulging in abusive and insulting language shall be deleted without any further discussion.