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Old August 30th, 2012, 12:35 PM   #1
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Were there contact with the New World before Columbus?


I've been reading a Wikipedia article on the theory called the "Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact hypotheses" with very interesting artifacts such as the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head and the supposed african features of various Olmec colossal heads, what are your thoughts about the theory?
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Old August 30th, 2012, 12:37 PM   #2

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Before Columbus??? Have you never heard of Lief Ericson?

Anyway, it is almost certain that Polynesians arrived in America (or vice versa?) based on pretty solid evidence - Polynesian breeds of chicken found in S. America, linguistic evidence, and something to do with sweet potatoes.

The Chinese, Roman, and other theories are far sketchier.

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Old August 30th, 2012, 01:01 PM   #3

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The Norse and the Polynesians made it to the New World before Columbus, and of course so did the prehistoric Asian hunter-gatherers following mammoth herds across the Bering Land Bridge, but nobody else. The Roman Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head is a hoax, it is a Roman artifact placed by a prankster in a Mexican archaeological site that dates from over a thousand years later than the period the Roman artifact supposedly originated in. And the supposed African features on the Olmec are just that, supposed. Because apparently you can't depict anyone with a broad nose without them being African. The theory is based on racialist ideas that people of a certain "race" can only look one way, and that people also can't have an imagination and carve things a certain way. Furthermore, there's just no logic to support the idea. There was no African society at the time with any sea-faring capacities or significant power at all, nor did the Phoenicians even have the ability to go so far. Carthage was founded a hundred years after the heads were buried. If they barely made it to the western half of North Africa by this time, what makes people think they sailed in a glorious fleet across the ocean (before anyone even had decent ocean-going ships) and impressed the natives so much that they made colossal statues that took a great effort to carve and move many miles representing their slaves? There's just no logic to these theories besides "I think it sounds cool so I desperately want it to be true".
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Old November 11th, 2012, 04:10 PM   #4

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In my view, there were probably a few different European contacts with North America before Columbus. Basque, etc, fishermen new about the Grand Banks near Newfoundland, and probably shared tales of their exploits. They and others already knew about the great Atlantic gyre, where the large circulation took you first SW, then curved NW, and eventually back to Europe. Among others, there is a possible Welsh contact. I haven't recently seen anything about that, but I think it was in Alabama that some kind of rock carving and/or structure was found.

Recently I found a connection in my hypothetical maternal family tree, i.e. direct maternal line, to Wales in Medieval times. When the English conquered Wales for the last time, around 1282 or so, the lesser nobles who weren't rounded up and imprisoned, went into deep hiding and disappeared. They would have been educated enough, and probably had a stash of wealth, to assemble an expedition. I think they, at least some of them, first went to Brittany. There they could have contacted fishermen who had first-hand knowledge of the Atlantic. I have an uncommon HVR1 U5 match from Belle Isle, Brittany. That is isolated from other such matches. One source could be Danish Vikings. But a Welsh source should not be ruled out, until more research is done.

I'm just speculating, of course.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 05:12 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnoozi View Post
The Chinese, Roman, and other theories are far sketchier.
Yes but no

There is some archaelogical evidence of Chinese goods in some Olmec sites, although evidence is not conclusive.

Alas, maybe the fact that 20 words in Olmec (Mixe-Zoquean language) inherited to Proto-Mayan (sorry, I acknowledge this term is loose for the actual myriad of Mayan dialects) mean and sound the same as in Chinese?

What a startling coincidence it may be for some folks haha.

Wether or not the Chinese had the technology of seafaring to America may be an issue, I cannot rule out the possibility, since America had some polinesian migration through the seas.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 05:35 PM   #6

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The Olmecs were contemporaries with the Shang and Zhou dynasties, as well as the Warring States period, so I'm kind of dubious as to the idea that they sailed all the way across the Pacific back then, especially if they left no record at all and brought nothing back. And while I'm a believer in the theory that the Olmec language probably was Proto-Mixe-Zoque, there's still not a ton of evidence and their writings are undeciphered as of yet. And I'm not aware of there being enough words to indicate more than a coincidental resemblance. After all, some Mayan words sound rather similar to English without being related, like their word for one ("hun"), though there are probably also way more English words borrowed from Mayan than there are Mayan words that sound like Chinese (with the same meanings).

In regards to Speculatin' (great name btw), the Basque seem to have made it there before Columbus, true, but the Welsh theory about Prince Madoc and all that was more of a 19th Century invention based upon very little but folktales. The Mandan tribe is the most associated with these legends, mostly because they lived in buildings more complicated than the tipis most plains people used (these people however were unaware of the Mississippian societies that resembled the Mandans more than the Welsh that predated European contact) and because they had boats made from bull skins that were round like Welsh coracles. As it is though, the Mandans speak a Siouan language, and unless the Welsh had been secretly performing Sun-Dances for quite a while the two aren't exactly all that similar.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 06:04 PM   #7

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the Basques?
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Old November 11th, 2012, 06:16 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnoozi View Post
the Basques?
It's not much in the way of real contact with natives and all, but there were supposedly Basque fishermen off the shores of Newfoundland in the 1400's or so.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 07:17 PM   #9

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I really didn't know about specific characters in that Welsh legend. I only remembered something about rocks, etc. But now that it has come out, the maternal tree of mine that I put together goes back to that Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd 1087-1169. Actually, he was the grandfather of Llewelyn ap Iowerth 1173-1240, who married Joan Plantagenet 1188-1237. I apparently inherited my U5b2b2 from her; unless of course I messed up in my research along the way (lots of weak links between me and her). I notice that Llewelyn's mother was Margred Verch Madog 11149-1198.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 08:19 PM   #10

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I had been given to understand that if there had been significant pre-Columbian contact between the Old and New Worlds, the American natives would have been exposed to bubonic plague, chicken pox, cholera, common cold, diphtheria, influenza, leprosy, malaria, measles, scarlet fever, smallpox, typhoid, typhus, whooping cough, yellow fever, and yaws prior to Columbus' arrival, and so, the descendants of the survivors thereby would have had some resistance to these diseases by 1492.
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