From Edge of the World to Leader of the World: Trollheart's History of America - Music Banter Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-02-2022, 09:41 AM   #21 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default

I: Sailing the Green Sea of Darkness to the World’s End



Living as they did in its heart, while North Africans respected and feared the mighty, pitiless expanse of the Sahara Desert, they were more in awe of the great sea which lay beyond the rivers they knew, and where, it was said, the gods plucked up the vessels of those who wandered too far - whether due to bravery or accident - and flung them over the edge of the world into a dark hole from which no man returned. But times were changing, and scholars from as far as Morocco had begun to challenge such ideas, including the inherent one of the world being flat. No, said these men: the world is like a gourd, and could you but travel far enough, rather than fall off its edge, you would return to the point from which you started.

Given that more enlightened areas of the world such as Europe, and especially Greece, centre of learning and science for much of the ancient world, had long disproved or at least abandoned the theory of a flat earth, this might seem a little backward. But it is important to remember that we’re talking here about the thirteenth century, when Africa as a nation had little if any trade with the other side of the world, and not much to counter this argument. It should also be borne in mind that a country as relatively advanced as China retained the belief that the world was flat right up to the seventeenth century.

Abubakari II

There are those who say he did not exist, and they may be right, but our information comes from Arab accounts and writings, and whether or not they refer to him, or someone else for whom he is the model, the name we’re given in Abubakari II, King of Mali. Everything after this will be written with respect to those who have given us the accounts, and therefore taken, in so far as possible, to be true. Abubakari then, came to the throne of Mali young, and with a young man’s boredom for rituals and pilgrimages, and worn out by endless wars, he envisaged instead enshrining his reign with an undertaking nobody before him had considered, or dared. He would cross the Green Sea of Darkness, and see what lay beyond.

Though technically a Muslim, Abubakari rejected many of the more stringent disciplines of Islam. He is said to have believed the teachings of the imams as “crickets singing at sundown in the darkened savannahs”, and he felt that Muslims in general were “terrified of real life, terrified of the primitive power of sex, terrified of the senses.” He laughed sharply when they recoiled from the sight of his daughters swimming naked while they “entombed their women up to the eyes in cloth.” Somewhat like perhaps you might think King George messing with steam engines or Nero competing in the chariot races, Abubakari left his affairs of state to his underlings and surrounded himself with the best and brightest, the forward-thinking men whose minds rejected, like his, the warnings and the superstitions of the elders. He was trying to usher in a new golden age of knowledge and enlightenment, and such ideas as his ancestors - and some in his present time, even some at his court - espoused got in the way of that attempt. You can’t go forward while looking back, he may have thought, and so he set his sights on the future.

To this end, he sent forth a summons from his court for all men who had experience and skill in shipbuilding, navigation, exploration and all associated skills to come to him, and assist him in launching his great adventure. From the Gambia they answered his call, from Senegal and the Niger they came, even from far-off Lake Chad. From these men he learned and was taught many things, such as that having a large boat might not necessarily be the best way to go, that even though the great ocean could be tumultuous and savage with its currents and storms, often it was more dangerous when calm, when the winds dropped and not a breath stirred the sails, and a ship could lie becalmed for days, even weeks, or longer. He was told of tiny islands which certain men had visited, but found to be barren and lifeless. However discouraging those accounts might be though, others did theorise that beyond the great expanse of water there could, in all possibility, lie new, undiscovered lands.

Though many suggestions were made as to what sort of boat he should build - some said it must have a sail, but others that to rely on a sail alone was asking for trouble, referencing the already-noted deadly calms, and that oars should also be included, Abubakari decided in the end to play it safe and have made not one type of ship, but to take note of all men’s advice, and ensure he had the best possible chance of survival in the fleet at the head of which he would put to sea. Minor skirmishes on his border were called off as he recalled his soldiers to aid in the building, caravan guides and navigators, who knew how to plot courses, were put into service, also holy men, magicians, philosophers and thinkers. An extensive programme of deforestation was embarked upon as trees were cut down to provide the wood for the fleet, and with supply boats intended to follow the main ships in order to ensure they did not run out of provisions should some disaster strike, the whole thing would resemble a seaborne version of the great Arab caravans that traversed the unforgiving desert.

A fine adventure indeed, but one must wonder what the people thought? No doubt the shipbuilding cost immense amounts of money, and no doubt also this was paid for by them, in the form of taxes levied on them. Did they believe - secretly, of course, for who would openly criticise the ruler? - that the prince was being too single-minded, devoting all his energies to what could be called a pet project, even a white elephant, while he neglected his kingdom? Were there the kinds of sullen mutterings that accompanied Man’s efforts to reach the Moon, over seven hundred years later, while people back on Earth starved and had nowhere to live? We don’t know: none of this is recorded in the writings, as I suppose it might have been forbidden, or considered indelicate or even dangerous, certainly controversial, to voice such doubts about the soundness of the prince’s decision. At any rate, once the fleet was assembled, Abubakari instructed its captains “Do not return until you have reached the ends of the ocean, or until you have exhausted your supplies of food.”

Perhaps the last part of that instruction might be seen as superfluous; if they ran out of food, was it likely they could make it home? You would have to assume that was an afterthought, and what Abubakari II really meant was “find the new world or don’t bother coming back.” When some time later (it’s not made clear when, but I would imagine weeks, maybe months) one of the captains appeared at court to advise that he had watched his fellow captains sail over the horizon and get caught up in a strong current, but fearing it he had turned back, Abubakari feared the worst. All was lost. He had gambled on this great expedition and it had turned to dust in his hands. Now he would not be the toast of the Arab world, but its joke. People would point (not in reality, but in their minds, and in private) at him and call him reckless, a dreamer, a failure. The sea voyage would be called “Abubakari’s Folly”, and worse, nobody would even think of exploring the great dread dark ocean again. Mali would remain in ignorance and isolation when it could have been at the vanguard of a new world of discoveries.

He would not let such a thing be, he decided, and people privately thought their prince had gone mad when he announced his decision to build a new fleet, far larger than the first, and, more, to captain it himself. He personally would command the expedition which would go in search of the first one, and see what had happened.

The year was 1311, almost a hundred and fifty years before Columbus was even born.

It can be more or less accepted that as he embarked on this voyage Abubakari essentially abdicated, as he transferred all power to his brother as regent, telling Kankan Musa that if he did not return he was to assume the monarchy in his stead. He described the period his brother should wait before taking power as “a reasonable amount of time”, but I’m not sure what any court in the land would see that as covering: months? Years? The moment the prince’s ships had vanished over the horizon? At any rate, his brother got to take power as Abubakari never returned to his kingdom, sailing instead into history.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2022, 09:52 AM   #22 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default


It’s an interesting point that Patrick Huyghe, quoted at the beginning of this chapter making a quip that will rankle with many respected historians (not the least because it’s true) makes when he says that of all the landmasses in the world, the continent of America - north and south - was the very last inhabitable area to be colonised. This is of course mostly due to its being originally cut off by huge ice sheets and glaciers stretching across what would become the border between it and Canada. Only when the thaw began, about an estimated 12,000 years ago, were primitive humans able to move down south and into the continent of America. Still, given how so many of its proud denizens go on about America being the greatest country in the world (it’s not a country, guys: it’s a continent - is Europe the greatest country in the world? Asia? Africa? Christ. Anyway) it’s rather sobering to find that, technically speaking, it was the last choice for humans to live in, way back then.

But come - eventually - they did, driven by changes in weather and hunting patterns, and as we’ve already noted earlier, the first recorded people to settle in what would become America were called the Clovis, after the area in Mexico where the first fossilised remains were discovered. It has in fact been theorised that there was another race there before them, a race who have been somewhat obviously perhaps named the Pre-Clovis, but no evidence of their existence has been uncovered, and as it stands they’re more a sort of working theory, like many ancient civilisations who have vanished without a trace, but who are expected to have existed, even if their presence cannot be proven.

As the descendants of the Clovis, who vanished suddenly and were replaced by what we came to know as Native Americans, are believed to have come across the land bridge of Beringia from Asia, it’s actually not too surprising that a certain Italian mariner, arriving in America just before the turn of the sixteenth century, mistook it for Asia. The characteristics and features of many of the people would have added fuel to his hypothesis, and indeed Columbus is believed to have been right in identifying the people, if not the continent, as Asian. It’s certainly more or less accepted now that the ancestors of the first Americans came over, either by foot or in small boats, from places like Russia and China, accounting for some of the more mongoloid and oriential features of even today’s Native Americans.



Pottery found in Ecuador, in a place called Valdivia is dated to around 4,000 to 3,000 BC, and has been identified by experts as being so similar to that made in the Japanese island of Kyushu that the almost inescapable conclusion is that somehow, Japanese explorers were in America at that time. The pottery, it is said, could not simply have developed out of influences over time, as it is too complete, too perfect, and doesn’t show signs of having slowly developed, leaving archaeologists with only the one workable hypothesis. There is support for the possible shipwrecking/stranding of Japanese fishermen in South America, so the voyage, as it were, may not have been one of exploration, or intentional, and therefore the sailors may have “discovered” America - at least, South America - by accident.



Like many of the theories, although most are at least backed up by some sort of evidence, the idea that Chinese explorers were in America long before the Spanish cannot be corroborated, and much of what we know comes from what may very well be stories and myths. However we do know that the Chinese were exploring long before Europeans were. The problem, as I say, is proof, of which there is none. No archaeological finds, no pottery, no skeletons, no monuments. What we do have are accounts that speak of Ta-Chang (no, not Ca-Ching!) and Shu-Hai, who were said to be the greatest explorers you’ve never heard of, and served someone called the Great Yu. No, no, I’m serious, that’s what he was called. If he existed. Which we don’t know. But he probably did. Maybe.

He in turn served an emperor who again may have been a figment of some literary scholar’s mind, one of five who may not have existed, called Yao. Yeah I know. Anyway, around 2250 BC (this is BC, people, when Europeans were probably still fighting over animal bones or something, not even intelligent enough yet to be getting chased around by Romans) he thought it would be a spiffing idea to see what the world was like, but had no particular wish to leave the comforts of home. So he detailed, you guessed it, Ta-Chang and Shu-Hai to do it for him. Off they went, travelling north and south, and just to be absolutely sure they covered everything, west and east too.

Actually, no. They went before 2250, probably more at the beginning of the twenty-fourth century, as his master had already passed on before Great Yu was asked by his successor, the hilariously-named Shun (can you imagine? “Bow down, people! Shun the Emperor!” Um, what did he say?) to compile a report on how his boys had done. Great Yu said sure, he’d do it after tea, just leave it with him. He must have put it off for a long time though, as Shun had bought the farm before he got around to it, leaving the throne free, a chance which Yu did not pass up, showing he was not called Great for nothing. With more time on his hands now, flunkies galore to carry out the mundane day-to-day tasks that had occupied him and kept him from fulfilling the edict of both his predecessors, Yu got right down to it and by 2208 had written it all down. It became known as Shan Hai Ching, or The Classic of the Mountains and Rivers.

There’s no way to know when it was actually written, as the page with the copyright date on it is all smudged, and the only copy we have today is as recent as the sixth century, and not BC either. We’re talking after the birth of himself here, not before. It is however regarded widely as the first proper text of the geography of the world, though as I mentioned in my journal on world exploration, The Men Who Drew the Map of the World, like Odysseus’s journeys, the text is filled with detail that makes it unreliable and hard to take as factual. Fantastic beasts (and where to find them), strange people and odd places which cannot be correlated even today with any known land sit side by side with sharp, precise accounts of rivers, mountains and measurements, descriptions of flora and fauna, and directions of rivers and seas.

The text is divided into thirty-two books, though only half that number survive today, and it is in Book IV, entitled “Book of the Eastern Mountains” where some scholars believe the two intrepid Chinese navigators are referring to America. Almost all of this study is made thanks to a lady from Chicago called Henriette Mertz, who was quite an explorer herself, and served in World War II as well as on the Manhattan Project to build America’s atom bomb. She identified a range referred to as Aspen Mountain as Long’s Peak in northern Colorado. With this as a marker, she reckoned she was able to follow the journey of Ta-Chang and Shu-Hai down the coast of southwestern America along the Rio Grande down into Texas. Once she had this established, Mertz could trace the path of the two Asian explorers from Canada and Alaska down to Mexico.


(You know, this may not be her, but it's the only picture I can find, and it is linked with the books on American discovery written by Mertz. I have to assume it is her, as she died in 1985. What her cat thought about the ancient exploration of America is not recorded).

Placing the two boys sailing the coast of America, some of their descriptions of animals, which would have seemed outlandish and fictional to readers in China, who knew of no such things, actually now make some sort of sense, Mertz decided. From Huyghe’s book the following: “The pelicans that looked like ducks with men’s legs and derived their name from their cry were whooping cranes. The beast that looked like a rabbit with a crow’s bill, an owl’s eyes, the tail of a snake, and that pretended to sleep when seen was surely a possum. The striped cattle whose cry resembled a person stretching and yawning were caribou. The man-eating, white-headed birds the size of domestic fowl with tiger claws and rat’s legs sound like an exaggerated reference to bald eagles. And the birds that flew backward, as absurd as that might have sounded to Chinese skeptics who later mocked the account by drawing ducks looking over their shoulders and flying backward, were undoubtedly hummingbirds, a bird indigenous to America.”

So now it becomes obvious how people seeing strange animals they had never encountered before might make what might seem wildly fanciful observations of them which, in reality, tally up quite well with what we on this side of the Atlantic would call ordinary animals. The eye of the beholder, huh? This bit, however, seems a little less likely: “Book IX also states outright that the Great Yu had sent Shu-Hai to “walk from the farthest limit of the East to the farthest limit of the West.” Having done so, the dauntless surveyor came up with the measure of the world: “five hundred thousand and ten times ten thousand paces and nine thousand eight hundred paces.” Mertz did not double-check this statement.”

I bet she didn’t. There is however an interesting so-called observation (more likely a myth) about an archer who travels to the sun’s birthplace, but finds ten suns instead of one, and shoots down nine. I’ll have to check, but this sounds familiar and I’m sure there’s a Chinese myth somewhere in one of my other journals about someone shooting down six out of seven moons or something, so maybe Ta-Chang and Shu-Hai were adapting one of their own legends to what Mertz believe has something to do with the Grand Canyon. I mean, the Chinese always were and to a great extent still are big on symbolism and metaphor, and nobody believes for a second these guys met an actual archer, so there’s probably a grain of truth hidden in there somewhere, though likely one we will never unearth. It may even be a creation myth told by one of the Native American tribes to the two Chinese (or one of them, assuming they split up, which they surely must have done).

The more you look - or the more she looked, anyway, or at least others with more time on their hands and better reason to than I, peeping over their shoulders and copying down their conclusions like some schoolkid cheating at an exam - the more really odd descriptions start to make some sort of sense. As Huyghe says, “Floating Ghosts Country” could be a northern European country where the aurora borealis appears. The “Sunken Eyes People” may be a reference to Europeans. The “Land of Arms” might be a country where the sleeves of people’s clothes ballooned out, “Three Head Land” a place that had three heads of state.”

I particularly like the “Floating Ghosts Country” one: you can really see how this could impress itself upon the minds of men who were, certainly, men of science and yet came from an age and indeed a culture wherein the spirits of ancestors were firmly believed to roam the earth, and they might even have considered that these ghosts were watching over their enterprise.

The Olmec people are recognised as one of the mother cultures of Central America, a culture that gave rise to many others, including the famous Maya. It’s believed now that explorers from the Shang Dynasty, which flourished around the period between the eighteenth and twelfth century BC, had an undeniable effect on the Olmec. The parallels are numerous, from the similarities between feline cults (tiger for the Shang, jaguar for the Olmec), the dragon gods both worshipped and their use of jade, both for decoration and in burial ceremonies.

Despite the amusing story of the Chinese emperor who attempted to cross a river in a ferryboat held together with glue, which of course evaporated and caused the boat to fall apart (lending new meaning to a popular Irish phrase, I will in me glue!) the Chinese are credited with pretty much the discovery of everything, from gunpowder to fireworks and writing to tea, and in that same vein they are accepted to have been one of the first sea-faring nations. That then would tie in with crossing the Pacific Ocean over three thousand years before Columbus made his way across the Atlantic.

Another point made to legitimise the theories of Chinese contact with the Olmec is the appearance of bark paper. This is, apparently, made from - anyone? And is at the heart of the bark-cloth and paper-making industry that flourished among the Maya and other civilisations in South America. I surely don’t need to say bark paper originated in China, do I? I do? Bark paper originated in China. There. Sadly, there are few examples of this sort of process left in America, as once the god-fearing Catholic Spanish missionaries stuck their collective oar in and pronounced these bark-paper books “evil” (duh) they set about collecting and burning them (double duh), consigning any evidence of previous civilisation - whether intentionally or just as a by-product of their arrogance - to the flames.

You can’t burn stone though (well you can but it won’t destroy it and these guys weren’t exactly going to go to that much trouble!) so we’re left with runic symbols that represent cosmic energy on pyramids, mounds, altars, murals and carvings, as well as the winged serpent, the cosmic eye and the good old yin-yang that link the two cultures. Some time around the sixth or fifth century BC it’s postulated that Chinese sailors arrived and created a colony in, of all places, El Salvador, where Columbus would fall on his knees almost a thousand years later naming the land San Salvador. How’s that for history taking the mickey huh? From this small colony rose the great and ancient Maya civilisation, which stretched into the jungles of Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala and which, with the help of their new Asian allies, battled and defeated the powerful Olmec. Possibly.

Meanwhile, a new form of art based on scrolls, popular in Asia, began to spread throughout South America, one of the greatest examples being found in Izapa, Mexico, carved on rocks and featuring a host of symbols known to relate to Asian culture and mythology, such as tigers, fishes, turtles, serpents, rain clouds and plumed birds, as well as that old mainstay, yin-yang.

Strangely enough, the primary motivation of Chinese explorers for setting out across the sea appears to have been a search for immortality, and this can be taken literally. When I read that I thought it meant to ensure that their names went down in history, but no: they actually were searching for eternal life. They believed a form of hallucinogenic mushroom (cosmic, man!) grew on three mountainous islands they called Phêng-Lai, Fang Chang, and Ying-Chou, and which would grant humans immortality or deep wisdom. They envisioned an enlightened, immortal civilisation living there, consuming the ling-chin, as the fungus were called, which enabled them to stave off death. Needless to say, they’re still looking.

Despite our long and mostly successful tradition of barging in everywhere we’re not wanted, sticking our noses in where they’re not needed and loudly proclaiming that our god is the only one, and all others are hereby evicted (an attitude which has surely landed more than one pious missionary in the boiling pot of water among the potatoes and carrots), this kind of behaviour is not unique to white men. While we certainly can claim to have “civilised”, or at least converted more of the world than any other race, the Chinese weren’t above a spot of preaching and attempts at conversion themselves. In fact a Buddhist monk called Hiu-Shen headed over to what was believed to be America (called Fu-Sang) around 438 and spent forty years wandering the country, preaching to anyone who would listen, then sodded off back home. Once there, like any good traveller and explorer, he began to write down an account of his time spent in Fu-Sang.

Named for the Fu-Sang tree, with its red, pear-shaped fruit and its leaves like bamboo shoots, the country was, according to Hiu-Shen, populated by men who did not make war and who lived in “houses without walls” - possibly a reference to Indian wigwams and tepees - and who made paper and cloth from the bark of the Fu-Sang tree. They had domesticated horses, which pulled their carts, and though these people were clearly intelligent they placed no value on gold or silver. He also wrote of the “Kingdom of Women”, located 350 miles east of Fu-Sang, where children grew to adulthood in four years, and where the women were “shy and hairy”. References were made to mountains which were covered all year round in snow, and a black gorge. Also a luminous dragon. Um.

However, among all the marvels and rather fanciful descriptions given by the monk - women copulating with serpents, birds that gave birth to humans, a fountain of wine - the one thing the court of the emperor could not believe was the idea of women choosing husbands. How, they asked, could females be granted such power? Ludicrous! Next you’ll be asking us to believe mountains of fire can exist - oh. Oh. You are asking us to believe mountains of fire can exist. Well, you know, maybe they can. We’ve heard stranger things. But women choosing husbands? Come on brother: you’re pulling the proverbial here, aren’t you? Do us a lemon; we have brains, you know. You’re not talking to a bunch of uneducated savages now. The very idea!

Notwithstanding the above, scholars now believe that the Chinese did indeed start a colony in California around the fifth century, and in 1751 a French academic was perhaps the first to voice the opinion or theory that Columbus had been beaten to the discovery of America. Well beaten. By about a thousand years, give or take. This was long before the West was opened up, of course, before even the Louisiana Purchase, and before the very existence of Alaska was known. The west coast of America didn’t even appear on maps at this time, and would have been looked upon with as much mystery and trepidation as the old “Darkest Africa”, a place to wonder about but never to contemplate visiting, where strange beasts and even stranger humans might roam, where odd and savage practices might be carried out, and where the chances of escaping with one’s life if one ventured there might be very low indeed.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2022, 10:01 AM   #23 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default

A century later, arguments erupted as to a) the actual authenticity of the account (many believed it was nothing more than an elaborate story made to amuse the royal court) but if so then b) the identity of the country Hui-Shen landed in. Some insisted it was not America but Japan, but those who discounted that theory and maintained the monk had made it to America calculated that he might have landed in Mexico, possibly at Acapulco. Chinese researchers, of course, think it’s a grand idea; the chance to upstage the Americans with the embarrassing evidence that their country was actually discovered by a communist one! Or at least, visited by them long before they themselves got there. But politics and points-scoring aside, there does seem to be a lot of evidence to support this theory.

And here again we say hello to Henriette Mertz.

Remember her? She was the one to support the journey of the Great Yu a little earlier above. She weighed in on this one too, and began trying to retrace the path of Hui-Shen using information given in his account. And once again she was able to verify, as far as possible, the journey of the Buddhist monk. It’s easiest if I just paste this bit. Easier for me, anyway, than trying to explain it in my fumbling way.

She assumed that the Buddhists had begun their journey in the south of China, the place where Hui-Shen returned to tell the story, and that it ended up in southern California, the place they called Fu-Sang. She believed the monks landed on the coast in the vicinity of Los Angeles—Point Hueneme, to be precise. They then went east 350 miles and arrived on the Mogollon Mesa of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, the area Mertz identified as the “Kingdom of Women.” She found that some three hundred miles north, as per Hui-Shen’s account, lay the noted black canyon in western Colorado called “The Black Canyon of the Gunnison.” North of this canyon stands majestic Mount Gunnison and still farther north
is the snowcapped mountain Hui-Shen mentioned, Snowmass.

To the south of the Mogollon Mesa in Mexico are two wellknown smoking mountains, according to Mertz, Popocatepetl, whose name means smoking mountain, and the Volcán de Colima. Mertz thinks Hui-Shen’s “smoking mountain” in the Kingdom of Women was Volcán, which is located near the coast. West from the Kingdom, noted Mertz, are innumerable springs, including Warner Hot Springs and Palm Springs. And right in the heart of Los Angeles are the La Brea Tar Pits, which sounds suspiciously like Hui-Shen’s sea of varnish. Mertz could not pin down which California lake Hui-Shen called a “sea the color of milk,” as many California lakes have dried up over time and all that now remains of them is the salt solution on their bottoms. These beds of salt and borax glisten snow white under the desert sun. Mertz believed that Hui-Shen’s Fu-Sang plant was ancient com, which was sometimes pear-shaped and reddish and could be kept for a year without spoilage.

Other researchers have suggested that the Fu-Sang plant might be a reference to the prickly pear or the cactus apple. Still others viewed it as a reference to the century plant, which is known as maguey in Mexico. The sprouts of the century plant do resemble bamboo and are eaten, and cloth and paper are made from its fibers. The plant also resembles a tree, as its tall branching and flowering candelabralike stalk often reaches as much as thirty feet in height. But it does not bear red pearshaped fruit. When it came to the circular living quarters of Hui-Shen’s Kingdom of Women, Mertz found an answer for this as well. She thought they resembled the adobe houses found among the Indians of central Arizona. Their burrowlike entrances were just as he had described. She also thought that the dog’s heads on their men might be a reference to the kachina ceremonial masks, which were made of wood, feathers, furs, and skin and looked like cows, eagles, snakes, and dogs. They were worn by the men when praying for rain and during other spiritual occasions.

While some have interpreted Hui-Shen’s Kingdom of Women with its hairy ladies and precocious children as a reference to Central American monkeys, Mertz saw a reference to a matrilineal people such as the Pueblos of the southwest. Among the matrilineal Hopi, for instance, houses were owned by women, and their clans were related through the females. A child was bom into his mother’s clan and was named by his mother’s sister. Such a matriarchal system in which the women exercised control over persons or property would certainly have seemed quite odd to the Chinese. Mertz also found a reasonable explanation for Hui-Shen’s outrageous notion of snakes as husbands. Hopi men belonged to a Snake Clan and considered themselves one with the snake. The Hopi legend of the Spider Woman tells how the Snake Clan came to be.

One day the son of a chief and the Spider Woman encountered a group of men and women who, after dressing themselves in snakeskins, turned into snakes. The Spider Woman helped the son’s chief catch a beautiful young girl who had been turned into a yellow rattler. He eventually married her, but the children she bore him were all snakes. Not happy with this situation, the tribe sent them away to another pueblo. The couple then had more children, but this time their offspring were human. This made the male children blood brothers of the snakes and explains how the Snake Clan came to be. Mertz even came to understand the odd nursing behavior HuiShen had observed. The monk said that the papooses carried on the backs of their mothers were fed by a white substance that came from the hair at the nape of the mother’s neck. But Indian women customarily gathered their long hair at the nape of the neck and tied it with white ribbons. What could be more natural, said Mertz, than for a baby strapped to his mother’s back to be attracted to this white ribbon? The baby with the ribbon in its mouth would look to a naïve observer from a distance as though the baby was feeding.

Mertz also found a myth held by the Pima Indians of Arizona to explain why Hui-Shen said that children became adults by the age of three or four. The legend of Hâ-âk says that the daughter of a chief gave birth to a strange-looking female creature who grew to maturity in three or four years. But because she ate everything in sight, she was eventually killed. This event was celebrated with a great feast, and the Pima eventually built a shrine in honor of this day five miles north of Sacaton, Arizona. Mertz speculates that HuiShen might even have passed by this shrine and been told of this legend. And the salt plant these people ate, Mertz has identified as Anemonopsis californica, a plant with a large root and a strong medicinal scent that grows in salt-bed depressions in southern California.

So that’s all nice and explained then. Glad we had someone like Mertz to suss it all out, because it had me bamboozled. As usual though, there are a large portion of scientists who just simply don’t believe her. There’s no way to know for sure if she is right, but her unravelling of the rather fantastic account does make a certain amount of sense. Whether she was fitting her theory to the facts or vice versa is hard to say, but then, it seems all the skeptics keep doing this anyway, so why not her?

Further evidence comes in the shape of the wheel, or to be more precise, the unearthing of small toy animals on wheels from sites in Mexico in the 1940s, dated from the third century. So what, say you? So buttons, say I: the wheel was not even known, never mind invented, in South America at this time, so how did these people not only know of it, but construct toys that ran on wheels? The only possible answer is that they had learned of these things from the Chinese who had visited them, or that the artifacts were made by Chinese craftsmen living there.

Which came first? The chicken or… the chicken?

How such a humble thing as the main ingredient in your Sunday dinner could come to have such an important bearing on who was first to discover America is a long and interesting story. And here it is. History teaches us that the Spanish, those well-known conquerors of native civilisations and plunderers of gold and silver (the mythical city isn’t named El Dorado by accident) brought chickens to America, that the natives had never seen, heard of and certainly never tasted the flesh of these fowl most common in the West. But as usual, history is telling us if not lies, then at least half-truths.

The evidence (that pesky evidence again!) seems to support the presence of chickens in at least South America (or Mesoamerica, as they call it) long before the Spaniards got there. They already had names for them, not based on the European ones of gallo and gallina but as Takara and karaka, names known to originate in the Hindu language. Even los hombres themselves, arriving in Brazil from about 1519, differentiate between the two types in their accounts. Some of the chickens they encountered there had black skin, feathers more like hair, small pea combs as opposed to the large coxcombs of the European chicken, and were sixteen feet tall. Nah just kidding. They were only fourteen. Sorry. I go a bit funny sometimes.

No, but these chickens, believed to have come from Asia, possibly India or Indonesia, also had no tails, so there’s no way they could have been from Europe. Naturally, these events were glossed over in the official history, and everyone led to believe that the servants of their Most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella had graciously introduced the savage natives to the Spanish chicken. The Inca - soon to regret ever bumping into the servants of their Most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella, who would very quickly do the Catholic thing and destroy their very race - had an emperor who was called Atahualpa, due to the Inca word for chicken being gualpa (presumably pronounced with a “h” sound) and so every time the cock crowed it would seem like it was calling the emperor’s name, and he would be remembered for eternity. Sadly, this did not work out, and nobody remembered him because the servants of their Most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella made pretty damn sure there was nobody left to remember him. Sources do not indicate what happened to the chickens.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2022, 07:48 PM   #24 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default


ROME

There is no actual physical evidence of Roman occupation of or habitation in America, but there are shipwrecks. Lying at the bottom of Guanabara Bay off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, the wreckage of at least three vessels believed to be Roman were found in 1982, which immediately set alarm bells ringing over by the Iberian Peninsula, as Spain and Portugal both began to see a growing threat to their claims that their boy was the one to have discovered America. They even warned the Brazilian government that they, the Spanish and Portuguese, would be obliged to extend immediate Brazilian citizenship to all Italians in that country, just as they did to all Portuguese immigrants. Um, what? How is that a threat? Are they saying that they would make the Romans - all those long-dead sailors Brazilians? How would that help?

In the apparent interest of deterring plunderers, the Brazilians caved and had the entire area covered over with muck and silt, preventing any possible embarrassing discovery that might, sorry, rock the boat. This wasn’t the first time the might of Spain and Portugal had combined to ensure the lie about Columbus was maintained. In 1972 permission was refused by the Honduran government for divers to access a shipwreck which might have turned out to have predated the Santa Maria. Let the gravy train roll on boys, let the gravy train roll on. Or in this case I guess, gravy boat.

Here comes Professor Barry Fell again.

Nothing could be done to prevent ancient Roman coins being dug up in a field in Massachusetts, except to mutter that they must have been - say it with me - lost by a careless collector. But our man Barry ain’t having that. The fact that there are the images of four consecutive emperors on these coins and that they were all found in the same spot make that theory bollocks, to quote Professor Fell. All right, I’m not quoting him, but I’m sure that’s what he’d like to say if he didn’t have to observe the professional niceties. Our Barry reckons they came from a Roman merchant ship which would have arrived in America around 375, still a thousand years ahead of Senor Colon. Again though, the evidence keeps piling up and again the skeptics, or those with something to lose, keep denying it.

In Mexico, the terracotta head of a Roman figurine, dated to the third century, was unearthed from a grave in 1933, in Alabama in 1942 it was an oil lamp from Pompeii, first century AD, and again in Virginia four years later, this time a goblet again from the worst possible place to have gone for a holiday in ancient times. Unless your ideal holiday, of course, entailed being covered over with mountains of volcanic ash, in which case, you were sorted. A grave containing the skeletons of what turned out to be nine Jews was discovered in 1889 in Tennessee (though originally dismissed as nothing since the inscription was read upside-down). Yeah. Again let me hand you over to Patrick Huyghe: he explains it so much better than I could.

In 1889, a stone measuring about five inches long and two inches wide and inscribed with eight Hebrew characters was excavated by John Emmert, a field assistant then employed by the Smithsonian Institution. He found the stone along with two brass bracelets and what appeared to be polished wooden earspools under the skull of one of nine skeletons that had been carefully laid out at the bottom of an unrifled burial mound measuring twenty-eight feet in diameter and five feet high. The curator of ethnology at the Smithsonian, in a report on the excavations published five years later, expressed the opinion that the mound was made in historic times by the Indians and that the inscription was in Cherokee syllabic script. Therefore, he concluded, it could not be older than the early nineteenth century. But the curator never realized that he had read the script upside down.

More than a half century later, when scholars turned the inscription right side up, they found the letters “LYHWD” in Hebrew. In 1972, Cyrus Gordon, a Hebrew scholar at Brandéis University, recognized that the letters belonged to the Hebrew style of the Roman period. He noted in particular that the shape of the Hebrew “W” occurred on coins of the Bar Kokhba revolt. The embellishment of letters with a little drilled hole, as atop the L and Y, was typical of Hebrew coins of the Roman period. This enabled Gordon to translate the text as “A comet for the Jews,” a standard phrase dating from the revolt of a.d. 125 when Bar Kokhba was associated with prophecy regarding a comet.

Gordon assigned a date of about a.d. 135 to the migration of Jewish refugees to America, partially on the basis of the coin finds in neighboring Kentucky. A recent investigation shows that Gordon’s estimate was in the right ballpark. In 1988, a Swiss laboratory, with the cooperation of the Smithsonian, was able to determine the age of a piece of wood from one of the earspools found with the skeletons and the Bat Creek stone. By the use of accelerator mass spectrometry, the date obtained shows the Bat Creek burial to have taken place about 1,605 years ago, give or take 170 years. If this time period is correct, the brass bracelets found with the skeletons could only have come from the Old World.


So there you have it. Proof positive. Well no, not really. Prominent archaeologists dismiss it because, well, it just really doesn’t fit in with their theories, and they decided to accuse the guy who excavated the grave as having forged the text. Sure why not? Ohio State University did not agree, and published an article backing up the veracity of the tomb, but of course nobody can prove it for certain and it’s all a case of could have been, may have been, is possible that and so on. Other finds were unearthed in Newark and Ohio, but again their authenticity has been disputed. South of the border though, down Mexico way, is a site that nobody disputes.

Comalcalco, a Mayan site in the southeastern corner of Mexico, is a site of almost four hundred structures, including a pyramid, made out of bricks whose source is definitely not local, as the site lies about sixty miles from any usable building stone at all. Our man Barry checked out the bricks - or some of them; I guess he was hardly likely to examine tens or hundreds of thousands of the things! - and noted they seem to have a Roman stonemason’s mark on them, a sort of CE symbol I guess, Guaranteed Roman, Best in the Empire, sort of thing.

SCANDINAVIA

While they would probably prefer to stick to the myth of Columbus having been the first to discover America, those with a fixation that only a white man could have been there before anyone else will at least be slightly cheered by the evidence that they may be right. Just, you know, not in the way they think. Evidence shows clearly the presence of a Norwegian known as Woden-lithi, a trader who sailed from Ringerike in Norway about 3,600 years ago to do business in Canada. He was however not an explorer, had no interest in discovering a new land (and anyway for him it would not have been so, as there were people there already and he was going there to trade with them) and once he had sorted his business he fucked off back to Norway and is lost to history, just another businessman taking a trip south to conduct some business. Technically speaking also, I guess you might say even if he had been credited with the discovery, it would not have been of America, as he only went as far as Canada, around the Toronto area.

Petroglyphs, which I assume from my limited (i.e., almost non-existent) knowledge of Latin, are rock carvings, graffiti on stone, show pictures of boats and sea vessels which are not believed to have existed in the American continent at that time. The Native Americans certainly did not have them, the best they could muster being dugout canoes, while these petroglyphs clearly depicted long ships with carved animal figureheads and masts, and graffiti later translated by an expert on Norse languages seems to speak of the visit of a Scandinavian king, so we know that Woden-lithi was no simple tradesman, though he did come to Canada to buy copper for use in bronze manufacture.

Red, White and Green: Erik the Red and the Flotation of Greenland

Life could be tough for Vikings around the tenth century. Known as vicious marauders who would quite literally kill you as soon as look at you, they worshipped the fierce Norse gods Odin (or Woden), Thor and Loki, and believed the only way to die with honour was in battle yadda yadda but eventually all of this killing, pillaging, plundering and stomping about became tiring, and Vikings began to consider a change of god, the Christian one looking a decent substitute. Which is to say, by the tenth century most Norse had converted to Christianity, given up the plundering, pillaging and fighting (perhaps indulging in the odd rape, but sure you can’t expect a man to change overnight can you now?) and settled down to be farmers and traders.

That’s all very well and good. As most warrior civilisations have found out down through history, that sort of full-on-us-against-the-world attitude can’t last, and as you get older as a people you need to have the odd breather, these becoming longer and more frequent till eventually you say “Ah fuck it! I’m not going plundering today. There’s Goldfinger on the telly!” or words to that effect, Basically, all warrior peoples go one of two ways: they settle down and ditch the warrior ways or they warrior themselves right out of existence. So the Norse chose the first option, and life became a lot easier and quite possibly better.

Except for poor Erik the Red, that is.

Erik was born in Norway but his father was exiled to Iceland for manslaughter. Now, in the good old days of the “real” Vikings, this would have engendered likely nothing more than a few grins down the local and a round of beers, clapped shoulders all round and maybe one or two guys might fight it out to the death, just for the hell of it, as Vikings did. In fact, it’s not widely known (since I made it up but it could have been true) that a Viking heading down to the Axe and Sword for a quiet twenty pints or so with the lads might growl to his wife “I’ll be back at sunrise, unless I get killed, in which case make sure my sons have a father. Cheers love!” A night on the razz in downtown Oslo or Bergen could be a dangerous affair.

But after the Christian God was adopted the kind of harmless fun Vikings had been known to indulge in became illegal, murder even, and thus Thorvald, Erik’s dad, was kicked out of Norway for explaining the finer points of his argument with, well, the finer points of a battleaxe maybe. Not wishing to be outdone, Erik too got himself exiled. See, neither Erik nor his old man had accepted Jesus into their lives. In fact, they told the shocked priests just exactly where Jesus could stick his eternal salvation and brotherhood to all men, and further, went on to say that if he and Erik could find their way into the Kingdom of Heaven, they would be sure to ransack it and carry off as many angels as one man could manage.

In other words, Thorvald remained a staunch supporter of Odin, and when Erik followed in his dad’s footsteps his wife, a true Christian now, told him she’d be damned (literally) if she would lie with a pagan, and that if he wanted some he had better make with the holy water and that sign of the cross that was becoming so popular, adding that she was sure Mrs. Sharpaxe at number seven didn’t have this trouble with her husband, who converted dutifully when told to, nor even Mrs. Wolfclaw, who she had never liked but at least knew how to keep her man in line. How, she may have wailed, could Erik embarrass and scandalise her so? Clinging to outmoded beliefs, talking about Valhalla as if it existed, when everyone knew that the only real place you went when you died was Heaven? Did he realise that everyone was laughing at him?

Erik may have realised, but did not care, and so when - possibly due to having been forced into celibacy - he took exception to his neighbour killing all his slaves, and addressed his concerns by killing said neighbour, the council of elders shook their heads and said come on now, this isn’t the seventh century you know Erik. Perhaps a spell in that undiscovered land to the southwest is just what you need, yeah the one with no name. Off you go, and don’t come back for, oh, let’s say three years.

And off he went. The land he was exiled to turned out to be pretty much the same as Iceland, but in a move worthy of the greatest spindoctors and PR executives today, and completely ignoring the fact that it was a total lie, Erik named the new land Greenland, and began trying to attract settlers. Many of them, perhaps fed up with the Christian god and his incessant bans on just about everything that was enjoyable, to say nothing of that fucking Latin they had to listen to, joined him. It’s not recorded what the first would-be settlers to arrive there had to say on seeing what they had invested in, but it’s a fair bet that it would have gone along the basic lines of “Fuck me! Where’s all this green then? Don’t see much of that. White we got, grey too. No green though. You sure you named this place properly, Erik me old son? Did you maybe mean Greyland?”

As an aside, you have to laugh at the names these guys either gave themselves or were given. Erik’s neighbour, to whom he was most un-neighbourly, was known as Eyjolf the Foul, and one of the men who rose against Erik later in the ensuing dispute went by Thorad the Yeller (I’m going to assume that meant he shouted loudly, not that he was a coward). But what did Erik the Red have to do with the exploration of America? Well, nothing actually, but his son sure did.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2022, 08:02 PM   #25 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default


Leif Ericssson

Reacting to the tales of one of his countrymen, Bjarni Herjolfsson, who had discovered what is generally taken to have been north coastal America quite by accident as he tried to find his father, who had emigrated to Greenland (Bjarni obviously wasn’t the world’s greatest navigator), but who had not bothered to make landfall tehre, being in a hurry and not very interested, Erik’s son Leif decided to retrace Bjarni’s route to see if he could find this strange country. It wasn’t too hard: America lies just over the Davis Strait from Greenland, about two hundred and fifty miles of a journey, a mere popping down to the shops for some tobacco and mead, can I pick you up anything for a Viking. So the tale of his long and arduous journey is in fact a short one, and though he met the natives of this new country, which he called Vinland (not to be confused with Finland, of course) he fell out with them and there were skirmishes, during one of which his brother Thorvald (named, no doubt, for his grandfather) was killed.

Leif’s actual intention in setting out to find Vinland was to convert its denizens to Christianity, which might explain why the denizens replied with arrows and violence, not being in any particular rush to drop their own gods, who had served them very well for millennia thank you, and weren’t you guys only recently worshipping Odin and Thor and all that lot? What happened to them, huh? You like those guys who only support a football team till they start losing and then change your allegiance? Well, not us. The Great Spirit is our man, and we’re sticking with him. Which is exactly what you can do with your god. Stick him, we mean.

Rather darkly amusing, Erik was offered a place in the ship and was all fired up to go, riding his horse towards the vessel and possibly drunkenly yelling “Let’s do this thing!” when he rather unfortunately slipped from his horse and landed on his arse maybe. Although he wasn’t badly injured (you’d be surprised how many people actually died from such accidents; King Richard II came a cropper when he and his horse parted company suddenly. Imagine that: survive the Crusades, battle the Muslims, fight all sorts of exotic diseases, thirst and hunger, make it home to Merry Old England at last, and break your fool neck falling from your saddle. Not much of an epitaph for a king, is it?) the incident convinced him it was a bad omen and he stayed behind. Really bad judgement on his part, as that winter plague swept through the town and did for him.

Leif is believed to have arrived in Canada first, around the Labrador area, and sailing west as winter began to set in, and unbeknownst to him, back home his dad was breathing his last and probably considering his imminent death a punishment from Odin for being such a big girl’s blouse as to be scared of a little old fall from a horse he came across another landmass which he called Vinland, or wine land. This has been more or less identified as having been Newfoundland. After sensibly spending the winter there, Leif upped sticks once the weather turned warmer and headed home, at such a leisurely pace that he even had time for a bit of castaway rescue on the way, earning him the nickname “Leif the Lucky”.

As an aside, there is a possibility that the crew he rescued, captained by one Thorir, may very well also have been to “Vinland”, or America, and obviously if so then Thorir had made it there before Leif. But as the only real accounts we have of this voyage come from personal family sagas, and they all concern only Leif and his family, Thorir doesn’t get a mention. However history may have done him an injustice. Of course, Bjarni was definitely, if we read this correctly, the first, but as he passed by, sort of Mister Burns-like (“Sir, I’ve arranged for the people of Australia to spell out your name in candles for your birthday. If you can just turn your head - BAH! No time!”) without bothering to land, never mind explore, he too is ignored by choniclers, and while he should really be on the top pedestal being awarded the gold medal, as it were, he ends up just a spectator.

For all his discovery of the continent though, it would be Leif’s brother, Thorvald, who would first properly explore it. He headed over there the following year and following his bro’s directions (“Two lefts and a right, then straight on; you can’t miss it”) he arrived in “Vinland” and explored away, unfortunately falling foul of the local population and losing his life, ending up buried in the new world. This did not sit well with Leif, who wanted him interred in his homeland, not some gods-forsaken wild country only newly discovered, and so he sent his son Thorstein to bring the body home. Unfortunately, though Thorvald had found it a doddle to make his way to Vinland, Thorstein had more trouble, exacerbated by a storm blowing up, and ended up being blown around instead to the other side of Greenland, where he rather inconveniently died.

So that was the end of the Norse adventures in America was it? Not a bit of it. Don’t you know these people yet? Adventure flows in their blood, even if it had been thinned by the ideas of men in black dresses who thought everyone should love each other as long as they all worshipped the same god, if not they deserved to burn like evil heretics. Gudrid, Thorstein’s widow remarried and prevailed upon her new husband to check out Vinland. Thorfinn Karlsefni, outfitting a major expedition, headed off. Thorfinn wasn’t fucking around though: he didn’t just intend to explore, or gather what resources he could and hightail it back to Greenland, oh no. He wanted to set up a permanent colony on Vinland, and he brought men, women, livestock and supplies, ready to settle the country in the name of the Norse and Leif Erikson.

Far from, then, Columbus and his men being the first white men to arrive in America, Gudrid’s son, Snorri, is said to have been the very first white man born in America, so if anyone owns “white privilege” in America it’s the Scandinavians. But here’s the thing.

There are two family sagas that recount the adventures of the Norse in America, and the one called The Saga of Erik the Red puts a very different complexion on Thorfinn’s expedition. This one says that, far from being a peaceful and mostly uneventful exploration of Vinland, Thorfinn’s time there resulted in a terrible war with the natives, which led to the death of Thorvald. This directly contradicts the source The Saga of the Greenlanders, which tells us Leif’s brother died in Greenland of a disease. According to Erik the Red, not only was he still alive at the time Thorfinn went back to America, but he fought alongside him. And died there. So it’s hard to know which one to take as the right one, if either is. Still, according to the Erik the Red account, the war with the native population sent Thorfinn back to Greenland, deeming it too much trouble to set up a permanent presence in Vinland, and on his return the Norse shrugged and forgot all about America.

In essence then, both accounts tally in at least the result, that the Norse forsook their attempts to colonise America, though the reason given in Erik the Red makes more sense than that in Greenland, as otherwise what was to stop Thorfinn or other Norse returning to Vinland? Only if Thorfinn came back and said “forget it lads, them natives is fucking crazy. The land may be fertile but I will be double fucked if I’m going back to face them headcases again, and nor should you.” Thorvald’s fate? Well, let’s give him an honourable Viking death, falling in battle rather than the rather ignominious one of dying from a nasty disease in his homeland, huh? He’d probably have preferred that, whether or not it’s the truth.

The fact that they abandoned the idea of a colony there though did not stop other Norse visiting America, and it’s kind of nice in a way to see that even Jesus Christ the Redeemer couldn’t quite redeem the Vikings, as told in the story of Freydis, bastard daughter of Erik, and so half-sister to Leif, who had been with Thorfinn on his ill-fated expedition, and had hatched a plot on her return, roping in two brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, to help her out and return to Vinland where she said there were massive profits to be had, which she would share with the brothers. She left out the rather important fact that neither of them would leave Vinland alive, as, slaying them both and all their men and women, she grabbed all the riches and hied her back to Greenland as fast as her men could sail. But her treachery was uncovered, and left such a stain on the idea of Vinland that no self-respecting Norseman would ever go near there again.

The western world was, as per usual, slow, and very sulkily reluctant, to agree or recognise that men from Scandinavia had been to America almost half a millennium before their darling, and even in the eighteenth century the stories told in the two Sagas were dismissed as myth, fairy tales, made-up nonsense. But history usually has the last laugh, and when actual physical evidence of the occupation was unearthed over a non-consecutive period of ten years (1961 to 1968 and then 1973 to 1976; don’t ask me why the big gap, maybe funding dried up?) they had no choice. The findings were clear: houses, boatsheds, a smithy, a kiln, cooking houses were all excavated in Newfoundland in a place called L’Anse aux Meadows, along with artifacts such as pins, bits of iron, copper and charcoal, all dated back to the eleventh century.

Accounts from Indian tribes, too, speak of men with blue eyes and yellow hair, who came in long boats with animal heads, and who the Indians worshipped like gods. The story is also told of a Viking ship found buried in the side of a mountain in a desert in California, witnessed only by three people we know of, but buried in an earthquake soon after, all trace of it lost. And then of course there are the inscriptions, records of travels and trade supposedly carved in rocks by the Norse, and found from Rhode Island to Colorado. I hardly need tell you that most if not all of these are pronounced fake or too recent by most researchers to be of any help in establishing evidence of the Norse presence in America, do I? In Mexico though, there’s some pretty strong - circumstantial, of course, but still - evidence to suggest the god of the Aztecs, Quetzcoatl, the winged serpent, is based on a Norse traveller who got marooned there and taught the people to turn away from human sacrifice. Yet another theory holds that the legend of the Amazons of South America can be traced back to the presence of Norse women in Paraguay.

Whatever the skeptics want to think, however much they may resist the idea, it is in fact quite impossible, and wilfully ignorant and arrogant to try to deny the Norse explored America in the early eleventh century. Why they did not succeed in establishing a permanent colony is dependent on many factors, not least of which was the hostility of the native population and their being outnumbered, far from home, and with no supply route to maintain a sustained offensive against the Indians. But advancing glaciers which choked the sea with ice, the similar advance of a darker and much more deadly barrier, the Black Death, and a general fight for survival surely took precedence over the need to explore, as Greenland was cut off from the rest of Europe and its population, like that of Europe itself, declined severely.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2022, 10:48 AM   #26 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default


IRISH/CELTS

Despite their almost stubborn and concerted efforts to do so, it’s hard for scientists to ignore the evidence when it’s staring them in the face. In Maine there’s a carving of a dude, sorry druid, who looks very Celtic. In Vermont a burial chamber has been found which is decorated with Celtic script proclaiming it as being dedicated to Bel, the ancient Sun god of the Celts while in - perhaps ironically - Salem (not that one), New Hampshire, a collection of dolmens and megaliths look very Celtic too. Bel pops up again in Colorado, where in a cave called, um, Crack Cave, there’s an inscription in Ogham (ancient Celtic alphabet, see my History of Ireland journal for more) which says “Strike on here.” Huh? Sorry, sorry: “Strikes here on the day of Bel.” Okay, well, still sounds like a call to the Celts to down tools... All right, if you insist. You're no fun anymore. Rather like the burial chamber in Newgrange in Ireland, the sun’s first rays at the summer solstice (June 21) do indeed strike the inscription first.

A small tool believed to be a bone comb was found at the hilariously-named Snapp’s Bridge (wouldn't fancy crossing that!) in Tennessee, but was later discovered to be a stamping tool for use on pottery, made by, you guessed it, Celts again. Iberian ones this time. No not Siberian: Iberian, the countries now known as Spain and Portugal. Oh, and two skeletons too - or what was left of them - which date from about the third century BC. Inscribed stones believed to have been the work of Basque Celts have been found all over Pennsylvania, while back in Stephen King country, there are Celtic Ogham inscriptions in Maine which say “Ships from Phoenicia; Cargo Platform”, and that leads us to the next bunch who got more than a jump on Columbus.

Land of Saints and Sailors: The Voyage of Saint Brendan

Personally, when someone has “saint” before their name, I tend to treat with a certain amount of skepticism the evidence of their existence, but I probably should not. I mean, essentially these are men and women who surely existed, are perhaps credited with miracles which then elevated them to be canonised by the Catholic Church. Saint Patrick certainly seems to have existed, as did Saint George and Saint Bernadette; in fact, most if not all saints probably were real people.

Opinion, however, remains divided as to the actual existence of Saint Brendan, an Irish monk who, in the sixth century, set sail across the Atlantic, something I believe no Irishman had attempted before. Whether he was real or not - the account of his voyage was only compiled three hundred years after his death - there’s also doubt as to whether he made the voyage described therein, but there are those who believe he did. Taking those people as our lodestar, we’ll cast off with this enigmatic Irish priest and see where he takes us.

From what we know of him, Brendan was born in Tralee in County Kerry in about 484. Rising to the position of abbot, he seems to have perhaps missed his calling, as he was said to have been an expert sailor and very interested in exploration, sailing the coast of Ireland and on to Scotland and Wales, the Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, and as far as Brittany in France. He seems to have lived to about 90, a good age for the time, especially for someone who engaged in such strenuous and potentially dangerous activities. Unlike the Spanish and even, as discussed above, the Chinese Buddhist missionaries, Brendan did not set out to convert, but as a monk simply to find a place of solitude and grace, a place to be at one with God, a retreat at which he could dedicate his life to pure prayer. Sure we’ve all felt like that at one time or another, right? Right? Hello? Have it your own way then.

From what we’re told in Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot) it seems he was not the first Irish monk to see America, at least according to another one called Barinthus, who came to him (according to the book) and told him he had found a beautiful land in the west, the “Promised Land of the Saints.” Brendan decided he’d go and have a look for this mythical place, as it sounded just like the sort of thing for a man ready to settle down and devote his life to God, with no distractions or interruptions. “Promised Land of the Saints?” he almost certainly did not say, “That sounds just the ticket. Go raibh mile mhath agat, mo chara (Thanks pal) - I’ll go and take a butchers.”

Apparently monks were good at other things than praying and tsking at single mothers, as Brendan and fourteen others of his order constructed the ship that would take him across the ocean, then another three appeared and, not having taken part in the work, cadged a lift so that there were eighteen people eventually in the curragh, or skin-covered low-sitting boat, when it departed. With so much symbolism, mythology and outright fiction included in the narrative, it’s hard to plot the course Brendan and his monks followed, but scholars (those who believe he existed as well as those who believe he made the voyage and didn’t just cobble the account together from details of other journeys) reckon he made landfall around the Faroe Islands first. In a twist used almost twelve hundred years later in Star Wars, it’s related that at one point the boys landed on an island but that when it began to move they realised they were actually on the surface of a whale! No doubt they blessed it and moved on.

But sure isn’t it always the same? You can go to the farthest corners of the earth on holidays and who will you meet but your next-door neighbour or office colleague? So it was that when the monks landed on what is believed to be one of the islands in the Azores, Flores, they met a party of Irish monks who were living there, and had a monastery and all sorted out and going for nearly as long as Brendan had been born. Sure throw on the kettle there will ya, like a good lad! I’m gasping, so I am! Christmas being near, nobody wanted to spend it bobbing along on the ocean so they decided to kip down with the lads till the festive, sorry holy season was over, and sure didn’t they have a grand time? Well, I don’t know that they did, but I assume it was better than constant cries of “Any land yet?” with attendant groans in the negative, and some possibly very unholy comments on why they had ever left Ireland in the first place, and how they could murder a pint of mead.

565 didn’t start too well for our Brendan, with his craft constantly being blown back the way he had come. “I said WEST, damn it I mean darn it I mean if you please brother!” Like some sort of aquatic ping-pong ball the monks’ vessel bounced from west to east, east to west, played with by the prevailing winds, called, maddeningly for the boys, the Westerlies. But they blow east… Look, don’t ask me, all right? I’m just the author here. I don’t know nothing about winds in the Azores, okay? After a bad pint (of water) at São Miguel the lads weren’t feeling too clever, but pushed on regardless, fifth time lucky perhaps? No such luck. This time they got trapped, Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner-like, in the Sargasso Sea, where they remained becalmed for twenty days. Brendan told the monks to trust in God. It’s possible some of the monks advised him where he could shove God, but eventually a wind rose and they were able to sail on… right into the path of an approaching killer whale, whose attentions they only avoided by the rather convenient expedient of another whale appearing and fighting it. I didn’t know whales fought. Well these did, if we’re to believe the old Navigatio, and I guess Brendan and the lads must have credited the appearance of the second one to God, and the monk or monks who had blasphemed his name possibly looked sheepish.

“Hey! We’re going to Barbados!” they almost categorically did not sing, for three reasons. One, they had no idea where they were going, two the song would not be written for another millennium and a half and three, well, they were monks, and in all likelihood only sang for the greater glory of God, or to give Him a headache and remind him they were, yes, still out here, Lord, drifting around like frigging drifting things, pardon our Irish. If you could see your mighty way clear any time soon to finding us some bloody land that would be just great, if it’s not too much trouble, yours in adoration but very much approaching exasperation now, Brendan and the monks. PS No we are not a bloody rock band. Rock has not been invented yet.

Anyway, they found Barbados distinctly lacking in scantily-clothed natives and without suspicious clouds of smoke wreathing the place, thought “well this can’t be the Promised Land of the Saints, can it?” and moved briskly on, though for centuries afterwards, right up to and after indeed 1492, Barbados was known as “St. Brendan’s Isle.” Staying a mere three months (some say three days: doesn’t time fly when you’re on a completely uninhabited island with a bunch of irritable monks?) off they went. On the way they had a pink flamingo - oh no wait: a pink flamingo dropped a branch on their boat. This led them to the Bahamas, where they stayed for a while, snaffling all the cool fruit they could when they left, and quite possibly sporting a most un-monkish (and un-Irish) tan. Finding themselves north of Newfoundland and south of Greenland they came across an iceberg, which would surely have been the first time any Irishman had seen such a thing. They weren’t the Titanic though and didn’t crash into it, though they did circle it and measure it at 2,100 feet. That’s more than five times the size of the one that did for the world’s most famous shipwreck.

Some time later (there’s no real measurement of time in the Navigatio: they use phrases such as “on a certain day” as well as using “forty days” as a general yardstick for a long time) it seems Satan must have been trying to scupper the voyage. Perhaps they were getting too close to the Promised Land of the Saints? Anyway here’s the rather amusing take Saint Brendan had on it, with what Huyghe believes to be the explanation following it.

"Suddenly, from a “rocky” island ahead of them, they heard the banging of hammers of iron and anvils, and assumed the island was “full of workers.” One of the “workers” ran down to the shore and hurled a fiery mass at them, which missed, fell into the sea, and began to glow. More fiery masses were hurled after they had passed. “The entire island was burning like a furnace and the sea boiled up... .” From a great distance “a very offensive stench reached their nose.” Brendan called the area “the confines of hell.”

This vivid description suggests that the traveling monks had witnessed the eruption of a submarine volcano. Given the limited geographic occurrence of this phenomenon, the episode provides a good indication of Brendan’s position. Northeast of the summer iceberg region about a thousand miles lies the submarine ridge off the Reykianes Peninsula on the southwestern comer of Iceland. A number of islands are known to have appeared in this region as a result of volcanic eruptions in the course of history.


It’s quite interesting how people who had no idea such things even existed, never mind ever saw one before, interpreted these phenomena. To Brendan’s credit, he didn’t necessarily attribute it to Satan (that was me messing about) though as you can see he did consider the possibility that they had sailed close to Hell.

Bad luck continued to dog the voyage, maybe because of those comments as to where God could stick it, and as they approached “The Land of Fire” (Iceland) one of the monks was chosen to go ashore and explore the dark soil around the boiling mountain. I like to think it was the one I’ve decided grumbled about God. You can just see it can’t you?

Saint Brendan: “Right lads, sure this looks terrible interesting altogether. One of us better check it out. What about you, Brother Sean?”
Brother Sean: “What? Just because I took the Lord’s name in vain? You want me to go onto that dangerous island?”
Saint Brendan: “God moves in mysterious ways, brother. Now get out there before He mysteriously moves me to plant me foot up your arse.”
Brother Sean: “Grumble, grumble AAAAGHHH!”
God: “Got ya ya bastard! Slag ME off, will ya?”

Or perhaps not. Either way, the monks quickly realised, to their cost - but more especially to the cost of the one who went or was sent to investigate - that volcanos are probably best studied ,if at all, by those who know what they’re doing and have all the proper gear. Perhaps ironic that on a country named as the coldest in the world someone should die from excessive heat, but as they say, God moves etc. With one monk less, Brendan and hte lads sailed on till they came to a big rock in the middle of the sea where they met a hermit who told them “Ireland? Ah sure ye can’t miss it lads. Straight on for another seven days and ye’ll be home.” Thereafter the arrived back on the shores of Erin, August 565, having spent years at sea and possibly being able to lay claim to being the true discoverer of America.

Not at all surprisingly, few give this account credence - after all, who wants to admit that a holy man from Ireland discovered America before a dissolute drunk from Italy happened to stumble across it a millennium later? But explorer Tim Severin did at least prove Brendan’s voyage was possible, as in 1976 he retraced the route the monks were said to have taken, in an exact replica of the curragh Brendan and his companions sailed.

The voyage of Saint Brendan may be the most famous - if least credited - visit of the Irish to America, but it was not the only one. When Norsemen arrived there in 982 they spoke of a colony called Hvitramannaland, White Man’s Land, where monks had established a settlement there prior to the arrival of the Norse.

The other name for this colony was Great Ireland.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2022, 11:00 AM   #27 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default


WALES



Madoc, um, someone: may be our man, may not (read on below)

You Lucky, Lucky Bastard! Madoc becomes yet another to discover America before you-know-who

Somewhat like our friend Abubakari, this prince of Wales also got tired of constant wars and fighting, and decided to take to the seas. Truth to tell, the fact that he was illegitimate and people likely (not) hailed him as “How’s it going, your Bastard Highness?” or “Madoc, you old bastard!” may have influenced his decision. Authenticating his story though has proven difficult, to say the least, in part because of there being so many Madocs - six in all - which researchers down the centuries have gotten all mixed up and muddled into one figure. The true Madoc, son of the King of Wales, is said to have been Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd, and another factor in his buggering off to find America might have been his exile to Lundy Island. Why he was exiled is uncertain: it couldn’t have been because he was illegitimate, as his father the king had at least two dozen children, few if any of them born within wedlock. It’s possible, I suppose, that His Majesty dear old dad may have grumped “Not another fucking bastard! Right you, I’ve just about had it now. Off to Lundy with ya, and let me hear no more about ye!”

Or not. But anyway on his death there was the usual scramble for power and riches, land and of course the throne, but for whatever reason (maybe because he had no real claim to it) Madoc was not interested. He instead turned to the stories of the Norse sagas and Leif Erikson’s discovery of Vinland, which I already wrote about. There had been a Norse settlement on Lundy, to which he was exiled, since the ninth century, and there Madoc may even have met one who is mentioned in the sagas and who had travelled with Leif to that new world. Madoc also more than likely had heard of the bould Saint Brendan’s voyage, and possibly thought, I could do that. So in 1170 he did just that, heading off with one of his brothers to seek out Vinland and see what all the fuss was about.

Sadly, it seems his brother’s ship sank, but Madoc continued on and it’s believed he ended up somewhere in Alabama, around the Gulf of Mexico, rather distant from where Vinland itself was said to be, but never mind, it’s a hell of a large continent. Unfortunately no written account of his voyage survives, leading our good friends the eternal skeptics to shake their heads and pour cold water (sorry) on the possibility of the Welsh reaching America, but Madoc’s exploits are rendered in story and song, and even in an account read to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1580. Which reads “The Lord Madoc, sonne to Owen Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, led a Colonie and inhabited in Terra Florida or thereabowts... .” Note: It’s pretty cool that they used the phrase terra florida (which I assume means land of flowers or something - oh right, I checked it: bay land. Well anyway) and that there was later a state named after it.

Oddly enough, even the Great Navigator himself seems to have confirmed Madoc’s being there first, as he has on his maps marked “these are Welsh waters.” Hard to see how that could have been covered up, but I guess it was. More evidence comes in letters held in the library at Chicago, one of which details a conversation between the founder of Tennessee, John Sevier, and a Cherokee chief, who, when asked who had built the fortifications that he had discovered on his land, replied that they “were a people called the Welsh and that they had crossed the Great Water and landed first near the mouth of the Alabama River near Mobile and had driven up to the heads of the waters until they arrived at Highwassee River.” These forts - or the ruins of them - lie not only in Tennessee but also Georgia and Alabama.

If he was there, Madoc did not remain to establish his colony, but left others behind to do that while he sailed back to the land of his fathers. It’s believed he then organised a second, larger expedition around 1190 and set sail, but that’s the last anyone knows of him. Whether he ever made it back to America, perished at sea or ended up somewhere else, that’s the last we hear of him. But it wasn’t the last the Spanish heard of him, to their chagrin. When they arrived in America they kept coming across evidence that the Welsh had been their first, including natives who could speak the language (how, being Spanish, they knew it was Welsh I don’t know, but maybe their links with Ireland due to a shared faith and a common purpose against Henry VIII in the name of their religion had familiarised them with Celtic languages?) and their government began a search - which they hoped, a hope which was realised, would turn up nothing - for evidence that the leek-eaters had been there first. England finally put up her hands and said “It’s all right lads. Fuck the Welsh, we hate them anyway. Look, you were there first, so let’s just put a pin in it and say it’s yours, all right?” That was in 1670, which is significant as it means that the “Welsh question”, if you like, had been going around annoying Their Most Catholic and Bloody Frustrated Majesties for nigh on two centuries before it was finally and quietly put to bed, presumably without bothering the Welsh.

Life though does not really recognise the power of treaties, and the Welsh presence continued to stubbornly persist, with multiple stories of men meeting Indians who spoke Welsh and who seemed to be descended from them. President Thomas Jefferson walked a typical political tightrope when he addressed the possibility: “I neither believe nor disbelieve where I have no evidence,” he said. Daniel Boone was more equivocal, claiming he had definitely seen “blue-eyed Indians” who he believed were Welsh. The most likely candidates for this tribe were the Mandans, who “were pale-faced, some grew beards, and the oldest ones had gray hair, which was unknown among Indians. Their homes were made of logs and covered with soil and were arranged in villages that were laid out in streets and squares. They depended largely on agriculture rather than hunting, unlike other Indian tribes. Vérendrye’s account was corroborated by subsequent travelers, many of whom took special note of the blue eyes, fair skins, and light-brown hair of the lovely Mandan maidens.”

Their close-harmony male singing might have been a giveaway too. Nah, just kidding. But if they had had any coal mines at that time… all right, I’ll stop now.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2022, 09:27 AM   #28 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,792
Default

Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Libyans, oh my!

Ancient Lebanese, the Phoenicians were one of the world’s first sea explorers (see my journal The Men Who Drew the Map of the World) and settled the port of Cádiz in the ninth century B.C. They were regarded as the greatest mariners of their time, and the purple cloth they made was highly prized in the ancient world, nowhere more so than wherever royalty sat. No king or queen worth their salt would be seen dead in anything other than purple, so there was a roaring trade in the cloth. So these sailors par excellence were often commissioned by various rulers to undertake voyages of trade for them, and the evidence suggests that one of these may have taken them to North America.

Halfway up a mountain in New Mexico is an inscription in the Phoenician language which, when translated by scholars in the tongue, turns out to be nothing less than the Ten Commandments from the Bible. The writing has been dated to approximately the ninth century BC again. Seems everyone who was anyone was heading to America in the ninth century BC. And not only North America. Here’s what it says on a stone found on a plantation in Brazil in 1872: “We are Sidonian Canaanites from the city of the Merchant King. We were cast up on this distant land, a land of mountains. We sacrificed a youth to the celestial gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of our mighty King Hiram and embarked from Eziongeber into the Red Sea. We voyaged with ten ships and were at sea together for two years around Africa. Then we were separated by the hand of Baal and were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, into ‘Island of Iron.’ Am I, the Admiral, a man who would flee? Nay! May the celestial gods and goddesses favor us well!”


(The Pharaoh Necho: he will not be impressed if you try to dip him in cheese.)

This is believed (by some) to refer to an expedition which set out from Egypt around 600 BC in an attempt to scout for the possibility of digging a canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, ordered by the Pharaoh Necho (no not Nacho) to circumnavigate Africa to see if it could be done. If one of the ships was blown off course and ended up in the land of football, then it’s estimated a date of around 531 BC would fit in. Needless to say, this, like almost every other instance of proof of the presence of civilisation in America before 1492 has been ignored and scorned by most of the scientific community. But the evidence mounts up, m’Lord: in Paraguay there’s a cave with a Phoenician inscription describing a sea voyage.

Coins are another way of proving habitation, and in Kansas, Connecticut, Arkansas and Alabama coins have been found which were clearly minted in the ancient empire of Carthage. The Carthaginians were also known to be great explorers (again, see my journal on exploration) with Hanno, known as “the Navigator”, one of their most famous icons. He himself is not known to have travelled to America - and in fact, there is no record of a Carthaginian expedition sent there - but as Shakira might possibly not say, coins don’t lie, and the ones that have been unearthed have all been dated to the third or fourth century BC. With characteristic stubbornness and a refusal to accept the truth of their own eyes, many scientists have grumbled and insisted that all of these coins must have been - get this - lost by collectors from the modern age.

Yeah. Right. That’s always happening to me. Out walking some farmer’s field in Arkansas with my valuable third century BC coins and don’t a few always slip through that hole in my pocket? Lord give me strength. These are probably the same people who demand to be taken seriously when they proclaim that Jesus was a white man.

Chile is the site of the discovery of writings by ancient Libyans, who claimed Santiago “for the King of Egypt, for his queen, and for their noble son, running a course of 4,000 miles, steep, mighty, mountainous, on high uplifted. August, day 5 regnal year 16.” Then there’s this, from just down the road in Ecuador: “The elephant that supports the Earth upon the waters and causes it to quake.” Um, yeah. Guess that long sea voyage had some unexpected side effects on the mariners. The Libyan alphabet and language seems to have found its way into that of Native Americans, particularly the Zuni Indians of southern California, and another inscription is found deep in the heart of Texas that says “A crew of Shishonq the King took shelter in this place of concealment.” A less stoned crew than the ones in Ecuador, it would seem.

Of course, in matters like this there will always be the hoaxers, the frauds and the outright scammers who, for reasons of their own, want to make it seem as if ancient people visited their state, city or town. I suppose it could help with the tourism anyway, or it could be an effort to make fools out of those who make these claims in other parts of the country. That’s why it’s always advisable to have a genuine clever clogs on board when investigating these finds, and one such, perhaps the cleverest, is also the most reviled by those who believe he is a charlatan, or at best, ignorant. (Note: when writing this article I got a little turned around, so the references to this guy appear before this introduction, making it a little superfluous, but you're always welcome to suck it. This is hard work. You try doing it!) Professor Barry Fell (no that’s his name, not a statement of an event) is one of the biggest names in the field which has become known as epigraphy, that is, reading and translating, dating and authenticating (or not) ancient inscriptions, be they on cave walls, carved in rock or anywhere else. He has suffered a lot at the hands of the scientific community, many of whom dismiss him as a fraud himself, but in recent times more esteemed figures have begun to take notice of him, and to slowly give credence and respectability to his theories.

He has mixed feelings about artifacts uncovered at a burial site in Davenport, Idaho, which was believed to be a hoax - with someone actually coming forward to take the blame - but which he has reservations (sorry) about. Much of this hinges on the fact that the supposed hoaxer was only nine years old at the time, and even a prodigy would have difficulty faking ancient languages and symbols, to say nothing of how he would have sealed the tablet in the mound and managed to put it all back together without its looking as if it had been disturbed. As well as this, Professor Fell notes there are three different languages on the tablet, and though one of them - Egyptian hieroglyphs - makes no sense, the other two do. However he’s prepared to admit when he gets it wrong, which for me makes him the more believable.

One such occasion took place in Nevada, where a rock he had come to examine looked, to him, as if it had a map of America carved on it. After careful examination though he realised this was just a crack in the natural material of the rock, and the words he had thought referred to the Pacific Ocean were just some ancient prayer, local in origin. This wasn’t actually a hoax or a fraud, just an good illustration of how sometimes simple things could be taken to have greater meaning than they have, and that not every rock with squiggly lines on it is a discovery or proof of the existence of ancient Americans.

And yet, despite these few false trails, the evidence that feet other than those of Native Americans trod the soil of that land goes on, from Quebec and New Hampshire to New York and Pennsylvania, and indeed Fell believes that many of the visitors became permanent residents of America, that the likes of the Libyans and the Iberian Celts settled down, ran schools and farmed, becoming quite possibly the second true Americans after the Indians. There is some evidence of this, but like virtually every other hypothesis he suggest and every theory he advances, it has been met with scorn, derision and alternative explanations. And maybe they’re right; who is to say? After all, we’re dealing here with people who may (or may not) have been here long before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s a long time back, and the passage of the ages tends to erase any markers left by these people, if they were here.

Fell’s theories do get a little shall we say, out there, though, when he suggests that those Iberian Celts actually set up banks in America (I bet the First Bank of America would have something to say about that!), conclusions he bases on the discovery of, well, here: I’ll let our old mucker Patrick Huyghe explain it in Fell’s words, as I’m tired of typing: “ He believes the great number of circular designs adorning a series of rock faces at the Castle Garden site near Moneta, Wyoming, represents one such “bank.” The common assumption is that these pictographs and petroglyphs are Indian shield designs. But Fell eventually recognized the petroglyphs as simplified renderings of Roman, Celtic, and Italian bronze coins that were in circulation beginning about 20 b.c. “These pictorial presentations of current coin in ancient America,” Fell explains, “were evidently intended to familiarize the fur trappers and others doing business with the Iberian banks as to the relative values of coins in terms of one another and in terms of skins.

One inscription at the site turned out to be the bank’s shingle. To the left of a central design are Iberic letters spelling the old Gaelic word for “money changer.” On the right is an old Gaelic word that Fell translates as “No usury.” The central illustration uses Greek letters to form a rebus, or design, of an upturned moneybag dropping its coins onto a plate. And the word that these letters spell means “the first to come here.” If you put it all together, says Fell, what you are left with is something on the order of the First National Bank of Iberia in Wyoming.”

I have to say, that sounds more than a little difficult to believe, and I’m sure it was manna from Heaven to his detractors, who would have - possibly metaphorically, possibly literally - pointed and jeered at such notions. I’m kind of tempted to do so myself, but what do I know? You do get the idea though that Professor Fell is seen, among the archaeological community, as a sort of Erich Von Daniken (remember Chariots of the Gods?) or that guy who’s always appearing on memes and attributing everything to aliens, the most famous (and funny) being “I don’t know therefore aliens.” He gets vilified, with one eminent scientist lambasting his first book as “rubbish” in the New York Times (I say! Steady on there, old boy!) and others calling him the “Typhoid Mary of popular prehistory.” Ouch.

Maybe they’re just jealous that he gets it and they don’t. Maybe they’re unwilling to admit they might have missed what he discovered. Or maybe they just see him for the fraud they believe he is. I have no idea whether he’s genuine or not, but there certainly is a lot of hostility directed at him. Huyghe however does note that most if not all of this vitriol comes from within Fell's own country, and that in Europe, particularly in Spain, Wales and Ireland, his theories have been supported and applauded. Well now in fairness, they would do wouldn’t they? After all, Fell is making the case for the presence of their people in America long before Columbus, so they’re going to be more likely to support that, as they have a vested interest.

The converse of that though is that the ridicule piled upon Fell by American archaeologists may have its own agenda, may be rooted in the politics and even racism of ensuring that the narrative that has been in place for over five hundred years now remains the only side of the story told, particularly in American schools. The fact that these people refuse to listen to him, laugh at him and do their best to discredit or at best ignore his findings, points to a desire to kowtow to the establishment, ensure Columbus continues to be feted as the discoverer of America, and that a white man retains his historical - if inaccurate, possibly erroneous - position in American history.

Nevertheless, you can only ignore reality for so long, and even deeply-opposed Americans are beginning now to see things Fell’s way, with one Canadian, respected anthropologist David Kelley, championing his cause.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2022 Advameg, Inc.