6 Discoveries that Show the Pre-Columbian Americas Traded Across the Oceans
Ancient civilizations look ever-more advanced with each passing year as new discoveries continue to showcase just how sophisticated they truly were.
Yet, the idea that our ancestors were able to make extended sea journeys still seems far-fetched for some people. Despite the fact that, thousands of years ago, the Phoenicians could live for months on their boats and navigate flawlessly with the stars. Indeed, any of the great ancient cultures had access to hundreds of large, sophisticated ships and plentiful manpower, along with gifted navigators. So why not explore the unknown areas on the map?
Elephants in the Americas
Sketch of elephants depicted in reliefs in Palenque ruins, Mexico. Image Credit: W. B. Scott (Author provided)
Despite being non-native to the Americas, elephants were still depicted by the ancient inhabitants of North and South America using a variety of mediums.
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Drawing of elephant depicted on a Montezuma jar. Image Credit: Neil Harris. (Author provided)
Examples include the Montezuma Valley Jar, which was unearthed in 1885 at a Native American site, and the Elephant Slabs discovered in 1910 amongst Native American ruins in Flora Vista, New Mexico.
The Vai script of the ancient Mali empire can be found on the Elephant Slabs. Records from the ancient Mali empire also happen to detail multiple expeditions across the western ocean at different periods in their history. When exploring New Mexico in 1528, the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca detailed distinct groups of black-skinned natives and red-skinned natives. One of these groups was named the Mendica. Curiously enough, the Mandinkas founded the Mali empire.
Elephant Slab 2 – Image Credit: Neil Harris. (Author provided)
It should be no stretch to believe that the Mali empire interacted with the Americas. At its height, it was one of the most powerful and sophisticated empires in the world. Records from the 1300’s regarding mariners trading far to the west detail one expedition as having 200 ships, and a later expedition, led personally by the emperor at the time, Mansa Abubakari, having over a thousand. As well, the Mali empire of this period is known to have been powerful enough to produce such giant forces. But, even more importantly, the South Equatorial Current would have carried the Mali empire’s ships right to the Americas.
It would seem that the Mali empire, and/or another of the great African empires, brought elephants with them during their expeditions to the Americas in the ancient past. The elephant was a primary beast of burden for the Mali empire, and it’s known that they carried elephants on their ships to different parts of the world, so it seems logical that some would have joined their trips across the Atlantic. Though, even if the elephants themselves didn’t make the journey, the Mali seafarers would certainly remember the iconic creatures.
Olmec pottery (left) – Credit: Zecharia Sitchin. Mayan sculpture (right) – Credit: Robin Heyworth (Author provided)
Yalloch, Guatemala – Late Classic 600-900 AD – Credit: Graeme Kearsley (Author provided)
Interestingly, native tribes throughout North America have myths describing creatures almost identical to elephants; giant beasts that slept while standing up or leaning against a tree and used “an arm like ours” to eat from the boughs of trees.
Other examples of elephants can be found in Mayan writing and sculptures, Olmec pottery, and metal plates from as far south as Ecuador.
Ecuador plate (left) – Credit: Crespi Collection. Copan, Honduras 756 AD – Credit: Shao (right) (Author provided)
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Mayan glyphs (left) – Credit: William Gates. Mayan depiction (right) – Credit: Alfred Maudslay. (Author provided)
Drugs of the Americas in Egyptian Mummies
Mummy of 19th dynasty King Rameses II. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
While examining the mummified remains of Lady Henut Taui, a member of the Egyptian ruling class, Dr. Svetla Balabanova came across traces of both coca and tobacco. This quickly became a very perplexing find, as neither product was grown outside of the Americas until after Columbus arrived.
The discovery ignited a firestorm in the academic community, and it was assumed that there must have been contamination or the mummy itself wasn’t authentic. But after another, thorough analysis, the find was found to be authentic.
The ability to reach and trade with the Americas wouldn’t have been out of the question for the Egyptians. They’re known to have developed massive ships capable of carrying over 250 men along with animals, food, and trading goods. They also worked closely with the Phoenicians; who are known as the greatest seafarers of the ancient world.
Architecture of the Ancient Americas
The cliff dwellings of the American southwest share a striking similarity with those that can be found in west Africa.
The Mali empire, or groups within their realm, are responsible for the creation of the cliff dwellings that can be found in west Africa, and the Anasazi are known to have created many of the cliff dwellings found in the American southwest. However, with just the pictures alone, it’s unlikely someone could tell which ruins belonged where. The style of construction is essentially identical, as is the locations chosen and the materials used. Much of the American ruins—Palatki, for instance—are also believed to have been founded during the period of the Mali empire where records indicate trips across the Atlantic were taking place.
Additionally, Malian script and petroglyphs have not only been found throughout the surrounding region but also at the sites of these cliff dwellings. [Look to the work of Anthropologist and Linguist Dr. Clyde Winters for a thorough survey and analysis of west African script and petroglyphs in the American southwest].
The Celtic Ogham Inscriptions
Located around the four corners region of America are a number of sites which appear to show the presence of European travelers in the ancient past. Of these, what can be found at Crack Canyon in Colorado stands out.
Ogham in Ireland – Credit: MegalithicMonumentsOfIreland (Author provided)
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Ogham in Colorado – Credit: Brett Ackerman. (Author provided)
Carved up on the wall inside the narrow canyon is a line of Ogham script; the oldest written language in Ireland. The appearance of Ogham script is inconspicuous, which can often lead to it being overlooked as simple scratches, however, researcher Bill McGlone was fortunate enough to recognize its inscription while searching the local area. After the discovery, the site was sealed off with a tall iron gate by the park’s service to prevent damage.
The inscription highlighted –
Credit: ViewZone. (Author provided)
The inscription translates to: “[We are the] People of the Sun” and “On the day of Bel, the sun will strike here”.
As it happens, the day of Bel is the day of the summer equinox. And when the site is observed on the summer equinox, the inscription is perfectly illuminated; not on the days before and not on the days after.
It’s an inscription reminiscent, in content and style, of a waypost that would have been utilized by the ancient Druids. If someone were to find such a marking, they’d know who left it and have a means to determine the time of the year.
Interesting to note, the Druids are well known for their obsession with monitoring time and the movements of celestial bodies. In the stories of them that remain, they’re said to have been prolific world travelers.
It’s worth mentioning that Bill McGlone wasn’t the first to recognize these markings. In 1975, historian Dr. Donald G. Rickey—Chief Historian for the Bureau of Land Managementut, at the time—was investigating the site of a 19th century battle when he happened across a series of markings in a stone wall. He initially termed them, “spear-sharpening marks”. However, as luck would have it, he traveled to Scotland a few weeks later where he happened to be taken to a museum showcasing examples of Ogham script. He instantly was reminded of the markings he’d seen in Colorado.
Upon returning, he brought researchers out to investigate the site. Their findings led Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University to come out and examine the inscriptions, and he agreed that they appeared to be examples of authentic Ogham script. They then raised their discovery to the community at large, but it was quickly disregarded as being impossible under the logic that no Europeans had visited the Americas before Columbus.
Highlighted Ogham found on the Isle of Man – Credit: ViewTeam (Author provided)
Since that time, hundreds of other Ogham inscriptions have been discovered in the surrounding region. Photographs of 180 such inscriptions can be found in the 1994 book The Colorado Ogham album by Donald L Cyr.
The Fuente Magna Bowl
Found in 1958 near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, the Fuente Magna Bowl quickly earned the nickname “The Rosetta Stone of the Americas” because of the two forms of script written along the inside: a proto-Sumerian ancient alphabet and the language of the Chavin; which may be the oldest civilization to have inhabited the region.
Proto-Sumerian script on the Fuenta Magna Bowl. Credit: Bernardo Biados’s research team, (Author provided)
Numerous experts have gone out of their way to examine the bowl, though they’ve all found themselves stumped as both the dating and inscriptions appear authentic, despite the improbable nature of the artifact. The unique style of the proto-Sumerian inscription is also what would be expected from a distinct proto-Sumerian group.
Typical Chavin symbols on the Fuenta Magna Bowl Credit: Bernardo Biados’s research team. (Author provided)
Curiously, other Sumerian artifacts have been found in South America, though none seem to be quite as enigmatic as the Fuente Magna Bowl.
Hieroglyphics of the Mi’kmaq
Written languages are almost nonexistent in Native American cultures to the extent that only a single written language is known to have existed in all of America and Canada. That single language belongs to the Mi’kmaq—a culture that lived along the Atlantic Coast—and it happens to share a bizarre number of similarities with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
A comparison of Egyptian and Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs. Credit: Barry Fell. (Author provided)
In the early 18th century, a French missionary by the name of Pierre Maillard meticulously documented the hieroglyphs of the Mi’kmaq culture during his time in the area. However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that professor Barry Fell meticulously poured over the missionary’s work and published a comprehensive side-by-side of the Mi’kmaq writing with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. He’d found an astonishing number of similarities between the two forms, which led him to suggest that the Egyptians must have reached the Atlantic Coast at some point in the past: as that seemed more reasonable than simply dismissing it all as a staggering coincidence.
Viewing the research, academics agreed that the similarities were too great for it all to simply be a coincidence. However, with isolationism still in full swing, the idea of Egyptians reaching America was written off as nonsensical. Instead, an alternative explanation was devised: the French missionary must have made it all up. This new theory, being the only explanation that fits conventional history, posits that Maillard devised the entire system of writing in order for the Mi’kmaq to be able to record the teachings of Christianity.
Why he would use hieroglyphics—the writing of a pagan culture—instead of his own native writing is baffling. Yet the theory becomes even more absurd when one remembers that hieroglyphics weren’t translated until the next century. So how did he manage to match so many of the symbols and concepts?
Further examples of similar Egyptian and Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs. Credit: Barry Fell. (Author provided)
Top image: San Lorenzo Colossal Head 1, Olmec culture, Museo de Antropología de Xalapa, Mexico. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The article ‘Restoration | 6 Discoveries that Show the Pre-Columbian Americas Traded Across the Oceans’ was originally published on minethehive and has been republished with permission.
L.H. Clegg, “The Black origin of American civilization”, A Current Bibliography on African Affairs, No.1 (1976)
P.S. Martin, G.I. Quimby and D. Collier, Indians Before Columbus, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970)
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Joe, Rita; Choyce, Lesley (2005). The Míkmaq Anthology. Nimbus Publishing
Van Sertima, Ivan (1976). They Came Before Columbus. Random House
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