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Representational image of African travelers.

East African Invasions in South America: Tracing Cultural Clues and Artifacts Left by Early Travelers

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Archaeologists have found many artifacts that suggest Blacks lived in Pre-Columbian America in locations including Tiahuanaco and Valdivia. Epigraphers and archaeologists have even found evidence that Axumites, Meroites, and Puntites may have voyaged to South America before Columbus.

There is also ample evidence that Sumerians were in South America, which they called Kuga-Ki. It was here that the Sumerians mined tin and other minerals. East Africans probably learned about Ecuador and Peru from the Sumerians. During the Arwe and Axumite empires, Semitic or Puntite speaking Ethiopians traveled to South America.

Potosi, the first image in Europe. Pedro Cieza de León, 1553.

Potosi, the first image in Europe. Pedro Cieza de León, 1553. (Public Domain) Potosi is a famous mining town in Bolivia.

Evidence for Early Ethiopans in the Andean Region

Between 13,000 BC and 600 AD, Blacks from East Africa and Asia began settling in South America. Many African skulls have been found in Ecuador, in sections of Chile in Valdivia, and among the Ponuencho of Peru. These countries would have also been part of the Sumerian Kuga-Ki.

Ecuador has provided substantial archaeological evidence for the presence of Africoids in South America. One of the most significant finds was a magnificent stone head of a man wearing a circular earring on his right ear. This head is similar to a carving of Akhenaton. Dr. von Wuthenau identified this figure as representing the "negroid element" in preclassical Ecuador.

Alexander Von Wuthenau’s Ethiopian Type. (Author provided)

Alexander Von Wuthenau’s Ethiopian Type. (Author provided) 

According to Lanning, “there was a possible movement of negritos from Ecuador into the Piura Valley, north of Chicama and Viru.” He believes there is a relationship between this culture and the Valdivia site which was active from 1800 BC to 100 AD. Dr. Dixon said Valdivia was inhabited by Africoid people.

  Valdivia (Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio del Ecuador/CC BY 4.0), Chorrera (Public Domain), and Carchi (Lidia Poaquiza) representations of individuals who may have been Africans in ancient Ecuador.

Valdivia (Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio del Ecuador/CC BY 4.0), Chorrera (Public Domain), and Carchi (Lidia Poaquiza) representations of individuals who may have been Africans in ancient Ecuador.

In Peru, large double decked boats are depicted on ceramic pots which are almost identical to the papyrus boats used in the Proto-Sahara and Punt. Water jars and other cargo are painted on the lower deck of the boats along with rows of people. An earthly representation of the Sun god Ra stood on the upper deck, the same as the Sun god of Meroe and Egypt, surrounded by bird men who handle the ropes and propel the ship through the water. The interesting thing about these pictures is that they are almost exact replicas of scenes depicted in Egyptian pyramids.

Depiction of a Moche reed boat.

Depiction of a Moche reed boat. (Bibliodyssey)

There are other similarities between Ethiopia and Peru. Ethiopians used battle clubs in war and their doctors became skilled in trepanning - cranial surgery without killing the patient. This operation was unknown to Europeans until after Columbus discovered America, yet it was known to the Peruvians. Both groups also used false heads on mummies.

Peruvians and Ethiopians also used horizontal looms staked out on the ground along with the vertical-frame loom with two warp beams (Rowe, 1966). Von Hagen noted that “A form of backstring loom was used in Egypt, a horizontal loom appears in predynastic Egypt, and the one pictured on the tomb Khnemholep (at Beni Hasan) circa 1900 BC, is identical with those of the Andean and coastal Peruvians.”

An indigenous woman using a traditional loom. (Author provided)

An indigenous woman using a traditional loom. (Author provided)

Ethiopian explorers probably reached Peru and Ecuador by accident. Chinese records make it clear that Axumites made many long voyages across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These sailors traveled mid-ocean, not near the shore. A group of Ethiopian merchants probably on a voyage to China, Sri Lanka, or Malayasia; or on a military campaign to put down a rebellion in one of their Indian Ocean colonies, may have been captured by the Equatorial Counter Current in their papyrus boats and carried to Peru-Ecuador. Since they were usually prepared for voyages up to five years long, these hypothetical voyagers would have possessed the supplies necessary to make the long trip.

Early Depictions of East Africans in South America

The Axumites probably landed in sparsely populated areas in Peru- Ecuador. They would have met little resistance from the local Amerindian groups (who saw them as giants.) The Axumites’ experience building underground dwellings made it possible for them to construct safe habitation complexes, and later step pyramids, to bury their elite. As in Meroe, Peruvian pyramids were made of bricks of sun dried clay mixed with straw - using the same formula as Egyptians and Ethiopians. Peruvian adobe was made in a rectangular mold, just like in Ethiopia.

Detail of adobe relief motif at the Chan Chan complex built by the Chimor culture near modern Trujillo, Peru

Detail of adobe relief motif at the Chan Chan complex built by the Chimor culture near modern Trujillo, Peru. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Quichua people speak a language which is analogous to languages spoken in the Pacific and India. The Quichua Amerindians have an oral tradition which probably records the entrance of the Axumites in ships made of reeds or "rushes" that landed on the Pacific coast at Santa Elena, close to Puerto Viejo. An oral tradition recorded by Don Cieza de Leon, a Spainish soldier-priest in 1545 AD says:

“These giants from the sea were so great in stature that from the knee down, they were as tall as a tall man. It was amazing to see how the hair hung from their great heads to their shoulders. Yet were they beardless. They ate [probably meant they fight] more than fifty ordinary men. There eyes were big as plates [como pequenos platos]. Their arms and legs were proportionately huge. Some were clad in skins of animals; others quite naked. No women came with them. Going inland they ravaged the country and finding no water, these builders in great stone set to and sank an immensely deep well in the living rock.... and today [in AD 1545] the water of this ancient well is so clear and cold and wholesome that it is a pleasure to drink it. This well made by the giants was lined with masonry, from top to bottom, and so well are these wells made that they will last for ages.”

Wilkins believes that these giants helped build Tiahuanaco. Commenting on the inhabitants of this ancient South American city he noted:

“They were a reddish-skinned race, though among them, as remarkable statuary, dug up from ruins shows, were also black men, with prognathic features. One splendid piece of terra cotta depicts in beautiful colors a high priest of the sun, with remarkably Egyptian eyes and having on his fine, large forehead a mitre and the sign of evolution, called by Bolivian archaeologists, el simbolo escalonado (the stairway sign).”


Tiahuanaco. (Daniel Maciel/CC BY 2.0)

These stories make it clear that the colonist-conquerors were taller than Amerinidians. They also detail how the newcomers built monuments out of solid rock. This architectural ability was a trademark of the Axumites. On the Mochica pottery these “giants” are depicted with black faces. At San Agustin, near the Colombian border, statues portray them with African features.

Mochica sculptures show people of marked racial variations: Some appear to be Africans, while others are American Indians. A well-known characteristic of the Andean people is the absence of heavy beards. Yet many Mochica sculptures show images of old men with long beards.

It is also interesting to note the Moche warriors and elite wore conical helmets like those of Meroitic elites - with a T-shaped ornament at the apex. Blacks are usually depicted wearing ornaments on their ears, lips, and nose as well.

Mochica ceramics that may depict Africans.

Mochica ceramics that may depict Africans. (Public Domain), (Public Domain) & (Public Domain)

East Africans and the Huari Culture

Some of the Ethiopians that landed in Peru made their way inland. By 500 or 600 AD, other Axumites settled at the Marcahuasi plateau, East of Lima in the Western Cordilleras and began the Huari culture. The Huari were mainly African males. They expanded throughout southern Peru and established outposts and invented a well-organized administrative system.

At the Marcahuasi plateau we find monumental sculptures on the cliffs. A Huari monument hewed out of solid rock has sculptured heads of Africans, an ibex, a lion, elephants, frogs, camels and the goddess Tauerat, exactly like monuments discovered in Ethiopia at Angiarro (Wollo).

Large rock with the form of a human face, possibly a natural formation, Marcahuasi

Large rock with the form of a human face, possibly a natural formation, Marcahuasi (CC BY SA 3.0)

It is interesting to note that the tribes found in the vicinity of Huari monuments are called Huanca or Huari. This is almost the same sound as Harari, a name for one of the Semitic speaking tribes of Ethiopia. The forefathers of the Huari are only known from legend as a bearded people. Burland believes that the large ceremonial center of Tiahuanaco may have been the religious center of the Huari empire. Statues of Africans have been found in abundance at this site.

Piquillacta - Huari archaeological site.

Piquillacta - Huari archaeological site. (AgainErick/CC BY SA 3.0)

Epigraphic Evidence of Axumites in South America

There is also epigraphic evidence that supports the influence of Semitic speaking Ethiopians in South America – an inscription at the town of Palpa, some 20 kms (12.43 miles) north east of Nazca, Peru. It is an ancient pattern of lines that can be read using the Ge’ez language of Ethiopia.

Palpa Mountain inscription. (Author Provided)

Palpa Mountain inscription. (Author Provided)

This inscription says:

“Come down (into the earth) and spread this...Strain and pacify the water (in the area) Come and spread (within this region). Grace. Go out (among the land) and become strong”.

The Nascodex organization refined my decipherment of this inscription as follows:

“Come, carve (dig) down into the earth, Pacify, control and increase the waters, Make them flow forth into the region, Gaining grace and favour, Go out among the people, become strong Leaders”.

There is also epigraphic evidence for Axumites in Cuenca, Ecuador. Father Carlo Crespi collected numerous inscribed artifacts that local people claimed came from underground hiding places. Among these artifacts are 1) a gold sheet with a picture of a pyramid and Ethiopian letters at the foot of the pyramid; 2) a stone tablet with Ethiopian writing placed below three animals; and another with a stone pyramid with an elephant and sun symbol at the top of the pyramid and Ethiopian characters placed within the pyramid. Elephants and lions are rarely seen in Egyptian art, but they are common in Meroitic and Axumite art. These tablets refer to various aspects of the life of a farmer-soldier (and traveler).

A gold sheet with a picture of a pyramid and Ethiopian letters at the foot of the pyramid. (Author provided)

A gold sheet with a picture of a pyramid and Ethiopian letters at the foot of the pyramid. (Author provided)

The tablet (below) with the sun figure, which probably represents Zat-Baden or the Ethiopian sun-god, and an elephant, reference three things: a harp, beer/mead, and bread. These are associated with a man who is about to make a journey or go to work in the field in Tigrai.

The inscription on the stone tablet with a bull, an elephant, and an ibex probably refers to the warrior creed which may have existed among the Moche or Huari that once ruled this area. It uses pictograms to denote the role of the soldier.

The stone tablet with the sun figure, a pyramid, and an elephant.

The stone tablet with the sun figure, a pyramid, and an elephant. (Solomons Blondes)

Although people came to early South America from East Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, Axumites probably influenced the elaborate stone monuments in Peru and Ecuador and introduced certain types of looms, writing, and medical techniques. East Africans also probably played an important role in the rise of the Moche empire.

Top image: Representational image of African travelers. Source:

By Clyde Winters


D. Diringer, The Alphabet. Volume 2, (Meroitic Inscription, p.434) New York, 1948
Jean Doresse, Ethiopia. 1967.
Larco Hoyle. Los Mochicas, 1939.
Samuel Noah Kramer, The Sumerians (pp.276-285) University of Chicago Press, 1963.

E.P. Lanning, (1970). Pleistocene man in South America. World Archaeology 2, 90–111.
E. P. Lanning, T.C. Patterson, (1967). Early Man in South America.  Scientific American 217, No. 5 44–50.
Carlos Marquez, in Estadios Arqueologias y Ethograficas.
Harold T. Williams, Mysteries of Ancient South America.
Clyde Winters, African Empires in Ancient America. Createspace, 2013.
Clyde Winters, Ancient Scripts in South America. Create Space, 2015.
Edward Ullendorf, The Ethiopians. 1973.



Pete Wagner's picture

If the institution would get serious and honest with the genetic studies of the human bone fragments, we’d know a lot more about the races and ethnicities involved (to include hair and eye color), and the progression/timelines with respect to all the genetic mixing that certainly happened as a result of the migrations/invasions.

Nobody gets paid to tell the truth.

Pre-Columbus migrations to the Americas across both the Atlantic and Pacific are a no-brainer.

  1.  The elephant motif might originate with Mongols.  When they conquered China they got access to the Chinese navy and used it to invade Japan.  They had elephants on board because they were fascinated with elephants after a failed attempt to defeat a South Asian army mounted on elephants.  History and legends indicate that Mongols were blown off course and wound up at the west coast of South America and became part of tribal legends shortly before Columbus.  Spanish priests recorded the legends but then disappeared them.
  2. Scandinavian explorer Thor Heyerdahl made successful trips to South America in replicas of two ancient boats.  One was a round reed boat used by ancient Egyptians.  The other is South Pacific islander and described in the book Kon Tiki.  It’s reasonable to think that Africans departed from both coats of Africa and island hopped to the Americas.

Thank you for this marvelous article. Some people will never understand but that is not your mission.


Never say never! Much study - need to continue - Ocean and wind currents make trip possible!

Boats could have been destroyed over the many years. Do sculls have ears?

In an environment of learning keep an open mind.


Clyde Winters's picture

Clyde Winters

Dr. Clyde Winters is an Educator , Anthropologist and Linguist. He has taught Education and Linguistics at Saint Xavier University -Chicago. Dr. Winters is the author of numerous articles on anthropology, archeogenetics and linguistics. His articles have appeared in the Journal... Read More

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