Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact
Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact is interaction between indigenous peoples of the Americas who settled the Americas before 10,000 BC, and peoples of other continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania), which occurred before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492. For practical purposes, travel across the Bering Straits, or the former land bridge in the same region are excluded.
Many further forms of pre-Columbian contact have been proposed, based on historical accounts, archaeological finds, and cultural comparisons. However, most claims of such contact are controversial and debated, due in part to much ambiguous or circumstantial evidence cited by proponents. The scientific responses to pre-Columbian contact claims range from serious consideration in peer-reviewed publications to dismissal as fringe science or pseudoarcheology.
- 1 Confirmed Norse trans-oceanic contact
- 2 Possible Polynesian trans-oceanic contact
- 3 Other theories
- 3.1 Ecuador-East Asia contact
- 3.2 Peruvian mummies
- 3.3 Egyptian coca and tobacco
- 3.4 Medieval
- 3.5 Semitic
- 3.6 Irish and Welsh legend
- 3.7 Romans
- 3.8 Africans
- 3.9 Chinese
- 3.10 Japanese
- 3.11 Mormon archaeology
- 4 Trans-oceanic travel from the New World
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Confirmed Norse trans-oceanic contact
Norse, or Viking journeys to North America are supported by both historical and archaeological evidence. A Norse colony in Greenland was established in the late 10th century, and lasted until the mid 15th century, with court and parliament assemblies (þing) taking place at Brattahlíð and a bishop located at Garðar. From Greenland to Canada the distance is only 26 kilometres at the narrowest possible crossing, over the Nares Strait to Ellesmere Island. The Vinland sagas and other documents from the pre-Columbian era detail several past expeditions from Greenland to Helluland to the west, Markland and Vinland, the latter being a location farther south with a warmer climate. According to the sagas, explorers included Bjarni Herjólfsson, Leif Ericson, Thorvald Eiriksson, Thorstein Eiriksson, Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, and Þorfinnr "Karlsefni" Þórðarson who travelled with a larger company of settlers that included Freydís Eiríksdóttir and Tyrker. Snorri Thorfinnsson is reported to have been the first "European" to have been born in America. In written sources Adam of Bremen was the first to mention Vinland in 1070, referencing a conversation with Sweyn II of Denmark.
In 1961, archaeologists Helge and Anne Ingstad uncovered the remains of a Norse settlement at the L'Anse aux Meadows archaeological site on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, Canada. A connection is frequently drawn between L'Anse aux Meadows and the Vinland sagas. It is possible that Vinland may have been Newfoundland. Finds on Baffin Island suggest a Norse presence there after L'Anse aux Meadows was abandoned, although it has also been suggested that these might be indigenous Dorset culture artifacts.
Few sources describing contact between Native Americans and Norse settlers exist. Contact between the Thule people, ancestors of the modern Inuit, and Norse between the 12th or 13th centuries is known. The Norse Greenlanders called these incoming settlers "skrælingar". Conflict between the Greenlanders and the "skrælings" is recorded in the Icelandic Annals. The Vinland sagas, recorded hundreds of years later, describe trade and conflict with Native peoples, who were also termed skrælings, but may have been an entirely different people. Archaeological evidence for contact in Greenland is limited, but seems to indicate that the Norse did not substantially affect indigenous adaptations, technologies, or cultures.
Possible Polynesian trans-oceanic contact
Evidence from sweet potato
Between 300 and 1200 AD, Polynesians in canoes spread throughout the Polynesian Triangle going as far as Easter Island, New Zealand and Hawaii, and perhaps on to the Americas. The sweet potato, which is native to the Americas, was widespread in Polynesia when Europeans first reached the Pacific. Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia c. 700 AD and spread across Polynesia from there. It has been suggested that it was brought by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, or that South Americans brought it to the Pacific. It is unlikely that the plant could successfully float across the ocean by natural means. Phylogenetic analysis supports the hypothesis of at least two separate introductions of sweet potatoes from South America into Polynesia, including one before and one after European contact.
Apparent linguistic support
Dutch linguists and specialists in Amerindian languages Willem Adelaar and Pieter Muysken have suggested that two lexical items may be shared by Polynesian languages and language of South America. One is the name of the sweet potato, which was domesticated in the New World. Proto-Polynesian *kumala (compare Easter Island kumara, Hawaiian ʻuala, Māori kumāra; apparent cognates outside Eastern Polynesian may be borrowed from Eastern Polynesian languages, calling Proto-Polynesian status and age into question) may be connected with Quechua and Aymara k’umar ~ k’umara. A possible second is the word for 'stone axe', Easter Island toki, Mapuche toki, and further afield, Yurumangui totoki 'axe'. According to Adelaar and Muysken the similarity in the word for sweet potato, "constitutes near proof of incidental contact between inhabitants of the Andean region and the South Pacific", though according to Adelaar and Muysken the word for axe is not as convincing. The authors argue that the presence of the word for sweet potato suggests sporadic contact between Polynesia and South America, but no migrations. According to POLLEX-Online, Proto-Polynesian *toki "adze, axe" has an accepted Proto-Austronesian etymology, which implies that the similarities are either accidental, or at most, in some cases, the word was borrowed from Polynesian into South American languages.
Geneticist Erik Thorsby and colleagues have published two studies in the peer-reviewed journal Tissue Antigens that evidence an Amerindian genetic contribution to the Easter Island population, determining that it was probably introduced prior to European discovery of the island.
Proposed sites of contact and their evidence
In recent years evidence has emerged suggesting pre-Columbian contact between the Mapuche people (Araucanians) of south-central Chile and Polynesians. Chicken bones found at the site El Arenal in the Arauco Peninsula, an area inhabited by Mapuche, support a pre-Columbian introduction of chicken to South America. The bones found in Chile were radiocarbon-dated to between 1304 and 1424, before the arrival of the Spanish. Chicken DNA sequences taken were matched to those of chickens in American Samoa and Tonga, and dissimilar to European chicken. However, a later report in the same journal looking at the same mtDNA concluded that the Chilean chicken specimen clusters with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America.
Furthermore, in December 2007, several human skulls with Polynesian features, such as a pentagonal shape when viewed from behind, were found lying on a shelf in a museum in Concepción. These skulls turned out to be originating from Mocha Island, an island just off the coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean, nowadays inhabited by Mapuche. Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith of the University of Otago and José Miguel Ramírez Aliaga of the University of Valparaíso hope to win agreement soon with the locals of Mocha Island to begin an excavation search for Polynesian remains on the island.
Ecuador-East Asia contact
According to a 2013 genetic study there was contact between Ecuador and East Asia. The study suggests that the contact could have been trans-oceanic or a late-stage coastal migration that did not leave genetic imprints in North America. This contact could explain the alleged similarity between the pottery of the Valdivia culture of Ecuador and the Jōmon culture of Northeast Asia.
A team of academics headed by the University of York's Mummy Research Group and BioArch, while examining a Peruvian mummy at the Bolton Museum, found it had been embalmed using a tree resin. Before this it was thought that Peruvian mummies were naturally preserved. The resin, found to be that of an Araucaria conifer related to the 'monkey puzzle tree', was from a variety found only in Oceania and probably New Guinea. "Radiocarbon dating of both the resin and body by the University of Oxford's radiocarbon laboratory confirmed they were essentially contemporary, and date to around CE1200."
Egyptian coca and tobacco
Traces of coca and nicotine found in some Egyptian mummies have led some to speculate that Ancient Egyptians may have traveled to the New World. The initial discovery was made by a German toxicologist, Svetlana Balabanova, after examining the mummy of a female priestess called Henut Taui. Follow-up tests of the hair shaft, performed to rule out contamination, gave the same results. The significance of these finds lies in the fact that both coca and tobacco plants are indigenous to the Americas and were thought not to have existed in Africa until sometime after the voyages of Columbus. Subsequent examination of numerous Sudanese mummies undertaken by Balabanova mirrored what was found in the mummy of Henut Taui. Balabanova suggested that the tobacco may be accounted for since it may have also been known in China and Europe, as indicated by analysis run on human remains from those respective regions. Balabanova proposed that such plants native to the general area may have developed independently, but have since gone extinct. Other explanations include fraud, though curator Alfred Grimm of the Egyptian Museum in Munich disputes this. Skeptical of Balabanova's findings, Rosalie David, Keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum, had similar tests performed on samples taken from the Manchester mummy collection and reported that two of the tissue samples and one hair sample did test positive for nicotine. Sources of nicotine other than tobacco and sources of cocaine in the Old World are discussed by the British biologist Duncan Edlin.
Mainstream scholars remain skeptical, and do not see this as proof of ancient contact between Africa and the Americas, especially as there may be possible Old World sources. Two attempts to replicate Balbanova's finds of cocaine failed, suggesting "that either Balabanova and her associates are misinterpreting their results or that the samples of mummies tested by them have been mysteriously exposed to cocaine."
A re-examination in the 1970s of the mummy of Ramesses II revealed the presence of fragments of tobacco leaves in its abdomen. This became a popular topic in fringe literature and the media and was seen as proof of contact between Ancient Egypt and the New World. The investigator, Maurice Bucaille, noted that when the mummy was unwrapped in 1886 the abdomen was left open and that "it was no longer possible to attach any importance to the presence inside the abdominal cavity of whatever material was found there, since the material could have come from the surrounding environment." Following the renewed discussion of tobacco sparked by Balabnova's research and its mention in a 2000 publication by Rosalie David, a study in the journal Antiquity suggested that reports on both tobacco and cocaine in mummies "ignored their post-excavation histories" and pointed out that the mummy of Ramesses II had been moved five times between 1883 and 1975.
14th- and 15th-century Europe
Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and feudal baron of Roslin (c. 1345 – c. 1400) was a Scottish nobleman. He is best known today because of a modern legend that he took part in explorations of Greenland and North America almost 100 years before Christopher Columbus. Henry was the grandfather of William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness, the builder of Rosslyn Chapel (near Edinburgh, Scotland). The authors Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight believe some carvings in the chapel to be ears of New World corn or maize. This crop was unknown in Europe at the time of the chapel's construction, and was not cultivated there until several hundred years later. Knight and Lomas view these carvings as evidence supporting the idea that Henry Sinclair travelled to the Americas well before Columbus. Specialists in medieval architecture interpret these carvings as stylised depictions of wheat, strawberries or lilies.
Some have conjectured that Columbus was able to persuade the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon to support his planned voyage only because they were aware of some recent earlier voyage across the Atlantic. Some suggest that Columbus himself visited Canada or Greenland before 1492, because according to Bartolomé de las Casas he wrote he had sailed 100 leagues past an island he called Thule in 1477. Whether he actually did this and what island he visited, if any, is uncertain. Columbus is thought to have visited Bristol in 1476. Bristol was also the port from which John Cabot sailed in 1497, crewed mostly by Bristol sailors. In a letter of late 1497 or early 1498 the English merchant John Day wrote to Columbus about Cabot's discoveries, saying that land found by Cabot was "discovered in the past by the men from Bristol who found 'Brasil' as your lordship knows". There may be records of expeditions from Bristol to find the "isle of Brazil" in 1480 and 1481. Trade between Bristol and Iceland is well documented from the mid 15th century.
Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés records several such legends in his General y natural historia de las Indias of 1526, which includes biographical information on Columbus. He discusses the then-current story of a Spanish caravel that was swept off its course while on its way to England, and wound up in a foreign land populated by naked tribesmen. The crew gathered supplies and made its way back to Europe, but the trip took several months and the captain and most of the men died before reaching land. The ship's pilot, a man called Alonso Sánchez, and very few others finally made it to Portugal, but all were very ill. Columbus was a good friend of the pilot, and took him to be treated in his own house, and the pilot described the land they had seen and marked it on a map before dying. People in Oviedo's time knew this story in several versions, but Oviedo regarded it as myth.
In 1925, Soren Larsen wrote a book claiming that a joint Danish-Portuguese expedition landed in Newfoundland or Labrador in 1473 and again in 1476. Larsen claimed that Didrik Pining and Hans Pothorst served as captains, while João Vaz Corte-Real and the possibly mythical John Scolvus served as navigators, accompanied by Álvaro Martins. Nothing beyond circumstantial evidence has been found to support Larsen's claims.
Early Chinese accounts of Muslim expeditions state that Muslim sailors reached a region called Mulan Pi (literally "magnolia skin") (Chinese: 木蘭皮; pinyin: Mùlán Pí; Wade–Giles: Mu-lan-p'i). Mulan Pi is normally identified as Spain, though some fringe theories hold that it is instead some part of the Americas. The sources for this claim are Lingwai Daida (1178) by Zhou Qufei and Zhufan Zhi (1225) by Chao Jukua, together referred to as the "Sung Document".
One supporter of the interpretation of Mulan Pi as part of the Americas was historian Hui-lin Li in 1961, and while Joseph Needham is also open to the possibility, he doubts that Arabic ships at the time would have been able to withstand a return journey over such a long distance across the Atlantic Ocean and points out that a return journey would have been impossible without knowledge of prevailing winds and currents.
Scholar Cyrus H. Gordon believed that Phoenicians and other Semitic groups had crossed the Atlantic in antiquity, ultimately arriving in both North and South America. This opinion was based on his own work on the Bat Creek inscription Similar ideas were also held by John Philip Cohane; Cohane even claimed that many geographical names in America have a Semitic origin.
Using gold obtained by expansion of the African coastal trade down the west African coast, the Phoenician state of Carthage minted gold staters in 350 BC bearing a pattern, in the reverse exergue of the coins, interpreted as a map of the Mediterranean with the Americas shown to the west across the Atlantic. Reports of the discovery of putative Carthaginian coins in North America are based on modern replicas, that may have been buried at sites from Massachusetts to Nebraska in order to confuse and mislead archaeological investigation.
Irish and Welsh legend
The legend of Saint Brendan, an Irish monk, involves a fantastical journey into the Atlantic ocean in search of Paradise in the 6th century. Since the discovery of the New World, various authors have tried to link the Brendan myth with an early discovery of America. The voyage was recreated in recent times by Tim Severin.
According to British legend, Madoc was a prince from Wales who explored the Americas as early as 1170. While most scholars consider this legend to be untrue, it was used as justification for British claims to the Americas, based on the notion of a Briton arriving before other European nationalities. Local legend holds that Devil's Backbone, a rock formation near Louisville, Kentucky, was used as a citadel by Madoc and his companions. A memorial tablet erected at Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama reads: "In memory of Prince Madog, a Welsh explorer, who landed on the shores of Mobile Bay in 1170 and left behind, with the Indians, the Welsh language." One tribe which was said to be Welsh-speaking was the Mandan.
Biologist and controversial amateur epigrapher Barry Fell claims that Irish Ogham writing has been found carved into stones in the Virginias. Linguist David H. Kelley has criticized some of Fell's work but nonetheless argued that genuine Celtic Ogham inscriptions have in fact been discovered in America. However, others have raised serious doubts about these claims.
Evidence of contacts with the civilizations of Classical Antiquity – primarily with the Roman Empire, but sometimes also with other cultures of the age – have been based on isolated alleged archaeological finds in American sites that originated in the Old World.
A small terracotta head sculpture, with a beard and European-like features, was found in 1933 (in the Toluca Valley, 72 kilometres southwest of Mexico City) in a burial offering under three intact floors of a pre-colonial building dated between 1476 and 1510. The artifact has been studied by Roman art authority Bernard Andreae, director emeritus of the German Institute of Archaeology in Rome, Italy, and Austrian anthropologist Robert von Heine-Geldern, both of whom stated that the style of the artifact was compatible with small Roman sculptures of the 2nd century. If genuine and if not placed there after 1492 (the pottery found with it dates to between 1476 and 1510) the find provides evidence for at least a one-time contact between the Old and New Worlds.
According to ASU's Michael E. Smith, John Paddock, a leading Mesoamerican scholar, used to tell his classes in the years before he died that the artifact was planted as a joke by Hugo Moedano, a student who originally worked on the site. Despite speaking with individuals who knew the original discoverer (García Payón), and Moedano, Smith says he has been unable to confirm or reject this claim. Though he remains skeptical, Smith concedes he cannot rule out the possibility that the head was a genuinely buried Post-classic offering at Calixtlahuaca.
Claims of contact have often been based on occurrences of similar motifs in art and decoration, or on depictions in one World of species or objects that are thought to be characteristic of the other World. Famous examples include a Maya statuette claimed to depict a bearded man rowing, a cross in bas-relief at the Temple of the Cross in Palenque. Nevertheless, most of these finds can be explained as the result of mis-interpretation. The Palenque "cross", for instance, is almost certainly a stylized maize plant.
In 1950 an Italian professor suggested that a depiction of a pineapple was represented among mediterranean fruits wall paintings at Pompeii. According to Wilhelmina Feemster Jashemski this interpretation has been challenged by other botanists, who identify it as a pine cone from the Umbrella pine tree which is native to the Mediterranean area,
The Bat Creek inscription and Los Lunas Decalogue Stone have led some to suggest the possibility that Jewish seafarers may have come to America after fleeing the Roman Empire at the time of the Jewish Revolt.
The Fuente Magna, also known as the Fuente Bowl, is a large stone vessel, resembling a libation bowl. It is asserted to have been found in the 1950s by a worker from the CHUA Hacienda near Tiwanaku, west of La Paz, Bolivia. The inscription has been claimed to contain Sumerian writing, and is said to resemble that on the later found Pokotia Monolith. It resides in a small museum in Calle Jaén, La Paz, Bolivia; Museo de metales preciosos "Museo de Oro".
Proposed claims for an African presence in Mesoamerica rest on attributes of the Olmec culture, the presence of an African plant species in the Americas, and interpretations of certain European and Arabic historical accounts.
The Olmec culture existed from roughly 1200 BCE to 400 BCE. The idea that the Olmecs are related to Africans was suggested by José Melgar, who discovered the first colossal head at Hueyapan (now Tres Zapotes) in 1862. More recently, Ivan van Sertima has argued that these statues depict settlers or explorers from Africa, but his views have been the target of severe scholarly criticism.
North African sources describe what some consider to be visits to the New World by a Mali fleet in 1311. According to these sources, 400 ships from the Mali Empire discovered a land across the ocean to the West after being swept off course by ocean currents. Only one ship returned, and the captain reported the discovery of a western current to Prince Abubakari II; the off-course Mali fleet of 400 ships is said to have conducted both trade and warfare with the peoples of the western lands. It is claimed that Abubakari II abdicated his throne and set off to explore these western lands. In 1324, the Mali king Mansa Musa is said to have told the Arabic historian, Al-Umari that "his predecessors had launched two expeditions from West Africa to discover the limits of the Atlantic Ocean."
According to the abstract of Columbus' log made by Bartolomé de las Casas, the purpose of Columbus’ third voyage was to test both the claims of King John II of Portugal that “canoes had been found which set out from the coast of Guinea [West Africa] and sailed to the west with merchandise” as well as the claims of the native inhabitants of Hispaniola that “from the south and the southeast had come black people whose spears were made of a metal called guanín...from which it was found that of 32 parts: 18 were gold, 6 were silver, and 8 copper.”
Other researchers have argued that the Olmec civilization came into existence with the help of Chinese refugees, particularly at the end of the Shang dynasty. In 1975, Betty Meggers of the Smithsonian Institution argued that the Olmec civilization originated due to Shang Chinese influences around 1200 BCE. In a 1996 book, Mike Xu, with the aid of Chen Hanping, claimed that celts from La Venta bear Chinese characters. These claims are unsupported by mainstream Mesoamerican researchers.
Other claims have been made for early Chinese contact with North America.
In 1882 artefacts identified at the time as Chinese coins were discovered in British Columbia. A contemporary account states that:
In the summer of 1882 a miner found on De Foe (Deorse?) creek, Cassiar district, Br. Columbia, thirty Chinese coins in the auriferous sand, twenty-five feet below the surface. They appeared to have been strung, but on taking them up the miner let them drop apart. The earth above and around them was as compact as any in the neighborhood. One of these coins I examined at the store of Chu Chong in Victoria. Neither in metal nor markings did it resemble the modern coins, but in its figures looked more like an Aztec calendar. So far as I can make out the markings, this is a Chinese chronological cycle of sixty years, invented by the Emperor Huungti, 2637 B. C., and circulated in this form to make his people remember it.
In 1885, a vase containing similar discs was also discovered, wrapped in the roots of a tree around 300 years old. Grant Keddie, Curator of Archeology at the Royal BC Museum, examined a photograph taken in the 1940s a coin from Cassiar (whereabouts now unknown) and believes character style and evidence that it was machine ground show it to be a 19th-century copy of a Ming Dynasty temple token.
A group of Chinese Buddhist missionaries led by Hui Shen before 500 CE claimed to have visited a location called Fusang. Although Chinese mapmakers placed this territory on the Asian coast, others have suggested as early as the 1800s that Fusang might have been in North America, due to perceived similarities between portions of the California coast and Fusang as depicted by Asian sources.
In his book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, the British author Gavin Menzies made the controversial claim that the fleet of Zheng He arrived in America in 1421. Menzies' contact hypothesis is regarded by professional historians as invented without proof.
In 1973 and 1975 dough-nut shaped stones were discovered off the coast of California that resembled Chinese stone anchors used by fishermen. These (sometimes called the Palos Verdes stones) were initially thought to be up to 1500 years old and proof of pre-Columbian contact by Chinese sailors. Later geological investigations showed them to be a local rock known as Monterey shale, and they are thought to have been used by Chinese settlers fishing off the coast in the nineteenth century.
Smithsonian archaeologist Betty Meggers noted that pottery associated with the Valdivia culture of coastal Ecuador dated to 3000–1500 BCE exhibited similarities to pottery produced during the Jōmon period in Japan, arguing that contact between the two cultures might explain the similarities. Chronological and other problems have led most archaeologists to dismiss this idea as implausible. The suggestion has been made that the resemblances (which are not complete) are simply due to the limited number of designs possible when incising clay.
Alaskan anthropologist Nancy Yaw Davis claims that the Zuni people of New Mexico exhibit linguistic and cultural similarities to the Japanese. The Zuni language is a linguistic isolate, and Davis contends that the culture appears to differ from that of the surrounding natives in terms of blood type, endemic disease, and religion. Davis speculates that Buddhist priests or restless peasants from Japan may have crossed the Pacific in the 13th century, traveled to the American Southwest, and influenced Zuni society.
James Wickersham argued that pre-Columbian contact between Japanese sailors and Native Americans was highly probable, given that from the early 1600s to the mid-1800s several dozen Japanese ships were carried from Asia to North America along the powerful Kuroshio Currents. Such Japanese ships landed from the Aleutian Islands in the north to Mexico in the south, carrying a total of 293 persons in the 23 cases where head-counts were given in historical records. In most cases, the Japanese sailors gradually made their way home on merchant vessels, but in 1833 one Japanese crew crashed near Cape Flattery and was enslaved by Makahs for a period before being rescued by members of the Hudson's Bay Company. Another Japanese ship crashed in about 1850 near the mouth of the Columbia River, and the sailors were assimilated into the local Native American population. While admitting there was no definitive proof of pre-Columbian contact between Japanese and North Americans, Wickersham thought it implausible that such contacts as outlined above would have started only after Europeans arrived in North America.
The Book of Mormon states that some ancient inhabitants of the New World are descendants of Semitic peoples, all of whom sailed from the Old World.
Mormon apologetics groups such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies attempt to vindicate these ideas.
Though discovered and documented first in the 1930s, Izapa Stela 5 is particularly noteworthy because of the controversy created by the proposition by Professor M. Wells Jakeman in 1953 that the stone was a record of the Book of Mormon tree of life vision, which he considered of Old World origin.
Trans-oceanic travel from the New World
In addition to trans-oceanic travel to the Americas from elsewhere, there is also evidence for possible travels originating from the New World.
Inuit and Arctic peoples
There is substantial evidence for Inuit and other American Arctic peoples arriving in Europe prior to Columbus' voyage. Contact between indigenous Americans and the Norse of Greenland as early as the 11th century is well attested. In 1009, Norse explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni captured two boys from Markland (Labrador) and took them to Greenland, where they were taught to speak Norse and baptized. The Norse sagas report that Thorfinn sailed to Norway and then Iceland shortly after; though it is not explicitly stated, it is likely he took his two captives with him. If so, they may have been the earliest Americans to come to Europe. It is possible that the Norse took other indigenous peoples to Europe as slaves over the next centuries, as they are known to have taken Scottish and Irish slaves.
In 1420, Danish geographer Claudius Clavus Swart wrote that he personally had seen "pygmies" from Greenland who were caught by Norsemen in a small skin boat. Their boat was hung in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim along with another, longer boat also taken from "pygmies". Clavus Swart's description fits the Inuit and two of their types of boats, the kayak and the umiak. Similarly, the Swedish clergyman Olaus Magnus wrote in 1505 that he saw in Oslo Cathedral two leather boats taken decades prior. According to Olaus, the boats were captured from Greenland pirates by one of the Haakons, which would place the event in the 14th century.
Additionally, there is substantial evidence of Inuit coming to Europe under their own power or as captives after 1492, opening up the possibility that this had happened previously as well. A substantial body of Greenland Inuit folklore first collected in the 19th century told of journeys by boat to Akilineq, here depicted as a rich country across the ocean.
Pre-Columbian contact between Alaska and Kamchatka via the subarctic Aleutian Islands would have been conceivable, but the two settlement waves on this archipelago started on the American side and its western continuation, the Commander Islands, remained uninhabited until after Russian explorers discovered the Aleut people in 1741. There is no genetic or linguistic evidence for earlier contact along this route.
Other possible trans-Atlantic contacts
According to Bartolomé de las Casas, two dead bodies that looked like those of Indians were found on the Portuguese Flores Island in the Azores. He said he found that fact in Columbus' notes, and it was one reason why Columbus presumed that India was on the other side of the ocean. In Ferdinand Columbus' biography of his father Christopher, he says that in 1477 his father saw in Galway, Ireland two dead bodies which had washed ashore in their boat. The bodies and boat were of exotic appearance, and have been suggested to have been Inuit who had drifted off course.
Túpac Inca Yupanqui, the tenth Inca emperor, is said to have led an expedition lasting between nine months to a year into the Pacific Ocean around 1480, which discovered two islands. It has been suggested that the islands he visited are the Galápagos, or possibly Polynesian islands (Easter Island). The story says that he brought back gold, brass, and the skin and jaw of a horse, none of which would have been found on islands in the south Pacific. This story inspired the Kon Tiki expedition, which set out to prove that such a voyage was possible.
In addition to the Mormon stories about people sailing to the New World, there is also the story of Hagoth, who it is alleged sailed from the Americas to Polynesia. But while the stories of Lehi and Jared are generally accepted by Mormons, that of Hagoth is more ambiguous and not universally supported by practising Mormons, and not at all by non-members of that church. Differentiating between scriptural and apocryphal accounts of Hagoth and his ships, one Mormon writer makes the following observations:
The Book of Mormon does not equate the “west sea” with the Pacific Ocean. The Book of Mormon does not tell us that Hagoth was on board any of the ships that were lost. Scripture does not say that he captained a vessel or that he was an explorer or an adventurer, or that he led people. For all we can tell, the skilled Hagoth’s main objective was to profit from the shipping industry. It is possible for peoples in various places to be related to Hagoth’s people (the Nephites) without Hagoth personally making an ocean voyage. Coastal and Island hopping colonies, once associated with Nephite shipping, could have built more vessels and traveled very far. It is also important to realize that the peoples of the Pacific islands may have come from more than one direction.
Non-scriptural sources suggest that Hagoth led an expedition, sailing into the Pacific Ocean from the Americas. Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and scholars have stated that the peoples of the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Polynesia, and New Zealand, are descendants of the Nephite Hagoth and his supposed followers. According to the Book of Mormon, the Nephites were descendants of Israel. Many rank and file members of the LDS church in Polynesia have come to believe that Hagoth is their ancestor.
- Origins of Paleoindians
- Davenport Tablets
- Diffusion (anthropology)
- Institute for the Study of American Cultures
- Kensington Runestone
- Maine Penny
- Newport Tower
- Timeline of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact
- Vinland map
- Westford Knight
- Columbian Exchange
- Solutrean hypothesis
- Gwennan Gorn (ship)
- Kowtko, Stacy (2006). Nature and the Environment in Pre-Columbian American Life. Greenwood. p. X. ISBN 978-0313334726.
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- Gongora, J.; Rawlence, N. J.; Mobegi, V. A.; Jianlin, H.; Alcalde, J. A.; Matus, J. T.; Hanotte, O.; Moran, C.; Austin, J. J.; Ulm, S.; Anderson, A. J.; Larson, G.; Cooper, A. (2008). "Indo-European and Asian origins for Chilean and Pacific chickens revealed by mtDNA". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (30): 10308–10313. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801991105. PMC 2492461. PMID 18663216.
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- From the University of York Magazine, page 9, April/May 2008
- Cocaine – Encyclopedia.com (2007)
- Tobacco – Encyclopedia.com (2007)
- "Curse of the Cocaine Mummies" written and directed by Sarah Marris. (Producers: Hilary Lawson, Maureen Lemire and narrated by Hilary Kilberg). A TVF Production for Channel Four in association with the Discovery Channel, 1997.
- "A look at the Evidence for Cocaine in Mummies". Thehallofmaat.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
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- Buckland, P.C., Panagiotakopulu, E "Rameses II and the tobacco beetle" Antiquity 75: 549–56 2001
- Counsell, D. C., "Intoxicants in Ancient Egypt? Opium, nymphea, coca, and tobacco," in David, Ann Rosalie, ed. Egyptian Mummies and Modern Science, Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-521-86579-1 p.213
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- Historian Mark Oxbrow, quoted in "The ship of dreams" by Diane MacLean, Scotsman.com, 13 May 2005
- "It is most probable that Columbus visited Bristol, where he was introduced to English commerce with Iceland." Bedini, Silvio A. and David Buisseret (1992). The Christopher Columbus encyclopedia, Volume 1, University of Michigan press, republished by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-13-142670-2, p. 175
- Seaver (1995) p.222
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- Joseph Needham & Colin A. Ronan (1986). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China 3. Cambridge University Press. pp. 119–20. ISBN 0-521-31560-3
- Hui-lin Li; Li, Hui-lin (1960–1961). "Mu-lan-p'i: A Case for Pre-Columbian Transatlantic Travel by Arab Ships". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Harvard-Yenching Institute) 23: 114–126. doi:10.2307/2718572. JSTOR 2718572
- Joseph Needham & Colin A. Ronan (1986). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 120. ISBN 0-521-31560-3
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- Robert C. Mainfort, Jr., and Mary L. Kwas, "The Bat Creek Stone: Judeans In Tennessee?" Tennessee Anthropologist Vol. XVI, No. 1, Spring 1991
- Cyrus Herzl Gordon, Before Columbus; links between the Old World and ancient America, Crown, 1971, p. 138
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- "I have no personal doubts that some of the inscriptions which have been reported [in the Americas] are genuine Celtic ogham. [...] Despite my occasional harsh criticism of Fell's treatment of individual inscriptions, it should be recognized that without Fell's work there would be no [North American] ogham problem to perplex us. We need to ask not only what Fell has done wrong in his epigraphy, but also where we have gone wrong as archaeologists in not recognizing such an extensive European presence in the New World." D. H. Kelley, "Proto-Tifinagh and Proto-Ogham in the Americas:Review of Fell; Fell and Farley; Fell and Reinert; Johannessen, et al.; McGlone and Leonard; Totten", The Review of Archaeology, Spring 1990, http://www.reviewofarchaeology.com/pastissues.html
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- Stirling, p. 2, who cites Melgar, Jose (1869) "Antigüedades mexicanas, notable escultura antigua", in Boletín de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, época 2, vol. 1, pp. 292–297, Mexico, as well as Melgar, Jose (1871) "Estudio sobre la antigüedad y el origen de la Cabeza Colosal de tipo etiópico que existe en Hueyapan del cantón de los Tuxtlas" in Boletín de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, época 2, vol. 3, pp. 104–109; Mexico.
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- Pool, p. 92, who cites Gordon Ekholm (1964) "Transpacific Contacts" in Prehistoric Man in the New World JD Jennings and E. Norbeck, eds., Chicago: University of Chicago, pp. 489—510.
- This theory is mentioned in the history book The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (1963) by William H. McNeill
- Xu, Origin of the Olmec civilization.
- Dr. Mike Xu's Transpacific website, comparing Olmec and Chinese Shang period artifacts.
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|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Chow, Lily (2000). "The Gold Fever". Chasing their dreams : Chinese settlement in the Northwest region of British Columbia = Zhui qun meng xiang. Prince George, B.C.: Caitlin Press. ISBN 0-920576-83-4.
- Megan Merry McCormick (1984). "Chinese Coins and Pre-Columbian Asian Contacts with the Pacific Northwest". In Herbert C Taylor and Garland F Grabert. Western Washington Indian socio-economics: papers in honor of Angelo Anastasio. Western Washington University. p. 172.
- Anonymous (1892). "The Land of Fu-Sang,' Science 20:148; reprinted in William R. Corliss, ed. (1978) Ancient Man: A Handbook of Puzzling Artifacts, Glen Arm, Maryland: Sourcebook Project, ISBN 0915554-03-8 p. 767
- Feder, Kenneth L., Frauds, Myths and Mysteries, Third Edition, Mayfield Publishing Company, 1999 pp. 103–104
- Menzies, Gavin. 1421: The Year China Discovered the World (Transworld Publishers, 2003).
- "The 1421 myth exposed". Retrieved 2007-03-22.
- "Zheng He in the Americas and Other Unlikely Tales of Exploration and Discovery". Archived from the original on 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
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- Kenneth L. Feder, Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis To The Walam Olum, page 209(Greenwood, 2010). ISBN 978-0-313-37919-2
- Valdivia, Jomon Fishermen, and the Nature of the North Pacific: Some Nautical Problems with Meggers, Evans, and Estrada's (1965) Transoceanic Contact Thesis Gordon F. McEwan, D. Bruce Dickson American Antiquity, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Jul., 1978), pp. 362–371.
- Prehistory of the Americas By Stuart J. Fiedel pp 188–189.
- Davis, Nancy Yaw (200). The Zuni Enigma. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-32230-0, ISBN 978-0-393-32230-9
- Wickersham, James (1892). "Origin of the Indians--The Polynesian Route." American Antiquarian, 16:323-335, partly reprinted in William R. Corliss, ed. (1978) Ancient Man: A Handbook of Puzzling Artifacts, Glen Arm, Maryland: Sourcebook Project, ISBN 0915554-03-8 pp. 705-709
- *Brewer, Stewart W., (1999); "The History of an Idea: The Scene on Stela 5 from Izapa, Mexico, as a Representation of Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life", (p. 12)
- Forbes, Jack D. (2007). The American Discovery of Europe. University of Illinois Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-252-03152-0. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- Forbes, Jack D. (1993). Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples. University of Illinois Press. pp. 18–21. ISBN 0-252-06321-X. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- Fossett, Renée (2001). In Order to Live Untroubled: Inuit of the Central Arctic, 1550-1940. University of Manitoba Press. pp. 75–77. ISBN 0-88755-647-7.
- "The Peopling of the Aleutians". Science 335 (6065). 2012-01-13. pp. 158–161. doi:10.1126/science.335.6065.158.
- De Las Casas, Bartolomé; Pagden, Anthony (September 8, 1999). A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indias. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044562-5.
- Seaver (1995), p. 208
- Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. "TUPAC INCA YUPANQUI SETS OUT, A SECOND TIME, BY ORDER OF HIS FATHER, TO CONQUER WHAT REMAINED UNSUBDUED IN CHINCHAY-SUYU". In Sir Clements Markham. History of the Incas. Sir Clements Markham. – see note 104
- Coon, W. Vincent, Q & A, “Hagoth’s Lost Ships!”; additionally, Coon notes that the scriptural use of the term “curious” may mean “accomplished with skill and ingenuity” and does not necessarily imply an inclination for adventure.
- R. Lanier Britsch stated in the New Era, "Since the days of George Q. Cannon in Hawaii (1851–54), the Church leaders had more and more frequently alluded to the idea that the Polynesians were descendants of Lehi, the early Book Of Mormon prophet. Although the relationship between the Polynesian peoples and the alleged “adventurer” Hagoth (see Alma 63:5–8) is not clear—he being a Nephite and the Polynesians appearing to be Lamanites—Church leaders have time and time again referred to the Polynesians as children of Lehi." - R. Lanier Britsch, "Maori Traditions and the Mormon Church", New Era, June 1981
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Book of Mormon Seminary Student Study Guide
- "Book of Mormon Student Manual". Ldsces.org. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- For one Mormon artists portrayal of Polynesian people as the "Children of Hagoth", originally published in the Liahona (magazine) see A Worldwide Look at the Book of Mormon
Hagoth considered a "hero" by Polynesian Mormon youth, as published in the Liahona (magazine) - Kathleen C. Perrin, “Tahitian Pearls”
- Ashe, Geoffrey, The Quest for America (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971);
- Blench, Roger (2010). "Remapping the Austronesian expansion" (PDF). In Evans, Bethwyn. Festschrift for Malcolm Ross. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 1–25. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- Fagan, Brian M. The Great Journey. Thames and Hudson. 1987);
- Feder, Kenneth L. (1999) "Frauds, myths, and mysteries: science and pseudoscience in archaeology" (3rd ed., Mountain View, Calif. : Mayfield Pub. Co., 1999)
- Fell, Barry (1984) America B.C. : Ancient Settlers in the New World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984)
- William J. Hamblim Archaeology and the Book of Mormon (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1993), Volume 5, Issue 1, pp. 250–272, Text ;
- Gerol, E. Harry Dioses, Templos y Ruinas.
- Guernsey, Julia (2006) Ritual and Power in Stone: The Performance of Rulership in Mesoamerican Izapan Style Art, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, ISBN 978-0-292-71323-9.
- Hey, J. (2005). "On the number of New World founders: A population genetic portrait of the peopling of the Americas". Public Library of Science Biology 3: e193.
- Howgaard, William (1971) The Voyages of the Norsemen to America (New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1914, Kraus Reprint Co., 1971);
- Hristov, Romeo H. and Santiago Genovés T. (2001) "The Roman Head from Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca, Mexico: A Review of the evidence", Paper prepared for the 66th—Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans (2001).
- Huyghe, Patrick (1992) Columbus was Last: A Heretical History of who was First (New York: Hyperion, 1992; Anomalist Books, 2005)
- Ingstad, Helge Westward to Vinland (New York: St. Martins, 1969);
- Johnson, Adrian America Explored (New York: The Viking Press, 1974);
- Jones, Gwyn A History of the Vikings (Oxford University Press, 1984);
- Jones, Peter N. American Indian mtDNA, Y Chromosome Genetic Data, and the Peopling of North America. Boulder: Bauu Press. 2004;
- Lawrence, Harold G. (1962). African Explorers of the New World. John Henry and Mary Louisa Dunn Bryant Foundation. ASIN B0007HV7US.
- Arlington Mallery and Mary Roberts Harrison, The Rediscovery of Lost America (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1979);
- Marcus, G. J., "The Conquest of the North Atlantic" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980);
- Mowat, Farley (1998) The Farfarers (Toronto, Key Porter Books, 1998) ISBN 1-55013-989-4;
- Frederick J. Pohl, The Lost Discovery (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1952);
- Frederick J. Pohl, The Viking Explorers (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1966);
- Gary A. Rendsburg, "'Someone Will Succeed in Deciphering Minoan': Minoan Linear A as a West Semitic Dialect," Biblical Archaeologist, 59:1 (1996), pp. 36–43, esp. p. 40.
- Seaver, K.A.(1995) The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America ca A.D. 1000–1500 Stanford University Press ISBN 0-8047-3161-6
- Smith, Michael E. "The 'Roman Figurine' Supposedly Excavated at Calixtlahuaca", accessed December 2007.
- Sorenson, John L. and Johannessen, Carl L. (2006) "Biological Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages." In: Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World. Ed. Victor H. Mair. University of Hawai'i Press. Pp. 238–297. ISBN 978-0-8248-2884-4; ISBN 0-8248-2884-4
- Sorenson, John L.; Raish, Martin H. (1996) Pre-Columbian Contact with the Americas Across the Oceans: An Annotated Bibliography. 2v. 2d ed., rev., Provo, Utah: Research Press, ISBN 0-934893-21-7.
- Sorenson, John L. and Johannessen, Carl L. (2009) World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492, Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, ISBN 978-0-595-52441-9;
- Stirling, Matthew (1967) "Early History of the Olmec Problem", in Dumbarton Oaks Conference on the Olmec, E. Benson, ed., Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.
- Storey, Alice A.;Ramırez, Jose Miguel; Quiroz, Daniel; Burley, David V.; Addison, David J.; Walter, Richard; Anderson, Atholl J.; Hunt, Terry L.; Athens, J. Stephen; Huynen, Leon; Matisoo-Smith, Elizabeth A. (2007) "Radiocarbon and DNA evidence for a pre-Columbian introduction of Polynesian chickens to Chile", in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 19, 2007, v. 104, n. 25, pp. 10335–10339.
- Van Sertima, Ivan (1976). They Came Before Columbus. Random House. ISBN 0-394-40245-6.
- Von Wuthenau, Alexander (1975). Unexpected Faces in Ancient America: The Historical Testimony of Pre-Columbian Artists. Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-51657-8.
- Wauchope, Robert (1962) Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents. University of Chicago Press.
- Williams, Stephen (1991) "Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory", Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0-8122-8238-8/0-8122-1312-2.
- Man across the sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian contacts (Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1971).
- Report of Severin's trip in the National Geographic Magazine, Volume 152, Number 6 (December 1977).
- Erik Wahlgren The Vikings and America (1986, 2000) ISBN 0-500-28199-8.
- Cyrus H. Gordon Before Columbus; Links Between the Old World and Ancient America (1971) ISBN 0-517-50441-3
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