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Mysterious Strangers
New Findings About the First Americans

By Graham Hancock

Virachocha Head
Image of Viracocha from Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

Readers of my books Fingerprints of the Gods (first published April 1995) and Heaven's Mirror (first published September 1998) will know that I have consistently argued that the Americas were inhabited in prehistoric times by a variety of different ethnic groups - Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid. Such ideas have caused deep offence to some American Indians, who have long claimed to be the only 'native' Americans, and also contradict academic teachings which hold that the New World remained uninhabited by humans until the end of the last Ice Age and was then settled exclusively by Mongoloid nomads from Asia who crossed the Bering Straits about 12,000 years ago (when there was a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska) and made their way thence into all of North and South America - reaching the latter only about 9000 years ago. Naturally this teaching also holds that no Caucasoids or Negroids were present anywhere in the Americas prior to the coming of Columbus and the European conquest in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries AD.

The WalkerBearded Caucasian
Caucasoid figure (known as 'The Walker'), La VentaCaucasoid figure, Monte Alban

One of the historical mysteries that drew me into writing Fingerprints was the eloquent mythical and sculptural testimony concerning a time, long ago, when people who were definitely not American Indians inhabited the Americas. Both the god Viracocha, in South America, and the god Quetzalcoatl in Mexico were described as tall, white-skinned and red-bearded - sometimes blue-eyed as well.

Bearded Caucasians
Caucasoid figure, Monte Alban

At Monte Alban, near Oaxaca, and at La Venta, on the Gulf of Mexico (a site associated with the mysterious "Olmec" culture, supposedly the first and the oldest high civilisation of Mesoamerica), ancient carved figures have been found that seem to depict such individuals. In the case of Monte Alban these Caucasoid figures date back to about 600 BC and in the case of La Venta to about 1200 BC - almost 3000 years before the European conquest.

Olmec HeadOlmec Head
Olmec Heads

More intriguing still, other sculptures, mostly in the form of carved megalithic heads, were also found at La Venta in the same archaeological strata as the Caucasoid figures. Once again, these sculptures, the so-called "Olmec Heads", do not display the typical features of native American Indians. This time they are unmistakably Negroid in appearance - depicting individuals who must have closely resembled modern Africans, Melanesians or Australian Aborigines.

Olmec Head
Olmec Head

In Fingerprints of the Gods and Heaven's Mirror I wrote at length about these anomalistic sculptures and the myths that accompany them. I argued that real people must have served as the models for both types and that they should therefore be taken seriously as historical testimony of the presence of Caucasoids and Negroids in the New World more than 3000 years ago. This view that was not accepted by a single orthodox scholar in 1995 when Fingerprints was first published. Since then new evidence has come to light which has obliged the experts to reconsider their position and step back from the dogma of exclusively Mongoloid settlement of the Americas. The first breakthroughs came in 1996 and 1997:

Washington Post, Final Edition, Tuesday 15 April 1997.
'Skeletons unearthed in several western states and as far east as Minnesota are challenging traditional views that the earliest Americans all resembled today's Asians. The skeletons' skulls bear features similar to those of Europeans, suggesting that Caucasoid people were among the earliest humans to migrate into the New World more than 9000 years ago. Anthropologists have known of such bones for years, but did not fully appreciate their significance until re-appraising them over the last few months. The new analyses were prompted by the discovery last summer of the newest addition to the body of evidence - the unusually complete skeleton of an apparently Caucasoid man who died about 9300 years ago near what is now Kennewick, Washington... The man's head and shoulders were mummified, preserving much of the skin in that area... Those who examined [him at first thought the bones] were the remains of a European settler [until radiocarbon revealed their great age]. "It's an exciting time, and I think we're going to see some real changes in the story about the peopling of North America," said Dennis Stanford, an authority at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.'

Not all scholars agree that Kennewick Man was a Caucasoid [Link 1]. But at the very least the discovery has raised significant doubts about the established model of the peopling of the Americas. Other discoveries have raised further doubts.

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