|Step pyramids, Xian, China|
|Step pyramids, Teotihuacan, Mexico|
Perhaps such similarities are just coincidences - although personally I rather doubt it. Setting aside all other issues and anomalies, however (and there are many, eg, see images on right), I contend that the ancient Caucasoid and Negroid skeletons that have been found in the New World mean that there can no longer be any room for preconceived notions. The true history of the peopling of the Americas is likely to turn out to be extraordinarily complex and attenuated, involving many different ethnic groups and cultures in many different epochs. It does not surprise me at all that the Chinese might have been here 3000 years ago, or the Phoenicians at about the same time - as others have suggested - or the remarkable Jomon culture of Japan, or the Egyptians, or - much later - the Vikings. I believe it to be very likely, indeed little short of a certainty, that all these peoples and several others as well must have independently 'discovered' the Americas, in isolated individual cases, over and over again, from the very earliest times.
But how early?
If we keep on pushing this inquiry back into the past - back beyond the earliest-known historical civilisations - then what, ultimately, do we come to?
The possible Shang influence on Olmec writing and art takes us back 3000 years, well within the bounds of recorded history. But Kennewick Man and Luzia take us back respectively 9300 and 12000 years, the latter date being some 7000 years earlier than Sumer and Egypt - the earliest known historical civilisations - and smack in the middle of the end of the last Ice Age when the Earth passed through a gigantic cataclysm and floods from the melting ice sheets scoured the globe.
Some scholars have expressed the view that Luzia's people could have come to South America from the Pacific and been related to Australian Aborigines. Certainly there is evidence that in ancient times the Aboriginies possessed sophisticated sailing and navigational skills. So far, however, there is no historical theory that can explain the presence in the New World at such early dates not only of Negroid Aboriginies but also of Caucasoids - let alone the fact that memories of these conspicuous strangers appear to have been preserved in myths and in sculptures as far afield as Bolivia and Mexico.
As well as being an intriguing human and archaeological mystery, therefore, what we now know about the first Americans represents a radical and robust challenge to orthodox scholarship.
I suspect that this story will run and run.
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