An excerpt from the introduction of a new book by Gary R. Varner, Ancient Footprints: Cultural Diffusion in Pre-Columbian America.
When we think of the “First Americans” we generally tend to think of the American Indian. After all, there is no doubt that the Indian has lived in North America for thousands of years, descended from those original explorers who trekked across the Bering land bridge. At least this is what we are taught in school. But is this entirely correct? Were there others that came perhaps before and during the original population of North and South America by those that would later be called “Native Americans”? Were there others that embarked on expeditions to the mysterious lands to the west (or east) that brought not only trade goods but knowledge and ideas of other religions, cultures and oral traditions?
There have been a number of publications over the years promoting theories of cultural diffusion involving ancient Hebrews, Chinese, European and even aliens from space. This book will explore many of these theories and, hopefully, promote a discussion about the very real possibility that ancient civilizations did in fact exist in the past that traveled vast distances, settling remote corners of the world and contributing to the spread of knowledge, including agriculture, metallurgy, architecture and art. But is there any evidence for these theories? In fact, there is a considerable amount of anomalous artifactual evidence from many parts of the Americas to support theories of cultural diffusion over a vast time period. However, because the evidence is outside acceptable scientific boxes it is rejected. Archaeologist George Carter wrote, “I have read of a Chinese lamp found in Mexican archaeology, which was rejected as evidence because it was obviously a Chinese lamp. In Peru dozens of classic Graeco-Roman oil lamps have been found, but to my knowledge only one has been published…A bronze spear on Monhegan Island, Maine, where an inscription was found is also ignored. The bracelets with the Bat Creek find were misidentified as colonial copper, but are a rare brass used in the Mediterranean only at the time the accompanying inscription indicates and for which there is also a confirming C-14 date…How much more has been swept under the academic rug?”
Stone structures, including dolmen, barrows, towers and megaliths, carvings, runes, maps, and other artifacts make up part of the fascinating evidence that most scientists either don’t accept or assign to more common and acceptable origins. But there is also genetic evidence such as Asiatic chickens and Nordic cats existing in pre-Columbian America as well as other food-stuffs crossing the ocean in both directions hundreds and thousands of years ago.
We know that the Phoenicians traveled from their homes on the Mediterranean Sea to what would become England, that the Pacific Islanders originated in Taiwan but were able to traverse the ocean to settle hundreds of other islands and that some scientist now think that the Solutrean peoples of Spain and France sailed to North America, establishing the Clovis culture around 13,000 years ago.
That civilizations have risen and fallen over thousands of years is not debated and, in fact, “civilization” and agriculture continue to be pushed back in time. Would it be so unthinkable that people have followed their natural instincts to explore new lands and new wonders around the world? We accept the fact that ancient hominids traveled from Africa to Northern Europe and Asia hundreds of thousands of years ago, we accept that ancient seafarers traveled from Taiwan and the Philippines to populate Polynesia. In a recent press release from The University of Stavanger in Norway, concerning ancient burials on the island of Vanuatu, it was reported “Vanuatu's first inhabitants probably came from Taiwan and the Philippines, having travelled thousands of miles by outrigger canoes equipped with sails and big enough to contain large families. The canoers settled on the uninhabited islands, and supported themselves by fishing and cultivating the land.” Isn’t it as possible that such seafarers also traveled to North America?