Origins

The series “Origins” opens the new season with several articles from our guest author Harry Bourne.

India, Africa, the Sea & Antiquity: “Amerindia” and Scandinavia

Author: Harry Bourne

What is about to be described in this section is to demonstrate what is written about various groups hypothesised to have reached parts of Africa in antiquity and will mainly follow Oliver Cromwell’s much-quoted comment on the occasion of his portrait being painted. This was that the portrait had to include his warts plus all his other imperfections or never be done.
This wartsn’all approach means the noting of the good and bad about the cited groups. This will largely concentrate on the period between circa (= ca.) 500 BCE and ca. 500 CE. By BCE is meant Before Common Era (= BC) and CE indicates Common Era (= AD). Indian seafarers are mainly excluded from this section and will be discussed in Part 2 and onwards. Mention of such as “online in 2015” indicates access in that year.

 

Part 1.3

“Amerindia”

12308146_928578847198001_8942020860098921126_o.jpg

This section figures the people(s) variously known as the First Nations, Native Americans, Amerindians, Amerinds, etc. The latter is plainly an abbreviated form of the term immediately preceding it. The inclusion of the Amerinds may be somewhat unexpected but hopefully the reason for this will become obvious.

There has been a considerable amount of research into the maritime history of Amerinds on the Pacific or west-facing littoral of the Americas. Attesting the very long history of seafaring of Amerinds these shores of West-coast Americas is the near-800 pages by Thor Heyerdahl (20). Useful supporting material is in “The Dissemination of American Economic Plants on Precolumbian Sea Routes” by Bruno Wolters (21). Also useful are Richard Callaghan (22), Dorothy Hosler (23), etc.

The last three named are among those showing extensive commercial traffic along these Pacific-facing parts of West-coast Americas. Heyerdahl, Wolters, etc, demonstrate this was largely raft-based that again could be non-stop for ca. 3500 miles between Ecuador and west Mexico. A major difference between that of the Indo-Malay ANs on the Indian Ocean and that of West-coast Americas is that the Amerind seacraft had clearly defined steering and propulsion modes. The propulsion came by use of sails and the steering methods were based on devices called guares/guaras, swords/daggers, leeboards, etc.
Evidence of the passages between Ecuador to west Mexico include shaft-graves, clothing, language, ceramics (& associated technology), metallurgy (& associated metallurgy), terraced agriculture, etc. Useful agricultural produce was also exchanged according to Wolters (ib.), as were psychoactive plants plus fungi according to such as Terry McGuire (24). Hosler (ib.) points to the interesting case of the bird called the white-faced jay. She says Ecuadorian habitat differs from that of Ecuador where it has a very restricted distribution in Mexico and says there are no known intermediate stages between Ecuador and west Mexico. She thought that it was attractive to the traders because of its color and its ability at mimicry.

The Ecuadorian merchants not only brought these birds to west Mexico but came looking for supplies of the Spondylus shell plus the psychoactive drugs also known in the homeland and apparently having the effects. McGuire (ib.) also refers to an overland trade also reaching east Mexican parts of North America. Looming large among the ancient cultures here are the Olmecs.

The Olmec Culture may have had their heartland in the Veracruz province (Mexico). An alternative name for them according to Philip Arnold (25) was Uixtotin (= Peoples of the Saltwater/Sea). To this is to be added Giancarlo Sette (26). Sette (ib.) shows Olmec artifacts evidently traded for gold and jade from Panama/Costa Rica. They include an Olmec-made object found in Costa Rica having decoration matched at the Early Olmec site of La Venta (Mex.) so presumably indicates the beginnings of this trade. What Hosler (ib.) says about the white-faced jay probably showing non-stop traders for ca. 3500 miles applies equally to Veracruz-to- Panama voyages.

By far the most complete research into the seafaring of East-coast Amerinds is by Jack Forbes (27 & 28) and is probably the nearest there is to Heyerdahl’s (ib.) massive book touched on already. He regards it as probable that East-coast Amerinds from those of Mesoamerica to those of North America as capable reaching parts of Europe. Forbes (ib.) cites John Heaviside (29) as an early believer of Amerinds reaching that part of Africa known as Egypt.

In this opinion, Heaviside runs opposite to the rather later one of Stephen Compton (30) but both agree on the Egypto/Mexican connections (as do many others). Forbes (ib.) refers to many instances of Amerinds possibly known in ancient Europe Also to the finding of bodies with faces that were neither African nor European in vessels washed up in the Azores. This was evidently reported by the brother-in-law of Columbus. Gordon Kennedy (31) makes a further possible linkage of Amerinds with the island-groups collectively known as the Macaronesian Islands that are otherwise the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries plus the Cape Verde Islands.

Kennedy is manly describing the Canary Islands. Heaviside refers to half-black and half-white populations in west African oral-lore. He says this is mirrored by a passage in the Popol Vuh (= Counsel-book [of the Quiche Maya]), itself oft-said to be the nearest thing to an Amerind sacred book. More on this comes with the frequent comparisons of west African faces and some those carved on the Olmec Great Heads, the head of a young Yoruba (Nigeria) woman and another in the famous Wuthenau collection, of the names of Yemoja/Yemoya ( a Yoruban sea-goddess) and Yemoye (an Amerind spelling of Jamaica). Other hints added when we read of Roger Blench (32) saying it seems the African palm-oil tree turned into that of the Americas and the American silk-cotton tree became the African silk-cotton tree.

A similar pattern of plant exchanges was briefly noted as having been shown by Wolters (ib.) but it should be said that this was mainly a trade in coastal waters. Views earlier than those of Heyerdahl (1952) are cited by Michael Bradley (33) that totally dismisses Amerinds sailing on rafts. Nor do all authorities agree that rafts are a typical seacraft of West –coast Amerinds.

Even after the exploits of Heyerdahl detailed in his massive 800 pages (& elsewhere) there is an opinion this only shows Norwegians are good sailors not South American Amerinds were/are. The DNA tests demonstrate Heyerdahl’s basic thrust of an Amerind origin for the Polynesians was wrong but should not be taken as indicating the Amerinds of southern West-coast Americas did not venture out on to the Pacific Ocean.

Two books by Jack Forbes have been referred to. In them, he makes obvious he has little time for claimed Africans as an ancestral strand of the Olmecs of Mexico or as traders in the Caribbean coeval with Columbus. It should be borne in mind that although Forbes points to an offshoot of the North Equatorial Current west-flowing to the Gulf of Guinea, the voyages there described in Richard Callaghan’s computerised simulations denote that they were of a drift not purposeful nature.

Douglas Peck (34) says Amerinds could not get from Yucatan (east Mex.) to Cuba. If wrecks truly imply bad seacraft, the probable Amerind bodies found in the Azores were in a wrecked vessel. Many would disagree with Kennedy (ib.) seeking Amerind links with the Canaries; the more so given there was even very little contact with nearby islands. With the Cape Verde Islands as the last of the Macaronesian groups in mind, any attempt at linking them with Amerinds in west Africa would surely fail on such as Elysee Reclus (34) noting the current between these islands and Senegal halted contacts. This would almost mirror what Peck says about Yucatan to Cuba.

 

Expedition_Kon-Tiki_1947._Across_the_Pacific._(8765728430).jpg

Thor Heyerdahl’s Expedition Kon-tiki

 

 

Scandinavia

Scandinavia or Nordic Europe is the homeland of the variously labelled as Vikings or Norse and it might again be wondered why they are included here. One similarity are scenes on rocks depicting economic activities in parts of Africa and Scandinavia. Those in the latter region include fishing and are detailed in Graham Clark’s (35) “The Development of fishing in prehistoric Europe”. Clark’s many works attest large bones showing adult cod at sites of the Mesolithic (= Middle Stone Age) plus the gathering of stone from the Lofoten Islands for axe-making. The rock-art continues through the Neolithic (= New Stone Age) into the succeeding Bronze and Iron Ages. By the Pre-Roman Iron Age, the Hjortspring/Nydam/Kvalsum/ Gokstad sequence of Nordic ship-building has already begun. It should be borne in mind this is a simplified version of development but serves as rough and ready way to demonstrate stages leading up to the beginning of the Viking period.
The ship excavated at Gokstad (Norway) in the 19th c. is held to be a fine example of Nordic/Viking shipbuilding. As the Phoenicians had a round-shaped merchantmen called the golah so the Vikings had one called the knarr. Likewise, the Phoenicians had a called a kirkarah and the Vikings had the drakarr (= dragon-ship/longship). As is normal, the drakarr as a warship gets most attention.

Drakarr

Viking long ship “drakarr”

 

Follow up: Part 1.3: . Stay tuned. 

The first chapters of this can be found here:

Part 1.1 China

Part 1.2 Indonesia

Advertisements

Origins

The series “Origins” opens the new season with several articles from our guest author Harry Bourne.

India, Africa, the Sea & Antiquity : Indonesia

Author: Harry Bourne

What is about to be described in this section is to demonstrate what is written about various groups hypothesised to have reached parts of Africa in antiquity and will mainly follow Oliver Cromwell’s much-quoted comment on the occasion of his portrait being painted. This was that the portrait had to include his warts plus all his other imperfections or never be done.

This wartsn’all approach means the noting of the good and bad about the cited groups. This will largely concentrate on the period between circa (= ca.) 500 BCE and ca. 500 CE. By BCE is meant Before Common Era (= BC) and CE indicates Common Era (= AD).

Indian seafarers are mainly excluded from this section and willbe discussed in Part 2 and onwards. Mention of such as “online in 2015” indicates access in that year.

 

Part 1.2

Indonesia

Borobudur-Sunrise-and-Merapi-Volcano-

Polynesian tongues were seen as belonging to the Austronesian family as does the Fijian language which is the best known of those in Melanesia (= the Black Islands). Reasons put forward as to why there is so little evidence for brown-skinned Polynesians in Melanesia is that they moved so fast through Melanesia or that they were so few in number as to be unable resist absorption.

Colonisation somewhat to the west was traced in Hornell’s (12) famous “Indonesian Influences on East African Culture”. Roger Blench (13) is one of those arguing the same and again adopts the raft-first/canoe-next thinking. Pliny (1st c. CE Roman) refers to seacraft generally attached to ANs on vessels having no oars, no sails, no rudders, etc, carried by ocean currents directly for ca. 3500 miles between ISEA/Indonesia and an unpopulated “Great Island (= Madagascar). The ANs on Madagascar is proven by the Austronesian basis of Malagasy itself the language of all Madagascans.
The AN/Madagascan presence in east Africa seems shown several ways. Having seen traits regarded as integral for all Polynesians except the Maoris, so too were pigs and chickens and yet they too appear not have been brought with the ANs coming to the Great Isle. The Malagasy chickens plus pigs seemingly originate with east Africa.
Musas (= plantains/bananas) are generally seen as originally farmed in ISEA but they reached east Africa. According to Hornell (1934) and others citing Idrissi (12th c. Arab), the seacraft here were Austronesian/Indonesian as east Africans had no ships. Pliny wrote of the arrivals intermarrying with east Africans and Idrissi says the ANs and Africans understood each other’s language. Another Islamic historian is ibn Said/Zaid (13th c. CE).

A passage of his is cited by Hornell (ib.) as marking a mass migration of ANs and/or Malagasy inland towards Great Lakes plus Mountains of the Moon parts of east-central Africa. Hornell regards this as proven by the forms of Great Lakes canoes (esp. those of the Baganda type). More the same comes with the story of ANs shipwrecked in the Bajun Islands (off Somalia) and who passed into east terminology as the Wadiba. It runs as follows, on being rescued, the grateful ANs/Wadiba taught the Bajuni islanders how to construct seacraft called mitepe (plural of mtepe).
If it is correct bananas as a crop originate in southeast Asia, there are varieties unknown in east Africa or on the overland routes across Africa. However, there are some known as phytoliths in pits at Kang (Cameroon) of 1000-500 BCE in west Africa. Something else felt to originate in ISEA is the nasty disease called elephantiasis and it too carries dates on figurines of the Nok Culture (Nigeria) akin those for Kang. The Kang and Nok material is considered as positive proofs of Austronesians in these parts of west Africa.
Hornell (ib.) further says that among the famous carvings at the famous Buddhist at Burobudur (Java, Indonesia) are several of ships. He also cites Diogo de Couto (15th/16th c. Portuguese) described ANs (termed “Javanese” by de Couto) as reaching Cape Town (Sth. Af.). This means the ANs/Javanese ships were capable of surviving the terrors of the seas off Cape Agulhas. This was the case with the reconstruction of a Burobudur ship led described in “From Indonesia to Africa: The Burobudur Ship Expedition” by Philip Beale (14) from the IOR, past this Cape, on to the Atlantic, along Atlantic-facing shores to as far north as Ghana in west Africa.
At about the same time, Hornell (ib) notes Chinese texts record the several Javanese wrecks in presumably the South China Sea en route to China. The oddities of ANs putting themselves plus families on rafts having no oars, no sails and no rudders to drift non-stop across ca. 3500 miles of open ocean towards an unpeopled Madagascar seems absurd. Not to be overlooked is Pliny reporting many deaths on these voyages. On the other hand, this description of west-going ANs was evidently was once the considered opinion of some expert views of their day.
When looking at the migrations from ISEA, genetics applied to those going towards the east lead to the totally contradictory conclusions of the “fast-train” theory plus the equally daft label of thinking tagged as that of the “slow-boat”. These east-going Austronesians were seen to have evolved into the Polynesians in turn settled on even the remotest of Pacific islands. This included New Zealand where the Polynesians are named Maoris. Maori colonies south of New Zealand were shown and may be confirmed by the story of Uiterangi and Antarctica.
However, whether Maori Uiterangi seeing Antarctic ice has any more substance than Irish Brendan seeing Arctic ice must remain moot. Some of the doubts about ANs on Madagascar having no inhabitants were given above and more were said to have colonised parts of east Africa. These particular Austronesians are then said by Hornell (ib.) to have also brought with them the proto-mtepe plus features of certain types of the construction of Great Lakes canoes.

The direct and non-stop nature of these migratory voyages to a Madagascar devoid of people then inland parts of Africa stand to be challenged on many counts. The oddities of what some have believed about the voyages have been outlined. The Polynesians were definitely islanders and Hornell refers to the terms of Polynesians and Tyyans (= Islanders) used by Tamils of Pre-Tamils in south India. At the same time, he removes Tyyans as relevant when saying this is a Tamil word for Sri Lankans not Polynesians.
The lack of Pre-AN inhabitants is fully answered in “Madagascar in the Malayo/Polynesian Myths” by Keith Hall (15) telling us of Pre-AN inhabitants. Messrs. Worthington (16), Huntingford (17), Wicker (18), etc, do so on the matter of Hornell’s attribution of certain traits of Great Lakes canoes to AN/Wadiba sources. Indeed, Worthington’s final words might almost gloss might those of Neville Chittick when putting proto-mitepe to purely African sources.

At one stroke a major strut reinforcing Hornell’s theory of AN/Malagasy migrants in central Africa is removed. This also probably means this theory is as illusory as that of Phoenico/Punics on the far side of Africa. If mitepe were the seacraft carrying ANs from the IOR, past Cape Agulhas on to the Atlantic, their presence in east Africa is interesting. Here they were used to escape ships enforcing British anti-slavery policy. They did so by entering shallow waters where the British ships could not. Bob Holzman (19) shows they were notoriously leaky. We may well wonder if such a leaky and shallow-water ship-type could survive passing ocean to ocean. Manasala’s “Catalan, Y-DNA & the Sayabiga” noting possible ANs in Iberia may tell for overland not sea-borne contact(s).

Borobudur ship

Ship on Borobudur bas relief (Wikipedia)

Follow up: Part 1.3: “Amerindia”. Stay tuned. 

The first part of this series can be found here

Origins

The series “Origins” opens the new season with several articles from our guest author Harry Bourne.

India, Africa, the Sea & Antiquity: China

Author: Harry Bourne

What is about to be described in this section is to demonstrate what is written about various groups hypothesised to have reached parts of Africa in antiquity and will mainly follow Oliver Cromwell’s much-quoted comment on the occasion of his portrait being painted. This was that the portrait had to include his warts plus all his other imperfections or never be done.

This wartsn’all approach means the noting of the good and bad about the cited groups. This will largely concentrate on the period between circa (= ca.) 500 BCE and ca. 500 CE. By BCE is meant Before Common Era (= BC) and CE indicates Common Era (= AD).

Indian seafarers are mainly excluded from this section and willbe discussed in Part 2 and onwards. Mention of such as “online in 2015” indicates access in that year.


Part 1.1

China

main-custom-t-1011-600x315-hbjjgbodzkrpsxhvhnydbqpcudtxxubp

Probably the most thorough research into theorised voyages across the enormous Pacific Ocean are by the authors summarised in the two volumes edited by John Sorenson and Martin Raish (1). Several of them firmly opine ancient Chinese knew the Americas as the White Coast, Fusan/Fusang, Mulanpi, etc, and are the ancestors of the Olmecs. The Olmecs are a culture of what variously are called the Native Americans, American Indians, Amerinds, etc, and many of who have the so-called Chinese eye-fold.

The Chinese (Fu)san resembles at least one of the umpteen names applied to the Africans  severally called San, Khwe, Aka/Akka among numerous others. It seems they seemingly once occupied most of Africa but are now mainly confined to its least desirable corners (esp. the southwest). Their small stature, yellowish skins, epicanthis, etc, made the San/Khwe ideal candidates for speculation about antecedents. The first Dutch in southern Europe happily filled the gaps according to Tia Mysoa (2) when attributing these antecedents to the crew of a wrecked Chinese ship and this will be seen to have other parallels.

It will be obvious it is the variously tagged epicanthic, Mongolian, Chinese or Mandelan fold of the eye takes most attention in the attribution to Chinese sources when it occurs in Africa. Tests by Chinese scientists on the DNA hair of the population of the Lamu-group island of Pate and a local women was identified as a “China girl” and there is a one-time naval supremacy of China to which to this is then attached. Porcelain of Chinese manufacture has several Kenyan find-spots and the Chinese placename of Shanghai and that of Shanga (Pate, Kenya) have also been compared.

A recent popular about the Chinese in Pre-Colonial Africa is the book simply titled 1421 by Gavin Menzies (3). He described the Treasure ships that the Ming Shi-li (= Ming Records) says were enormous and were led across the Indian Ocean Region (= IOR) by the Chinese admiral Zheng-he/Cheng-ho. Menzies (ib.) further tells us about the Chinese ships having passed Cape Agulhas and on to points west. The significance about Cape Agulhas is that it is the southernmost point of continental Africa not Cape Town as so often said. To its east is the IOR and to its west is the Atlantic. According to Menzies, the Chinese were led by Zheng-he past Cape Agulhas, much of Atlantic-west Africa up to the Gulf of Guinea. Zheng-he is also said to have sailed past Gulf-facing Africa to as far north in west Africa as the Cape Verde Islands. Here they left an inscription marking this great feat at Janela.

The South China Sea has been the scene of some spectacular wrecks of Chinese ships according to Arab chronicles cited by James Hornell (4). The Chinese legend of Hsu-Fu tells of 3000 Chinese supposedly migrating across the Pacific Ocean. If their ships are exampled by the replica also named as Hsu-Fu, it fell apart several hundred miles short of its intended American destination according to Tim Severin (5).

The Tek Sing was another wooden Chinese ship. It was en route to Indonesia and foundered on an Indonesian island. The loss of life was so great that the Tek Sing has acquired the clearly unwanted label of the eastern Titanic according to a Wikipedia (6) contribution.  This is despite the expected Chinese knowledge over the centuries of the routes to and from the South China Sea.

On the other hand, that the Chinese fleet led by Zheng-he did get to and crossed the Indian Ocean Region (= IOR) is beyond question. However, the size of his ships has been questioned very seriously by Zheng-Ming (7) and Stephen Davis (8) in China and outside of China respectively. Even a massive timber found in a Chinese frequently claimed as proving the giant size of the Chinese ships turns out to belong to a river-craft not a seacraft. Probably the most authentic giant wooden ships are the Orlando class of battleships constructed for the British Royal Navy that another Wikipedia entry. Their very length made them so unstable and needing steel supports that they proved useless and were soon scrapped. It will be shown this is not the only example of ancient ships of giant size to which this applies.

Geoff Wade (9) closely examined the supposedly peaceful and benign nature of Zheng-he’s expeditions and concluded it was anything but on both counts. The epicanthic fold is known all over Africa and owes nothing to shipwrecked Chinese. The more so given that the San represent probably the oldest known strand of mankind. As to the “China girl” from the Kenyan island of Pate, Geoffrey York (10) reports that her brother apparently from the same set of parents and all being black Africans is totally baffled as to her synodontism claimed by Chinese scientists.

This will indicate the “China girl” that York (ib.) says was said by Chinese sources as marking a one-time Chinese maritime supremacy does nothing of the kind as to proving this was ever the case. This resembles something on another small island a little to the north of Pate to be mentioned in the next section. The porcelain plus other small finds of Chinese origin occurring in Kenya are likely to indicate general trade with east Africa.

The Shangai/ Shanga equation actually proves to have no more substance to it than that of the comparison of Shiraz (Persia/Iran) and the Shirazi (= Swahili) of east Africa. The more so given that Felix Chami (11) has effectively removed this line of argument. York (ib.) further shows that despite the claimed Chinese wreck and despite diligent searches by the Chinese, so far actual wrecks are unproven. There is thus little support for the Chinese claims. Moreover, if Zheng-he’s ships got past Cape Agulhas and sailed along the west African coast, it is surely legitimate to wonder why such a feat was marked in the Janela (Cape Verde Islands) inscription in an obscure Indian language.

un-atardecer-y-un-barco-2674

 

Follow up: Part 1.2: Indonesia. Stay tuned.