When most of us think of ancient seafaring we think of something along lines of Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the New World using three ships. Those ships, however, were very small compared to ancient ships built by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, et al. Columbus only had about 88 men on board his three ships and two of his ships were only 50 feet long! That’s about the size of a small fishing boat.
Chinese trading ship of Admiral Zheng He
When we look at the history of China we get a clue at just how much more advanced these people were than Europeans when it came to ship building and exploration. For example, there is a tiny island off the coast of Africa called “Pate” which is just off the coast of Kenya. People living on that island claim that they are the descendants of Chinese sailors who were shipwrecked on the island several centuries ago! These Chinese sailors traded with local Africans and they even took a few giraffes back to China for the emperor’s pleasure! People on this island have an Asian appearance, somewhat and many have antique porcelain heirlooms in their homes that resemble those made by the ancient Chinese.
History tells us that some six centuries ago a mighty Chinese armada sailed westward to Ceylon, East Africa, and Arabia for trade. Some of the ships (junks) had giant nine-masted sails and accompanying them were smaller escort vessels carrying patrol boats, horses, soldiers, supply ships, etc. This armada was anything but small because in total there were more than 27,000 soldiers and sailors! The biggest ships were recorded as being over 400 feet long and 150 ft wide! In comparison, Columbus’ ship named the Santa Maria was only 90×30 feet. These ancient Chinese ships were massive, to say the least. Continue Reading
Nothing ever remains the same. Life is always changing and so is the planet we live on. This is important to keep in mind because when we look at a map of the present Earth we often assume that all of the land masses, seas, and oceans we see today have always been there. But that isn’t true! Seas, oceans, and land masses have changed dramatically over the history of our planet. What was once dry land is now under the water and what was once under the water is now dry land.
A landbridge once existed between Siberia and Alaska, for example, but today we see only islands and ocean water. If the sea level were lowered in that region by just 100 feet we’d see some of that landbridge again today! This landmass has existed several times over the course of history so it was not just a one time event.
Some oceanographers and geologists believe that sea levels may have once been at least 500 feet lower than they are today! Those lands that were dry land then are today under water. Think of how much human history might be under water today because of this. Think of how the migration patterns of our ancient human ancestors might be under the sea today. We simply cannot assume that the dry land we see today has always been so. It hasn’t.
The North Sea was once a great plain and England and Ireland were connected. Italy was connected with Africa and the Mediterranean was once two great lakes instead of a sea. Some of these lands were once home to evidence of human migration and civilization. Some were the homes of palaces, temples, and communities. But today they are all under sea water. Most of the continental selves which mark the true boundaries between oceans and land are today deep under the ocean’s waters! Those ocean water depths range anywhere from 100 to 300 to 1500 feet or more! We might think of this as the true ocean basins being overflowing with water, in fact, and when we think of Noah’s Flood we might even say that our planet is STILL recovering from that ancient flood as some theorists and biblical scholars believe!! Continue Reading
A new genetic study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that ancient people in the Americas separated into two populations between 18-15 kya and remained apart for millennia before mixing again. This reconvergence happened either prior to or after their expansion into South America according to the study.
These findings challenges previous research that suggested that the first people of the Americas split into northern and southern branches and that the southern branch alone gave rise to all ancient populations in Central and South America. But, this new study says “not so!”. Deep in their genetic DNA many native people in South America retain at least some of the DNA from the “northerners” who are direct ancestors of many Native Americans today living in the eastern parts of Canada.
This along with various other studies are beginning to prove to us that the peopling of the Americas was NOT so simple as we thought. In fact, it’s beginning to appear a bit more complicated. Continue Reading
Tianyuan Man fossil remains, China
An analysis of an ancient Chinese fossil known as “Tianyuan Man” dated at 40 kyr has revealed some surprising findings. We’ve known that this fossil is closely related to modern Asians, or so we thought. However, recent analysis of the fossils yielded a surprise no one, almost, was expecting and that is that a 35 kyr fossil found in Belgium (GoyetQ116-1) thought to be closely related to ancient Europeans shares some genetic similarities to Tianyuan Man and these similarities are NOT shared by other ancient European remains. Additionally, the analysis showed that some Native American populations from South America appear to have a genetic connection with Tianyuan Man! BTW Tianyuan Man was a Homo Sapiens species.
What is beginning to appear is that the population that crossed into the Americas about 20 kya was NOT one single migration or time period but several and at least one of these groups had genetic ties to ancestors that contributed DNA to modern Papuan and Onge people. There appears to be no trace of this connection in present day East Asians or Siberians, however and unlike these two present day populations Tianyuan Man appears to have genetic similarities to some native South American populations!
What this newest analysis does is confirms, directly, that multiple ancestries in Native Americans were all from populations originating in mainland Asia and it seems to indicate that the migrations from Asia to the Americas happened around 20 kya or more. However, Tianyuan Man is at least twice that age and this means that the populations that migrated into the Americas were diverse and those diversities must have existed for at least 40,000 years. Continue Reading
Artistic bust of Peking Man
Dragon Bone Hill overlooks the sprawling Chinese capital of Beijing (formerly Peking). It is a small limestone mountain visited by over 150,000 visitors each year. It was here in 1929 that the first specimen of Asian Homo Erectus was found known as “Peking Man.” The find consisted of a nearly complete skull dated between 680-780 kyr. The specimen was also one of the earliest ancient human ancestor fossil remains ever found but since that time the fame and importance of Peking Man has dwindled, sadly. Older fossils have been discovered in Africa where environmental conditions for fossil formation are more conducive. China and Southeast Asia tend not to be very good places for finding fossils due to the tropical climate and wet conditions in much of the region. Today Chinese paleoanthropologists wonder if H. erectus died out or contributed genes to modern Chinese people.
In the past decade China has stepped up efforts to uncover evidence of early human ancestors in the country and surrounding region. Old fossils are being reanalysed and old theories are being revised as new evidence comes to light. And the Chinese government has built a million dollar lab to extract and sequence ancient DNA!
More and more paleoanthropologists are beginning to finally pay attention to what is being found and what has been found in China and Asia in general. Discoveries in China and Asia clearly indicate that there was a variety of prehistoric human ancestors in the region and these finds are beginning to challenge some conventional ideas about just what our evolutionary history might really be!
Sadly, Western researchers tend to view fossils and artifacts in terms of those found in Africa and Europe due to the age of the fossils found there and because they are closer to major research facilities. However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that Asian fossils do NOT fit into the traditional narrative of human evolution
There have been several discoveries over the past few years that are changing what we think about how and when the Americans were populated by modern humans and now comes yet MORE evidence that modern humans were in Brazil about 23 kya (thousand years ago). These new discoveries are proving our textbooks WRONG and frankly that is a breath of fresh air!!
A recent article in the journal “Antiquity” suggests that prehistoric modern humans were hunting giant ground sloths in eastern Brazil 23 kya. A large number of stone artifacts and bones were found at a rock shelter at Santa Elina between 1954-2004 and reanalysis now suggests small, bony sloth skin plates were notched and perforated and made into ornaments by modern humans living in the area. Remains of fire hearths were also found in the sediment layers. Dating suggests humans were living in the area at least 20 kya and the dates also suggest that humans were living again in the area between 10,000 and 2000 years ago. Continue Reading
“The Northern Toltec in the American Southwest”
Authors: Dr Roberto Peron, Barb Benson, Rob L.
Dr. Cyclone Covey was a history professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and he had some interesting theories. One book he authored entitled “Calalus” tells of what he believes was a Roman Jewish colony in Arizona northeast of Tucson. He believed the “Tucson Artifacts” were real although most scholars believe them to be fakes. I’ll be posting about these artifacts after I examine them myself very soon.
Portrait of the Toltec emperor Tecpancaltzin lztaccaltzin, 9th ruler of the Toltecs
Covey believed various Jews sailed from the Portuguese port of Porto Cale and founded a city in Florida which they named “Cale.” Today this alleged ancient settlement is known as Ocala which is in North-Central Florida. He also held the view that some Jews escaped Rome and they also set sail to the Americas from Porto Cale in Portugal. Once across the Atlantic they established a Jewish-Roman colony in 775 A. D. near Tucson, Arizona. Further, he believes that during this time the Toltec controlled most of what is today Arizona and New Mexico and that they continuously fought with these new arrivals from Europe until decades later when they finally defeated them and took the Jews captive after destroying their two cities in Arizona. So, these northern Toltec took the Jewish-Roman survivors captive and marched them to Tula, the Toltec capital in Mexico. He also points out that the Toltec emperor at this time was white skinned with a beard! That the Toltec may have dominated Arizona and New Mexico is believed to be so by several researchers so Covey’s thesis is not all that far-fetched! Continue Reading
Did an ancient explorer make it to the Arctic back in 325 BC? Sounds incredible doesn’t it? His name was Pytheas of Massalia and he’s believed to have gone to the Arctic and returned homw safely. Problem was when he got back home no one believed him and they thought his mad!
Back in his times most people believed that the Sun was jerked around in the sky by the gods and when Pytheas described a place where the Sun didn’t shine all winter lng, a place covered in permafrost and frozen waters with icebergs no one believed him for an astounding 1000 years!
Unfortunately, anything that Pytheas may have written about his trek to the regions of ice is lost and most of what we know about his trek comes from the writings of people who didn’t believe him. This man was an explorer and sailor btw. To get to the Arctic he sailed through the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibralter) and to do so he had to manage to get past the Carthaginian army who had a blockade in the area at the time! Continue Reading