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
H/T to JR Bentley for the below link…………….
An article appearing in “Science” on 24 April 2018 reports on new evidence concerning just when early humans began taking to the sea. The article suggests that Stone Age people may have indeed voyaged the Mediterranean Sea long before we thought possible.
A decade ago researchers found stone tools on the Island of Crete that dated back to at least 130,000 years and most archaeologists at the time were nothing short of stunned! Many were skeptical and remain so even today. However, over the past decade researchers at the site have built a rather convincing case for ancient seafaring during the Stone Age! And that’s not all because that evidence strongly suggests the possibility that Neanderthals were the sailors!!
I’ve blogged about this subject before postulating that seafaring was even undertaken by Homo erectus which I still hold to. That evidence suggesting Neanderthals were also seafarers does NOT surprise me in the least. In fact, I would expect it to be so!
What this newest evidence suggests is that seafaring predates modern humans both on the cognitive level and the technology level. Prior to this evidence the earliest seafarers were assumed to be from the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age ran from around 3300 to 1200 BC in the Near East and South Asia, and from around 3222 to 300 BC in Europe and East Asia. In contrast, the Stone Age lasted about 3.4 million years ending sometime between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE. Continue Reading
Scientists associated with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris have concluded accurate dating of bone ornaments from Brazil’s Santa Elina rock shelter and that dating shows that humans were in that area earlier than 20 kya!!
Rock art at Sierra de Capivara national park Brazil
The rock shelter is located in the central part of Brazil and contains fantastic rock art made by some of the First Americans. This is a long term habitation site meaning that it was used by humans over a long period of different times. However, it seems to be a site that was inhabited periodically when hunting was good and not a site in which people lived continuously. Occupation of this site appears to range from the Late Pleistocene and the Late Holocene.
Researchers have found evidence of human habitation across Brazil at early periods with some of the earliest dates ranging around 60 kya and, YES, some of these dates are controversial, however, these dates remain standing. Continue Reading
The biggest story in Anthropology for 2017 seems to be the mastodon site found in San Diego, California because it has turned everything we thought we knew about early humans in the Americas upside down. I posted about this back in April and you can find that post at the link below:
Remains of bone and teeth from mastodons at this site have been dated at 130 kyr (thousand years old) and they show evidence of early human modification. Analysis of the finds dramatically alter the timeline for when humans first arrived in North America.
The remains were discovered by Richard Cerruti a construction site monitor for the San Diego Natural History Museum. The project involved building new freeway expansion project in the area back in 1992. This discovery has caused more controversy than one could imagine with some scholars outright infuriated by it. But the evidence is there…clearly!
In addition to my post referenced above I also want to add that the remains were found in a cave near the ocean and this MAY suggest that the mastodon hunters were seamen. Fact is that it’s been estimated that 90% of all ancient pre-Ice Age human fossil remains probably lay under 300 feet of ocean water today along shorelines. That would be due to the fact that Ice Age sea levels fluctuated and due to our current warming period known as the Holocene. Ice Ages lock up water in ice and sea levels lower as a result. Warming periods melt ice and sea levels rise (as we see today). I’m pretty sure that some early human ancestors were sailors in primitive boats and these people may have been some of those prehistoric sailors.
Although surprising the San Diego site is not the only site that has turned our concept of our ancient ancestors upside down. You will find some of the other discoveries that have also contributed to that at the following link:
In Anthropology NOTHING is set in concrete and EVERYTHING is fluid. That’s because when we find new fossil evidence everything we thought we knew turns out to be wrong and theories must be revamped and revised to fit the new evidence. At least that is how REAL SCIENCE is supposed to work! Theories should fit the evidence not visa-versa!!
Happy New Year everyone and I’m sure 2018 is going to bring even more exciting discoveries in anthropology!!!
Were the ancient Phoenicians in the Americas? Was this where the gold and silver was obtained from the build the infamous Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem? The Phoenicians were well known for the ability to navigate the high seas and that is not a matter of question. In fact, they were renowned for this ability throughout the ancient world. There is even archaeological evidence that these ancient seafarers used sophisticated instruments for navigation on the waters and that they had a very large fleet of ships. These ships were not some primitive form of dugout but well built and sophisticated vessels some of which could carry over 500 people! These facts alone speak to the greatness of Phoenician shipping.
Artistic depiction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem
We know that in the 10th century BC suddenly huge amounts of gold and silver found their way to Jerusalem and that during that time Israel’s King Solomon “made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones for abundance.” At least that is what the Bible says in the book of 1 Kings 10:27. But could it be true? Did King Solomon ever exist?
Solomon reportedly had at his disposal a navy from Tarshish and Hiram and once every 3 years the navy of Tarshish brought gold and silver, ivory and apes, and PEACOCKS to Jerusalem. Peacocks are significant here because without a doubt they could have only come from Southeast Asia and that is proof that the Phoenicians sailed to SE Asia to obtain them or, at least, they had contacts with people in SE Asia who provided them with the peacocks. The Phoenicians also brought apes to Jerusalem and those apes could have been large gorillas or monkeys of varied sizes. The must have obtained them from central Africa and/or South or Central America. Again, proof that the Phoenicians had contact with a wide range of people in the world. 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
Reconstructed face from Paleoindian skull named “Naiia” who lived about 13-20 kya in the Americas. This face shows some very obvious Oriental features!!
Back in April I posted about the fossil remains of Luzia Woman found in Brazil. Most anthropologists, including myself, believe she was a Paleo-Indian who may well have been part of the first wave of migrants into South America. The fossil remains have been dated at about 11.5 kya and in terms of all things anthropological that’s not that long ago. In fact, it was towards the end of the last glaciation. You can find my original post at the link below. Continue Reading