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Forum LockedOlmec of african descent?

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Olmec of african descent?
    Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 08:12
Actually it was the Biodiversity forum!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 08:44

Yes, I remember now. I was ban from there because I complain about certain racist oppinions against the Yamanas, the natives of southern Patagonia.

It is a small world. Isn't?
 
Kawashkar/Pinguin LOL
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 15:21
(Sorry about this off topic post)
You were banned? That's odd, you never wrote anything offensive that I could tell. Oh well.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Mar-2007 at 21:38
Well, in one moment I had the bad idea of saying that Hitler was the man that had killed more Europeans ever in history. I was banned for that. It was in the context of defending the Yamanas, natives of the southern tip of South America.
 
Glad to meet you here.
 
Omar Vega (Pinguin/Kawashkar)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Mar-2007 at 03:17
Well, Hitler was surely responsible for the most deaths ever.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jul-2007 at 11:40
Stalin was.
Mughal-e-Azam
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jul-2007 at 11:58

Meh, it's hard to assign blame and say that one person was so much worse than the other... This discussion again.... What about the anonymous inventor of gunpowder? Or what about certain figures in Chinese history, such as An Lu Shan or Hong Xiuquan , who are both held responsible for 20-30 million deaths each? Or what about Genghis Khan or Tamerlane?

Can we stop diverting discussions to topics such as "who's the worst criminal", please? There have been lots of mass murderers in history and even more topics on AE about their relative "merits". Surely, we don't need to hijack other threads for this purpose...

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Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.- Mohandas Gandhi

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jul-2007 at 10:29
While not suggesting that the Olmecs came from Africa there is evidence from reputable sources that the earliest inhabitants of South America were of Negroid appearance.  Human remains of people similar to the Australian Aborigines have been found in South America predating the arrival of those of Mongloid appearance.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jul-2007 at 16:19
Originally posted by Patch

While not suggesting that the Olmecs came from Africa there is evidence from reputable sources that the earliest inhabitants of South America were of Negroid appearance.  Human remains of people similar to the Australian Aborigines have been found in South America predating the arrival of those of Mongloid appearance.
 
It may be. Not precisely Australian aboriguines as you claim, but people similar to the Ainus of Japan, that were quite common in Ancient times in Asia, and some of whose descendents are the Indonesians and Polynesians.
 
Now, some loonies think the Patagones were australoids. Believe me, I know that people because they are fellow Chileans and they looked Amerindian. Pure Amerindian. The rest is fantasy.
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2007 at 15:14
Well actually there is more evidence(not just skeletons) That point to an African prescence in the New World. Taken from "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima: "The Indians gave proof that they were trading with black people. They brought to the Spanish concrete evidence of this trade: "The Indians of Espanola (Current day Haiti and Dominican Republic) said there had come black people who have the tops of their spears made of metal which they call gua-nin, of which he (Coloumbus) had sent samples to the Sovereigns to have them assayed,when it was found that out of 32 parts, 18 were of gold, 6 of silver and 8 of Copper"
 
"The origin of the word guanin may be tracked down in the Mande languages of West Africa, through Mandingo, Kabunga, Toronka, Kankanka, Bambara, Mande, and Vei. In Vei, we have the form of the word ka-na which transliterated into native phonetics, would give us gua-nin. 
 
"In Columbus's journal "gold" is given as coa-na while gua-nin is recorded as an island where there  is much gold. But Fray Bartolome- de las Casas, the Spanish scholar who traveled with Columbus and who was often appalled by his linguistic blunders, even in the use of Castilian Spanish, wrote  in the margin of the journal 'This guanin is no island but that gold which according to the Indians had an odor for which they valued it much.' Similarily in Raccolta, the Italian account of the voyage, one reads "there were pieces of gua-nin as large as the caravel's poop' "
 
 
" On his third voyage he (Columbus) came upon more evidence of the contact between Guinea and the New World. From a settlement along the South American coast on which his men landed on Tuesday, August 7, the natives brought handkerchiefs of cotton very sysmetrically woven nd worked in colors like those brought from Guinea,from the rivers of Sierra Leone and of no differnece. Not only were they alike in style and color but also in function. These handkerchiefs he said ' resembled almayzars- Guinea headdresses and loin cloths. 'Each one is a cloth so woven in colors that is appeared an almayzar with one tied on the head and the other covering the rest.'
 
 
"These were the earliest documented traces of the African presence. Within the first and second decades of the so-called "discovery", African settlements and artifacts were to be sighted by the Spanish. When they were not reported as mere asides they were ignored or suppressed. But history is not easily buried. In the oral tradtions of the Native Americans and Guinea Africans, in the footnotes of the Spanish and Portugese documents, part of the story lies. Another part lies emblamed under American and African earth. As this earth is now being lifted by archaelogical picks and trowels, a new skeleton emerges of the history of these adjaecent worlds." 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2007 at 22:57
Originally posted by Strange

Well actually there is more evidence(not just skeletons) That point to an African prescence in the New World. Taken from "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima: ....
 
Come on. Ivan Van Sertima is a clown. A very smart guy that had make a fortune saling fantasies to Black people. Nothing of what he say in that book correspond to anything real.
 
For credibility, I bet the Book of Mormon and its "lamanites" bull is more precise LOLLOLLOL
 
Sorry,
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 07:02
Originally posted by Strange

Well actually there is more evidence(not just skeletons) That point to an African prescence in the New World. Taken from "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima: "The Indians gave proof that they were trading with black people. They brought to the Spanish concrete evidence of this trade: "The Indians of Espanola (Current day Haiti and Dominican Republic) said there had come black people who have the tops of their spears made of metal which they call gua-nin, of which he (Coloumbus) had sent samples to the Sovereigns to have them assayed,when it was found that out of 32 parts, 18 were of gold, 6 of silver and 8 of Copper"
 
"The origin of the word guanin may be tracked down in the Mande languages of West Africa, through Mandingo, Kabunga, Toronka, Kankanka, Bambara, Mande, and Vei. In Vei, we have the form of the word ka-na which transliterated into native phonetics, would give us gua-nin. 
 
"In Columbus's journal "gold" is given as coa-na while gua-nin is recorded as an island where there  is much gold. But Fray Bartolome- de las Casas, the Spanish scholar who traveled with Columbus and who was often appalled by his linguistic blunders, even in the use of Castilian Spanish, wrote  in the margin of the journal 'This guanin is no island but that gold which according to the Indians had an odor for which they valued it much.' Similarily in Raccolta, the Italian account of the voyage, one reads "there were pieces of gua-nin as large as the caravel's poop' "
 
 
" On his third voyage he (Columbus) came upon more evidence of the contact between Guinea and the New World. From a settlement along the South American coast on which his men landed on Tuesday, August 7, the natives brought handkerchiefs of cotton very sysmetrically woven nd worked in colors like those brought from Guinea,from the rivers of Sierra Leone and of no differnece. Not only were they alike in style and color but also in function. These handkerchiefs he said ' resembled almayzars- Guinea headdresses and loin cloths. 'Each one is a cloth so woven in colors that is appeared an almayzar with one tied on the head and the other covering the rest.'
 
 
"These were the earliest documented traces of the African presence. Within the first and second decades of the so-called "discovery", African settlements and artifacts were to be sighted by the Spanish. When they were not reported as mere asides they were ignored or suppressed. But history is not easily buried. In the oral tradtions of the Native Americans and Guinea Africans, in the footnotes of the Spanish and Portugese documents, part of the story lies. Another part lies emblamed under American and African earth. As this earth is now being lifted by archaelogical picks and trowels, a new skeleton emerges of the history of these adjaecent worlds." 


Interesting
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 11:44
Originally posted by Malik

Originally posted by Strange

Well actually there is more evidence(not just skeletons) That point to an African prescence in the New World. Taken from "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima:...


Interesting
 
Yes. As interesting as the myth of big foot and Snow-white LOLLOLLOL
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 12:20
Saying something is crap has no basis unless you bring evidence against it. I could have said everything you said is BS but I didnt instead I brought evidence to prove a point. Now I sense you saying my source is biased. Funny considering that most of the mainstream history that is taught in schools takes their information from mainly European sources of the era and we all know what most (notice I didnt say all) of them thought about other people around the world (Let alone those oh so primitive and savage Africans)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 12:25
Oh yea and btw I might add this man has credible sources from which he gets his information and he lists them after each chapter in the book. You should read it sometime Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 12:26
Originally posted by pinguin

Originally posted by Strange

Well actually there is more evidence(not just skeletons) That point to an African prescence in the New World. Taken from "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima: ....
 
Come on. Ivan Van Sertima is a clown. A very smart guy that had make a fortune saling fantasies to Black people. Nothing of what he say in that book correspond to anything real.
 
For credibility, I bet the Book of Mormon and its "lamanites" bull is more precise LOLLOLLOL
 
Sorry,
 
Pinguin
 
 
 
Doctor Ivan Van Sertima is a full professor of African studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  He and many of his ideas are highly respected in the Academic community and has a higher degree of credibility than the pretenders you quote.
 
Pinguin, I am getting tired of your abusiveness and the lack of credible responses.  It's typical of someone with no real credible response to ridicule the person he's debating.
 
"Nothing of what he says corresponds to anything real" back it up,[ with sources, credible ones, facts, not biased, opinionated garbage]
 
Back it up or shut up.
 
 


Edited by red clay - 14-Jul-2007 at 12:30
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 13:00
Originally posted by red clay

...
Doctor Ivan Van Sertima is a full professor of African studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  He and many of his ideas are highly respected in the Academic community and has a higher degree of credibility than the pretenders you quote.
 
Pinguin, I am getting tired of your abusiveness and the lack of credible responses.  It's typical of someone with no real credible response to ridicule the person he's debating.
 
"Nothing of what he says corresponds to anything real" back it up,[ with sources, credible ones, facts, not biased, opinionated garbage]
 
Back it up or shut up.
 
Yes. It is pretty easy to get a title of "Doctor" these days in the U.S.
That doesn't change the fact that this fellow born in Suriname is trying to robb the Olmec heritage, which is Amerindian, for his own racial group at the expenses of the Amerindians of Yucatan that are theirs real descendents.
 
For an informed oppinion, read this. Van Sertima is as appreciated by the archaeological comunity like Van Danniken, the one of the green martians :)
 
Robbing Native American Cultures: Van Sertima's Afrocentricity and the Olmecs

by Gabriel Haslip-Viera, Bernard Ortiz de Montellano, and Warren Barbour

CA FORUM ON ANTHROPOLOGY IN PUBLIC

Current Anthropology, Volume 38, Number 3, June 1997, pp 419-441


Reproduced with permission.


Abstract Article Notes Comments Reply References Cited


In 1976, Ivan Van Sertima proposed that New World civilizations were strongly influenced by diffusion from Africa. The first and most important contact, he argued, was between Nubians and Olmecs in 700 B.C., and it was followed by other contacts from Mali in A.D. 1300. This theory has spread widely in the African-American community, both lay and scholarly, but it has never been evaluated at length by Mesoamericanists. This article shows the proposal to be devoid of any foundation. First, no genuine African artifact has ever been found in a controlled archaeological excavation in the New World. The presence of African-origin plants such as the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) or of African genes in New World cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) shows that there was contact between the Old World and the New, but this contact occurred too long ago to have involved any human agency and is irrelevant to Egyptian-Olmec contact. The colossal Olmec heads, which resemble a stereotypical "Negroid," were carved hundreds of years before the arrival of the presumed models. Additionally, Nubians, who come from a desert environment and have long, high noses, do not resemble their supposed "portraits." Claims for the diffusion of pyramid building and mummification are also fallacious. [1]

Abstract Article Notes Comments Reply References Cited


In his 1976 book They Came Before Columbus, Ivan Van Sertima argued that "Negroid" Africans had come to the Americas at various times before the European discovery and had either inspired or influenced the development of the first civilizations to emerge on these continents. Like other pseudoscientific writings that had been published up until that time, the book was either completely ignored or generally dismissed by anthropologists, historians, and other academic professionals. Except for a brief reference by Glyn Daniel (1977), it was never reviewed in any of the professional journals. Daniel, who also reviewed Barry Fell's America B.C. (1976), dismissed it, but neither he nor any other academic professional ever developed a detailed or cogent response to the main thrust of Van Sertima's ideas. As Daniel himself predicted, the book became a profitable venture for both Van Sertima and his publisher. [2]

Readers were apparently attracted by the real mysteries that surrounded the subject: the origins and evolution of civilizations in the Americas. At the same time, the book also received the attention and enthusiastic support of a small but increasingly influential group of "cultural nationalists" in the African-American community. By the late 1980s Van Sertima's ideas were being heartily endorsed by Molefi Asante, one of the gurus of the Afrocentric movement (
Asante 1988:48; 1990:158; 197 n. 43; 1993:136-37; Asante and Matson 1991:15-19). This movement in all its complexity [3] emerged from the cultural nationalism of the 1960s and 1970s with clearly articulated theories of human development that incorporated Van Sertima's ideas on the origins of civilization in the Americas. According to the Afrocentrists, all of the world's early civilizations, including those of ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, India, China, Europe, and the Americas, [4] were created or inspired by racially "black" peoples.

In articulating their claims, the Afrocentrists relied very heavily on the ideas of Cheikh Anta Diop (
1974, 1991), Chancellor Williams (1987), John G. Jackson (1970), George James (1976), and others. [5] These writers reformulated the standard 19th- and early 20th-century European and North American racial concepts in such a way that the Afrocentrists could promote a hegemonic "black" model of human development. In his 1974 book, The African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality, Diop accepted the standard tripartite division of the human species into "Caucasoid," "Negroid," and "Mongoloid" and subdivided the "black race" into persons with predominantly straight or wavy hair, such as the Dravidians of India, and persons with predominantly curly or tightly coiled hair, such as the Ibo of Nigeria (Diop 1974:164-65, 237). In an attempt to incorporate as many groups as possible into the "Negro" category, Diop also accepted the racist Western definition of "blackness" as any degree of "black" or African ancestry. [6] Of course, once these race concepts were reformulated, they could be applied to a reinterpreted history of civilization and human development with predictable results.

Accordingly, civilization was said to have originated with the "black" peoples of the Upper Nile in Ethiopia and the Sudan and to have been transmitted from there to the ancient Egyptians, also defined as "black" regardless of their skin color and their other physical characteristics. From its alleged African homeland, civilization was presumably bequeathed to other "black" peoples throughout the world through either direct contact or indirect diffusion. These alleged "black" recipients included the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia, the Sabaeans of South Arabia, the Elamites of southwestern Iran, the Dravidians of India, the Shang of China, and the Minoans of ancient Crete, among others.
[7] In the case of the Americas, a more complicated scenario had to be advanced in order to account for the relative isolation of these continents and the geographical obstacles posed by the Atlantic and the Pacific. This scenario, developed most completely by Van Sertima, was incorporated into the emerging Afrocentric view by the late 1980s. [8]

According to Van Sertima's hypothesis, the Nubian rulers of ancient Egypt (25th dynasty, 712-664 B.C.) organized an expedition with the help of the Phoenicians to obtain various commodities, including iron, from sources on the Atlantic coast of North Africa, Europe, and the British Isles during the late 8th or early 7th century B.C. This expedition allegedly sailed from the Nile Delta or the Levant across the Mediterranean, through the Pillars of Hercules, and down the Atlantic coast of North Africa, where it was caught in some current or storm that sent it across the Atlantic to the Americas. Following the prevailing wind and ocean currents, the expedition allegedly sailed or drifted westward from some unspecified location in the eastern Caribbean or the Bahamas to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, where it came into contact with the receptive but inferior Olmecs. According to the scenario at this point, the Olmecs presumably accepted the leaders of the Nubian/Egyptian expedition as their rulers ("black warrior dynasts"), and these individuals, in turn, created, inspired, or influenced the creation of the Olmec civilization, which in turn influenced Monte Albán, Teotihuacan, the Classic Maya, and all the other Mesoamerican civilizations that followed.
[9]

In Van Sertima's scenario, the Nubians became the models for the colossal stone heads which the Olmecs produced in the years that followed the alleged contact. They also presided over a mixed crew of voyagers that included Egyptians, Phoenicians, and "several women." The Nubians subsequently provided the impetus for the building of pyramids and ceremonial centers and introduced a number of technological innovations and practices (mummification, cire-perdue metallurgy, the symbolic use of purple murex dye, weaving, etc.) which presumably influenced Mesoamerican religion, mythology, customs, and even the calendar. This is an enormous number of claims, and several large volumes would be needed to deal with all of them. In this essay we will discuss the evidence that would be most significant if it were true. We will deal elsewhere with Van Sertima's historical methodology, his use of sources, and his writings on iconography and linguistics (
Ortiz de Montellano, Haslip-Viera, and Barbour 1997).

Van Sertima (
1992a:16; 1992c:65; 1995:73) occasionally says that the Olmecs were not pure Africans or that the African voyagers only influenced and were not the main catalyst for the rise of civilization in the Americas, but these disclaimers are merely pro forma. The cumulative total of his claims amounts to a decisive influence on most aspects of the Olmec culture (religion, language, pyramids, customs, weaving, metalworking, dyeing, etc.). If the Nubians were not "godlike" or superior, why would the Olmecs on short acquaintance put forth the herculean efforts required to transport and carve their likenesses in basalt? If the Nubians were not superior, why would most of Van Sertima's followers attribute the "sudden" rise of the Olmecs to Egypto-Nubian influences? [10]

Van Sertima also claimed that "black Africans" made other journeys to the Americas at various times after the 7th century B.C. The most important of these alleged voyages was that of Abu-Bakari II, the Mandingo emperor of Mali, in A.D. 1311. According to Van Sertima, Abu-Bakari embarked from some unspecified location on the western coast of his dominions (Senegambia) with a large fleet of ships and sailed across the Atlantic to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, where his expedition came into contact with the peoples of the Vera Cruz region, the Valley of Mexico, and the Valley of Oaxaca. These peoples were profoundly influenced by Abu-Bakari and his Mandingo agents in the areas of technology, religion, and the arts in the period after contact was established.

In the years since the publication of They Came Before Columbus, Van Sertima has revised his hypothesis only slightly and with great reluctance. For example, in the early 1980s he pushed hack the date for the earliest possible contact between the Olmecs and the Egypto-Nubians to the early 10th century B.C. in an attempt to account for the revised dates established for the origins of Olmec civilization at that time (see
Coe and Diehl 1980, Rust and Sharer 1988), The revised chronology was also used by Van Sertima to claim that the Nubians had had a strong influence over the Egyptians from the early 11th to the middle of the 7th century B.C. (Van Sertima 1992c:60-61, 67, 69). [11] More recently, he has grudgingly accepted the Olmec chronology by emphasizing the alleged importance of the "black-Egyptian" in pharaonic society and by claiming that "the black African . . . played a dominant role in the Old World at either end of the dating equation, be it 1200 B.C. or 700 B.C." (Van Sertima 1992b:38-39; 1995:74, 76). [12]

Van Sertima has nurtured a coterie of enthusiastic supporters among the Afrocentrists and the cultural nationalists in general.
[13] These individuals are inclined to promote his concepts as historical truths. They have also launched impassioned attacks against the academic establishment for not supporting Van Sertima's and other questionable theories. [14] The recent publication of one of his essays by the Smithsonian Institution Press (Van Sertima 1995) has conferred some academic respectability on his views, and he has been praised by St. Clair Drake (1987:312) and Manning Marable (1991:22), two non-Afrocentric scholars with considerable reputations. His hypothesis has become almost an article of faith within the African-American community. It is taught across the country in African-American and Africana studies programs that use Maulana Karenga's Introduction to Black Studies (1993) and similar texts. It is taught in the large urban school districts that have adopted Afrocentric curricula (Clarke 1989; Kunjufu 1987a,b; see also Ortiz de Montellano 1991, 1995). The presumably "Negroid" Olmec heads have become staples of African-American historical museums and exhibitions. It is therefore no wonder that students in colleges and universities across the country are mystified by the dismissive statements occasionally uttered by academic professionals when Van Sertima's ideas are discussed. African-American students, in particular, have not been impressed by the abbreviated critiques that have been published thus far. They are also generally suspicious of the academic establishment, with its record of "neglect" and "distortion" with regard to Africa, and have called for a detailed response to Van Sertima's ideas. This article is an attempt to address the issues articulated by students and concerned educators with regard to the validity of Van Sertima's hypotheses and the failure of the academic establishment to confront them in a systematic way. It is important for anthropologists and archaeologists to deal with this question because of its prevalence and because it diminishes the real accomplishments of Native American cultures. As Robert Sharer and Wendy Ashmore (1979:45) put it, "Archaeology has a responsibility to prevent pseudo-archaeologists from robbing humanity of the real achievements of past cultures." This essay will examine Van Sertima's claims to determine whether they have any validity or foundation in the evidence that has been collected thus far by scholars in the humanities and the social and physical sciences.

It is necessary to limit our discussion here to the most important claims and the most convincing types of evidence. Authentic artifacts found in controlled archaeological excavations provide absolute proof of contact; however, no such artifact of African origin has ever been found in the New World, The archaeological discovery of nonnative plants can also provide good evidence of contact. Van Sertima's crucial claim deals with the influence of the alleged Nubian/Egyptian visitors of the 25th dynasty on the Olmec culture, because at this time and in this culture a number of definitive Mesoamerican traits presumably appear. If Van Sertima and others are correct, Mesoamerican civilization owes a great debt to Egypt. If the idea of Egyptian contact with the Olmecs is invalid, then other claims by Van Sertima and his colleagues are greatly weakened. For example, the proposed A.D. 1311 expedition from Mali to Mexico, even if it were true, would be less meaningful because the most significant Mesoamerican cultural traits (worldview, calendars, deities, etc.) can clearly be shown to have been present prior to that time, and this violates a cardinal rule in the classic diffusionist argument - that the diffused traits must be present in the donor culture and absent in the recipient culture prior to the presumed contact.

For the most part, our arguments will deal with this presumed earliest contact, because only contact at this stage of development might have been able to have a real impact on Mesoamerican cultures. There is still some question whether Egyptian contact with the Gulf Olmecs would have been sufficient to achieve this impact. Although some scholars (
Diehl and Coe 1995) still argue that the Gulf Olmecs represent the "mother culture" of Mesoamerica, others, among them Flannery and Marcus (1994:389), prefer the term "sister cultures" because it is clear that parallel developments were taking place in other regions of Mesoamerica. Clark (1991; Clark and Blake 1994) claims that the Mesoamerican tradition began among the Mokaya of the Soconusco region of Chiapas, who by 1650 B.C. were the first to reach a chiefdom level [15] and who influenced the subsequent Gulf Olmecs. Flannery and Marcus (1994:385-90) show that the 8°-west-of-true-north orientation of ceremonial buildings and the use of stucco at La Venta and elsewhere appeared first in Oaxaca between 1650 and 1520 B.C. Grove (1989) has proposed that much of the iconography of the Early Formative is merely the first representation in ceramics of a body of beliefs shared by the common ancestors of many Formative societies. Marcus (1991) claims that the earliest dated stone monuments appeared not in the Gulf Olmec zone but in the Zapotec region of Oaxaca. [16] Nevertheless, we will deal with the Gulf Olmecs because we agree with Tolstoy (1989:289) that by San Lorenzo times they "had reached a point on the evolutionary scale that was beyond that at which San José (Oaxaca) or Tlatilco (Central Mexico) can be placed." During the Early Formative (1793-1011 B.C.) many of the definitive Mesoamerican traits were present both in the Gulf Coast Olmec and in other contemporaneous cultures. Because relatively little information is available about the Olmecs, Van Sertima is able to make iconographic claims which, if made for the Aztecs, could be unequivocally disproved on the basis of texts and codices gathered after the conquest.

The Colossal Olmec Heads

The main pieces of evidence presented by Van Sertima are the monumental carved basalt Olmec heads. To a lay observer, it seems at first glance that these grey, "black"-looking heads, with their thick lips and flat noses, must be images of Africans. This impression makes the other claims appear to be support for an obvious conclusion. However, this is a fundamental error. The people claimed by Van Sertima and other Afrocentrists to have influenced the Olmecs (and to be the models for the heads) are Nubians or Egyptians, that is, North and East Africans, whereas the slave ancestors of African-Americans came primarily from tropical West Africa. These groups are very different and do not look alike.
[17] Flat noses are particularly inappropriate as racial markers, because the shape of the nose is primarily a function of climatic factors such as the ambient temperature and the moisture content of the air.


FIG. 1. Kpeda man from Benin. (Photo West Africa Study Trip/
Guerin Montilus.)



FIG. 2. Adja men from Benin. (Photo West Africa Study Trip/
Guerin Montilus.)


One of the functions of the nose is to moisten the air before it goes to the lungs. In areas where the air is very dry, such as deserts, a larger mucous area is required to moisten inspired air, and this necessitates a longer and narrower nose (Molnar 1983:71-73). Both the Olmecs and the West African ancestors of African-Americans have short, flat noses because they lived in wet, tropical areas; Nubians and Egyptians have longer, thinner noses because they have lived in a desert. [18] Comparison of figures 1 and 2 with figures 3-5 reveals that although these two groups differ in the shape of the nose and the lips, both are dolichocephalic and prognathous. Most of the colossal Olmec heads are not; only 3 of the 17 Olmec heads show a degree of prognathism.


FIG. 3. Nubian from Koyekka. (Photo Friedrich W. Hinkel.)

FIG. 4. Nubian woman. (Photo Friedrich W. Hinkel.)



FIG. 5. Nubian from the village of Semna. (Photo Friedrich W. Hinkel.)


Figures 6-9 clearly show that these heads do not resemble Nubians (having flat noses, thick lips, and epicanthic-folded eyelids and lacking dolichocephaly or prognathism) or, for that matter, West Africans (having epicanthic folds and lacking dolichocephaly or prognathism).


FIG. 6. Monument 5, San Lorenzo, front and rear views. (Drawing by Felipe Dávalos, reprinted from Coe and Diehl [
1980], courtesy of Michael D. Coe.)

FIG. 7. Monument 5, San Lorenzo, side views. (Drawing by Felipe Dávalos, reprinted from Coe and Diehl [
1980], courtesy of Michael D. Coe.)



FIG. 8. Monument 17, San Lorenzo, front and rear views. (Drawing by Felipe Dávalos, reprinted from Coe and Diehl [
1980], courtesy of Michael D. Coe.)

FIG. 9. Monument 17, San Lorenzo, side views. (Drawing by Felipe Dávalos, reprinted from Coe and Diehl [
1980], courtesy of Michael D. Coe.)


The people represented in the Olmec sculptures had short, round, flat faces with thick lips, flat noses, and epicanthic folds; that is, they resembled people who still live m the tropical lowlands of Mexico (see figs. 10 and 11).


FIG. 10. Woman from Olmec area. (Photo Donald Corddry, reprinted from Bernal [
1968].)

FIG. 11. Tzotzil from Chiapas. (Photo B Reyes, reprinted from Morley [
1947].)


Van Sertima (1992b, 1995) places great emphasis on Tres Zapotes head 2 (also known as the Nestepe or Tuxtla head) [19] because it has seven braids dangling from the back, which he claims (1992c:57; 1994:296, fig. 1c), citing no supporting evidence, to be a characteristically Ethiopian hairstyle. [20] He also asserts that the braids are "probably the best hidden secret in Mesoamerican archaeology" (1992b:37), that the "head was never published outside of Mexico" (1992a:7), and that "this photograph was kept in the dark (and I think the blackout was deliberate)" (1992b:38; 1995:74). [21] To support his claim (1992c:37; 1995:74) he quotes the Mexican Olmec scholar Beatriz de la Fuente, who states, "If at any time, one could imagine that there were Negroes in Mesoamerica, it would be after seeing Head 2 of Tres Zapotes, the one that is most removed from the physiognomy of our Indian ancestors" (de la Fuente 1971:58, our translation). [22] However, he overlooks her comment on the next page that "certainly the colossal heads do not represent individuals of the Negro or Ethiopian race as José Melgar, the first Westerner to see one more than a hundred years ago, supposed. We have to agree that in them are recorded, on a heroic scale, the ethnic characteristics of the ancient inhabitants of Mesoamerica, characteristics that are still preserved in some contemporaneous natives" (de la Fuente 1971:59, our translation). [23]

Archaeological Evidence

Some Olmec heads are dark not because they represent black people but because they were made of dark stone.
[24] If Luckert (1976:41-49, 70-76, 90-107) is correct and the Olmecs associated volcanoes with rain and fertility, then volcanic rocks (basalt, jade, and serpentine) would have had symbolic importance and would have been appropriate for important sculptures. These heads represent an enormous amount of work, having been transported from quarries as much as 70 kilometers away without the use of wheels or beasts of burden and then carved with stone tools, bronze and iron being unknown. The implication that Afrocentrists draw from this is that the Egyptian civilization was so superior that the Olmecs regarded its "black" representatives almost as gods and dropped whatever they were doing to devote enormous effort over many years to quarrying, transporting, and carving their likenesses.

Van Sertima's description of the contact between the Nubian-Egyptians and the Olmecs makes it appear as if the Olmec civilization arose suddenly after the period in question. However, the civilization of the Olmecs had a long period of gestation in situ. San Lorenzo was occupied from the beginning of the Formative, 1793 B.C. (
Coe and Diehl 1980), and La Venta was occupied from 1658 B.C. onward (Rust and Sharer 1988), San Lorenzo flourished from 1428 to 1011 B.C. (1200-900 b.c.), a period characterized by three-dimensional monumental sculptures including the colossal heads (Coe and Diehl 1980, vol.1:395-96). There was also a San Lorenzo phase at La Venta, 1150-800 B.C., during which monumental sculpture was produced. La Venta rose to prominence during the Middle Formative, 905-400 B.C., a period characterized by low-relief sculptures.

Although the exact dating of the colossal heads is a complex matter, they pose a serious chronological problem for Van Sertima's hypothesis. To date, 17 heads have been found, 10 in San Lorenzo, 4 in La Venta, 2 in Tres Zapotes, and 1 in Cobata (Cyphers 1995:16). The majority of the heads in San Lorenzo were found in a ravine where they were deposited by erosion, have no clear stratigraphic association, and were dated by iconographic cross-ties. However, 16 other monuments had stratigraphic associations placing them in the final stages of the San Lorenzo B phase (1011 B.C.), and therefore Coe and Diehl (
1980, vol. 1:294-95; Coe, Diehl, and Struiver 1967) conclude that these heads cannot be younger than 1011 B.C. [25] However, San Lorenzo heads 6, 7, and 8 have original placements. Ann Cyphers has radiocarbon-dated the undisturbed context of head 7 and found it to be older than 1011 B.C. She concludes on the basis of the uniformity of sculpting technique and style that all these heads fall within the Early Formative (personal communication, 1995). A number of Olmec heads may be even older than they seem. Porter (1989) has good evidence that many were made by recarving massive thrones and speculates that a ruler's throne was recarved into his image after his death.

The excavators of La Venta also considered the heads to belong to the Early Formative, that is, earlier than 1011 B.C. (
Holleman, Ambro, and O'Connell 1968), although this cannot be proven because they were relocated to a Middle Formative context. Lowe (1989:43) states that many Olmec specialists consider most or all of the colossal heads (at San Lorenzo, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, Cobata) to have been made in the Early Formative. De la Fuente (1971:11, our translation) speaks of "a point that everyone who has dealt with the problem agrees on: all the heads were carved during a relatively short period that varies between one hundred and, at the most, two hundred years." [26] Because it is impossible to date all the heads unequivocally, one cannot prove that the San Lorenzo, La Venta, and Tres Zapotes heads were contemporaneous. They might have been sequential, and carving might have extended into the Middle Formative. However, Cypher's definitive dating of San Lorenzo head 7 proves that "Negroid-looking" heads were being carved, mutilated, and buried between 1428 and 1011 B.C., that is, prior to 1200 B.C. and centuries before the alleged arrival of Van Sertima's Nubian voyagers.

Van Sertima's postulated crew included Phoenicians because of their sailing expertise and because he had identified a carved portrait of a "Phoenician merchant captain" on a stela at La Venta (
Van Sertima 1976: pl. 22). Unfortunately, this "Phoenician" could not have been a shipmate of the Nubians (in 1200 or 700 B.C.), because sculpted stela were produced during the Middle Formative period, several hundred years later than the colossal heads (Lowe 1989:63-67).

In addition to seeing "Negroid" traits in the Olmec stone heads, Van Sertima tries to establish parallels between the pyramid complexes of the Nile Valley and the mounds or platform structures at La Venta. References are made to the "north-south" orientation of "pyramids," to "step pyramids," to their astronomical alignment, to the dual function of "pyramids" as both "tomb and temple," to a system of drains, moats, and "sacred pools," to the complex of walls which surrounded the ceremonial precincts, and to the "fact" that the Olmec "pyramid" complexes appear for the first time during the alleged contact period (
Van Sertima 1976:32, 33, 155, 156; 1992a:12-13, 15; 1992b:48; 1992c:60, 76-79; 1995:87-89). In drawing these parallels Van Sertima is suggesting that the Olmecs were influenced by Egyptian and Nubian architecture, but the evidence from the archaeological sites themselves fails to support this assertion in several important ways.

For example, large pyramids were not being built in Egypt or in Nubia at the end of the 13th century B.C.; the great age of pyramid building had ended much earlier. The last step pyramid was built in 2680 B.C., and the last large regular pyramid was Khenjefer's (ca. 1777 B.C.). In 1200 B.C. the Egyptians either buried their dead in secret, as was the case with all the pharaohs of this period, or constructed small tombs that might incorporate small, pointed pyramids into their overall design. All of these tombs, such as those at Deir el Medina, were quite small, and none of them were more than about 20 ft. in height (
Edwards 1985 [1947]:225-30, 232-34; see also Fakhry 1961:251-53; Lepre 1990). [27]

The evidence for Van Sertima's other presumed contact period (the late 8th and early 7th century B.C.) is likewise problematical or nonexistent. The Egyptians continued to bury their dead in secret or constructed the same kinds of diminutive tombs with small pointed pyramids that they had built in the 13th century B.C. In Nubia pyramids were built for the first time at El Kurru in 751 B.C. (
Fakhry 1961:251-53), but these structures were also quite small and bore no resemblance to the rectangular, oval, or conical mounds or platform structures built by the Olmecs. Like their Egyptian counterparts of the same period, the Nubian pyramids were generally tall and pointed, with an average slope of 60-70° and an average base of 30-40 sq. ft. The Nubian pyramids were also connected to small Egyptian-style mortuary temples, which faced southeast, in contradiction to Van Sertima's claim that all such structures had a "north-south" orientation. The Nubian pyramids were also built with "gravel," "sandstone," and "solid stone masonry" and contained burial chambers in which were found figurines, painted mortuary scenes, written texts, and other artifacts in the Egyptian and Egypto-Nubian style (Edwards 1985:235, 236-39; Adams 1984:256-57, 266-67, 278-85; Dunham 1950). In contrast, the Olmec structures were built of different layers of carefully selected earth and clay in various colors and were apparently used primarily for ceremonial and religious rituals rather than for the burial of the dead. They also lack any evidence of figurines, painted mortuary scenes, written texts, or any other artifact in the Egyptian or Egypto-Nubian style.

The Olmec mounds or platform structures of the Middle Formative were relatively large compared with the Nubian pyramids of the same period. At La Venta they were mostly 200-400-sq. ft. rectangular structures with sloping sides and flat tops, which apparently served as platforms for temples and other structures made of thatch or some other perishable material. There were also courtyards, plazas with palisades, and circular, oval, or pentagonal mounds, but none of these structures resembled the Nubian pyramids and their affiliated buildings. The La Venta stepped pyramid, although deeply eroded and conelike, is 120 ft. high and has a base diameter of 420 ft. (
Heizer 1968; Soustelle 1985[1979]:33). Van Sertima continues to use an old photograph of an outdated reconstruction of this edifice to insist that it was a four-sided pyramid comparable to those built by the ancient Egyptians and Nubians (Van Sertima 1995:88, fig. 3-16; Diehl 1981:76-78, 79-80; see also Lowe 1989). [28]

Hyperdiffusionists often complain that Establishment scholars dogmatically refuse to admit that pre-Columbian contacts occurred at all, but this is not the case. It is now generally accepted that Vikings came to the New World about A.D. 1044 (
Davies 1979:229-30; Morison 1971; Stiebing 1984:159-62; Wilson 1992). This acceptance is based on several genuine Scandinavian artifacts found by Ingstad in a well-conducted archaeological dig at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, and dated to approximately A.D. 1044 (Ingstad 1964, 1969), The archaeological discoveries at L'Anse aux Meadows validated the sagas of Leif Eriksson and Bjarni Herjolfsson describing their round-trip expeditions to the New World, which scholars had regarded skeptically prior to archaeological corroboration (Morison 1971). There are no such written records of the return of any expedition from Africa to the New World. Van Sertima (1976:77) dismisses the Viking contact: "The Vikings brought no new plant, influenced no act, introduced no ritual, left no identifiable trace of their blood in the Native Americans. Like waves, they broke for a moment on alien sands and then receded." What must be remembered is that not a single authentic African artifact has ever been found in a controlled archaeological context, and therefore the evidence for a Viking presence in pre-Columbian America is much stronger than all the supposed claims for a Nubian or African influence. Furthermore, if in fact all we had was an African site comparable to L'Anse aux Meadows, there would be little interest in Afrocentric circles for writing books about it. Their political agenda is not just to show that Africans arrived in the New World sometime in the past [29] but that, being a superior civilization, they deeply influenced the native cultures. When two cultures meet there is a reciprocal exchange of words, foods, and customs, [30] but one searches in vain for examples in Van Sertima of Nahuatl words or Mesoamerican beliefs in African cultures. He does argue for a pre-Columbian introduction of maize into Africa (Van Sertima 1976:240-50; 1995), but given the speed with which maize and cassava became staples after the Portuguese introduced them into Africa, a pre-Columbian introduction should have produced a much wider distribution and importance than what Van Sertima claims.

Botanical Evidence

If no genuine artifacts are found, the next most credible evidences for contacts between peoples are plants, but, as in all these diffusionist arguments, the temporal sequence must be correct; the plant in question must be shown to have been used or domesticated earlier in the proposed place of origin than in the proposed destination. This is not the case for African plants. Baker (
1970:62) summarizes his discussion of possible contacts thus: "On present evidence it can hardly be said that cultivated plants of the New World provide a foundation for the belief that there were important cultural exchanges between the Americas and the Old World in pre-Columbian days." A volume devoted specifically to the question of pre-Columbian contacts, in which a number of proponents of contact (including several upon whom Van Sertima relied for botanical evidence) participated, concludes as follows: "The consensus of botanical evidence given in the symposium seems to be that there is no hard and fast evidence for any pre-Columbian introduction of any single plant or animal across the ocean from the Old World to the New World or vice-versa. This is emphatically not to say that it could not have occurred" (Riley et al. 1971:452-53).

The situation with regard to the evidence has not changed since 1971. By A.D. 1400, Africans were growing five sets of domesticated crops: (1) plants first domesticated in the Near East, which were grown in North Af
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 13:22
I still dont see how this disproves the possiblilty of African trade in the New World.

Edited by Strange - 14-Jul-2007 at 13:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 13:37

How?

It is not a matter of disprove it. The opposite is what you need. It is a matter of proving it!
 
Any crazy fellow can claim anything. The fantasies has to be proven. There is NOT A SINGLE proof of contact with Africans. Even more, there is lot of evidence there was not contact at all.
 
Come on. West Africans didn't even colonize Cape Verde :) :) They lacked the sail! Actually Amerindians were more advanced than them in navigation.
 
This afrolunacy is just a stupid theory to rise the pride in A.A. schools that has no ground on reality.
 
It is not an innocent theory, though, because it is robbing the heritage of an Amerindian people that own its in justice.
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2007 at 13:46

Why would they want to colonize Cape Verde anyway? its a palce that lacks resources and  good rainfall. Come on Think about it. And how can you disprove the lingual evidence that Coloumbus recorded himself?

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