Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day?

Why do we celebrate the man who stopped in the Bahamas and refused to ask for directions?  Not only that, but in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary... insisted he was in Asia.

San Salvador, or Guanahani in the native Taino tongue is most likely the island in the Bahamas that Christopher Columbus visited. A very important discovery, for without Christopher Columbus

 cruise ships wouldn't have anywhere to go.

But was he the first?

Setting aside those who walked here some 14,000 years ago there are many candidates.  

Brendan the Navigator (512-530)

One candidate for discovery is the Irishman known as Brendan the Navigator.  While no one knows where Brendan went, Tim Severin demonstrated in the 70's that it was possible to sail across the Atlantic in an Irish currach (a boat made out of hide).



Erik the Red (980)

It's pretty much settled that there was a Norse settlement of 3000-5000 people in Greenland at L'Anse aux Meadows. The church below at Hvalsey had a documented wedding occuring there in 1408


More interesting

A Roman head confirmed to be Roman work dating to the 2nd to 3rd century dug up Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca region of the Toulaca Valley 65 kilometers southwest of Mexico City.  The head was discovered buried under a building dating to 1476.

(C) Romeo H. Hristov

The Olmec civilization flourished in Mexico from about 1500 BC until around 400 BC.  Noted for producing colossal statuary heads, some of which have distinctive, non-native American features, including those believed to be both African

and Asian

From Peruvian mummies treated with the resin from the Monkey Puzzle tree (native to Oceania) and dated to 1200 AD, to the fact that when Europeans reached Polynesia, the Polynesians had sweet potatoes (native to the Americas) and sweet potatoes had been around Polynesia since about 700 AD (Sweet potato remains have been radio-carbon dated to around 1000 AD in the Cook Islands).

Stories of past visits true or not, it was the voyages of Columbus that opened the New World to the main European exploration and colonization of the continent.

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