Posted by: Khepera | Saturday, 1 May 2010

Aborigines were the first Americans?


Here’s another one from the ED archives…

The source &/or origin of those who migrated to the Americas, and subsequently populated them has been a topic of discussion — and conjecture — for decades, if not centuries. Among indigenous people, you are where you are, since it is anticipated that all people live in harmony with Nature, and the planet. We now know this is not true of all groups.  The Western penchant for separation and categorization has fueled a series of scientific enquiries into this question, and the results are both significant and amazing.

There are several links provided in this post to other sources for this info, starting with the source of the title Aborigines were the first Americans, Sarah Toynes article from the London Times.  This info was also presented that same year in a BBC documentary of the same name.  The discoveries which led to this premise are intriguing, to say the least. However, there are some social dynamics at work we should be aware of as we follow the trail of this supposed mystery.

Firstly, evidence of a prehistoric(in european terms) African presence in Brasil is by no means new.  This was some of the earliest information indicating that the prevailing premise of migrations from Asia, across the Bering Strait, was not the end all be all conclusion, as it had been held for decades.  Not unlike the challenges facing those studying ancient Egypt, once the African origin of Nile Valley civilizations was recognized as most likely, all sorts of ‘other’ explanations began cropping up, from Atlantis to extraterrestrials.  Similarly, once the now famous Luzia skull was found, efforts to characterize the migrations into South America as aboriginal, from Australia, began to arise.  This Luzia skull, that of a young woman, from about 12000 years ago, like so many artifacts of indigenous antiquity, was dismissed, and given away to the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, where it lay for over 20 years.   It should be noted that as far as I know, this skull & skeleton are still the oldest human remains found in the Americas…with the possible exception of the mummies found in Peru. The story of the reconstruction and subsequent study  of the Luzia skull and skeleton is remarkable.  Here is a link to a Reuters/CNN story from 1999 which, interestingly, now no longer shows up in searches on either website: Brazilian fossil bears African features, could challenge theories on settlement. Another source for news reports.

This is the reconstructed face of the first known American, Luzia

“We can no longer say that the first colonizers of the Americas came from the north of Asia, as previous models have proposed,” said Dr. Walter Neves, an anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, who made the initial discovery along with an Argentine colleague, Héctor Pucciarelli. “This skeleton is nearly 2,000 years older than any skeleton ever found in the Americas, and it does not look like those of Amerindians or North Asians.”

When one considers these points, the known history of pre-Columbian African voyages to the Americas is a natural resonance point.  However, to support the Australian premise, the following is offered in the BBC article referenced above:

But how could the early Australians have traveled more than 13,500 kilometres (8,450 miles) at that time? The answer comes from more cave paintings, this time from the Kimberley, a region at the northern tip of Western Australia.

Here, Grahame Walsh, an expert on Australian rock art, found the oldest painting of a boat anywhere in the world. The style of the art means it is at least 17,000 years old, but it could be up to 50,000 years old.

And the crucial detail is the high prow of the boat. This would have been unnecessary for boats used in calm, inland waters. The design suggests it was used on the open ocean.

What I find humorous is, given the previous mention of African voyages to the Americas, in the BBC article, the very next paragraph mentions this:

Archaeologists speculate that such an incredible sea voyage, from Australia to Brazil, would not have been undertaken knowingly but by accident.

Just three years ago, five African fishermen were caught in a storm and a few weeks later were washed up on the shores of South America. Two of the fishermen died, but three made it alive.

So, given the long and documented history of ‘prehistoric’ ocean voyages, these scholars/scientists found themselves unable to ascribe such efforts/accomplishments — with conscious intent — to the aborigines of Australia, or the “Blackfellas” as they refer to themselves.  Yet we are left to wonder why it is so much more plausible for a voyage of nearly 10000 miles across the sea, instead of the relatively short jaunt from the African continent…as evidenced by their own anecdotal reference.  Most dismissed the idea of African voyages to the Americas for centuries, until Thor Heyerdhal came along with The Ra Expeditions.  Now the pattern is playing out again.

That is all for now, but check back as I amend this post over time with other material from the archives…

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