Podcasts de história

Existe a possibilidade de que a civilização islâmica tenha visitado a América antes de Colombo?

Existe a possibilidade de que a civilização islâmica tenha visitado a América antes de Colombo?

Fontes islâmicas afirmam que há evidências históricas de que um explorador islâmico visitou a América antes de Colombo e da Era dos Descobrimentos. Um exemplo. Colombo não foi o primeiro a cruzar o Atlântico. A primeira evidência que este artigo afirma foi durante o domínio islâmico na Espanha.

Há evidências arqueológicas ou literárias independentes que sugerem a possibilidade de exploradores islâmicos terem visitado a América antes da Era dos Descobrimentos?


Colombo não foi, de fato, o primeiro a cruzar o Atlântico. Havia comunidades nórdicas vivendo na Groenlândia desde o século 10. Eles até tinham alguns assentamentos temporários na América do Norte propriamente dita. No entanto, os nórdicos não eram tão bons em sobreviver no Atlântico Norte quanto os inuit e (depois de 500 anos) acabaram sendo exterminados por alguma combinação de seus ataques e mudanças climáticas.

No entanto, isso foi muito antes da imprensa escrita e nos extremos da colonização europeia, então não era muito conhecido na Europa.

Existem várias outras histórias de possíveis travessias transatlânticas. No entanto, nenhum deles deixou a evidência física de que os vikings deixaram, então todos eles são geralmente considerados apenas contos.

Para ser justo, devemos também observar que os povos inuítes regularmente cruzavam a América da Ásia, assim como todos os outros povos indígenas do hemisfério ocidental em algum momento. As cadeias de ilhas entre a Sibéria e o Alasca não são uma barreira para as pessoas acostumadas a viver naquela ecosfera. Também há evidências indiretas de contato da Polinésia com a América do Sul no Pacífico tropical.

O que era importante em Colombo não era sua primazia. Foi quando ele voltou, toda a Europa (e provavelmente os educados de todo o Velho Mundo eventualmente) ouviu sobre isso em detalhes, graças à impressora recentemente inventada. Além disso, a sociedade para a qual ele voltou tinha os meios e a motivação para fazer o acompanhamento. Isso é o que os nórdicos e as pessoas por trás de quaisquer outras histórias fantásticas de travessias do Atlântico que podem ser verdadeiras, não tinham.


Claro, é possível. Muitas coisas são possíveis. Provavelmente, no entanto, é outra questão.

O link que você postou descreve uma vaga história de como navegar para o oeste no Atlântico, encontrar uma ilha, fazer comércio com os habitantes locais e voltar para casa. A ilha poderia estar no Novo Mundo? Poderia, mas também poderia ser uma das ilhas do Atlântico.

Para mim para considerar a história plausível, gostaria de ver um relato da jornada que descreve algo que você só encontraria nas Américas e foi com certeza escrito antes de 1492. Para movê-lo de plausível para provável, Gostaria de ver evidências físicas do contato.


Não há absolutamente nenhuma evidência de que vários califados islâmicos "visitaram a América antes de Colombo".

É claro que a civilização islâmica está presente no Marrocos há 1300 anos e o califado ibérico está presente no sudoeste da Europa há quase 800 anos. Os muçulmanos medievais da grande península ibérica, bem como o Marrocos, teriam conhecido o oceano Atlântico, visto que era o seu quintal (certamente no caso do Marrocos ocidental, assim como da costa portuguesa). No entanto, com toda a probabilidade, o Oceano Atlântico, para os muçulmanos, teria sido apenas isso ... um oceano; um grande curso de água aparentemente eterno, sem povos imagináveis ​​ou terras tangíveis à distância.

Duvido que os muçulmanos medievais soubessem sobre os incas, astecas ou as nações Cherokee e Mohawk na região oriental da América Antiga. Se eles tinham algum conhecimento de sua existência, não parecia ser uma alta prioridade para futura conquista e conversão. No entanto, os muçulmanos medievais teriam conhecimento das Ilhas Canárias (oeste de Marrocos), bem como das regiões costeiras atlânticas da Espanha, França e Grã-Bretanha, embora provavelmente não além da costa da Europa Ocidental. Pelo que eu sei, não existem mapas, escritos de viagens, textos históricos ou outras fontes primárias que documentem, declarem ou esboçam uma expedição muçulmana às Américas durante os tempos medievais. É claro que com os avanços da tecnologia arqueológica, bem como dos Sistemas de Informações Geográficas / SIG, pode-se descobrir um resgate de uma história perdida que comprovaria a existência de tais expedições. No entanto, até que tal descoberta se materialize, não há atualmente nenhuma evidência de que os muçulmanos medievais "visitaram a América antes de Colombo".


Não é tecnicamente impossível, mas extremamente improvável. Thor Heyerdahl provou que os polinésios podiam viajar para a América do Sul. Ainda é uma questão em aberto se eles já fizeram isso.

Alegações de maometanos cruzando o Atlântico eu considero com um grão (leia-se: tonelada) de sal. Reivindicar é bastante fácil. Provar essas afirmações é uma questão muito diferente. Não há absolutamente nenhuma prova em tudo o que eles fizeram.

Isso não quer dizer que não tenha acontecido. Encontramos evidências de que os vikings montaram acampamentos em Newfoundland. Até agora, isso é apenas evidência de que visitaram a América. Não que eles tenham se estabelecido permanentemente. Até que essa prova de mohammedans visitando a América seja encontrada, eu não acho que eles nunca foram lá.


O que não foi mencionado aqui é o mapa de Piri Reis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piri_Reis_map

Usou dez fontes árabes, quatro mapas indianos originários de portugueses e um mapa de Colombo

Se precisos, a maioria dos mapas era anterior à descoberta de Colombo, portanto, alguém "descobriu" a América antes dele, provavelmente alguém da Arábia ou da Índia ...


Não está claro quando os primeiros muçulmanos chegaram à terra que se tornaria os Estados Unidos. Muitos historiadores afirmam que os primeiros muçulmanos vieram da região senegambiana da África no início do século XIV. Acredita-se que fossem mouros, expulsos da Espanha, que se dirigiram ao Caribe e possivelmente ao Golfo do México.

Quando Colombo fez a sua viagem para os Estados Unidos, dizem que levou consigo um livro escrito por muçulmanos portugueses que navegaram até ao Novo Mundo no século XII.

Outros afirmam que havia muçulmanos, principalmente um homem chamado Istafan, que acompanhou os espanhóis como um guia para o Novo Mundo no início do século 16 em sua conquista do que se tornaria o Arizona e o Novo México.

O que está claro é a composição da primeira onda real de muçulmanos nos Estados Unidos: escravos africanos, dos quais 10 a 15% seriam muçulmanos. Manter sua religião era difícil e muitos se converteram à força ao cristianismo. Qualquer esforço para praticar o Islã e manter as roupas e nomes tradicionais vivos tinha que ser feito em segredo. Houve um enclave de afro-americanos na costa da Geórgia que conseguiu manter sua fé até o início do século XX.

Entre 1878 e 1924, imigrantes muçulmanos do Oriente Médio, principalmente da Síria e do Líbano, chegaram em grande número, com muitos se estabelecendo em Ohio, Michigan, Iowa e até mesmo nas Dakotas. Como a maioria dos outros migrantes, eles buscavam maiores oportunidades econômicas do que em sua terra natal e muitas vezes trabalharam como trabalhadores braçais. Um dos primeiros grandes empregadores de muçulmanos e negros foi a Ford Company & mdashthese muitas vezes eram as únicas pessoas dispostas a trabalhar nas condições quentes e difíceis das fábricas.

Ao mesmo tempo, a Grande Migração de negros para o Norte ajudou a encorajar o renascimento do Islã afro-americano e o crescimento do Movimento Nacionalista Muçulmano Afro-Americano que ainda existe até hoje. A esperança permanece em restaurar a cultura e a fé que foram destruídas durante a era da escravidão.

Durante as décadas de 1930 e 40, os imigrantes árabes começaram a estabelecer comunidades e construir mesquitas. Os muçulmanos afro-americanos já haviam construído suas próprias mesquitas e, em 1952, havia mais de 1.000 na América do Norte.

Após 30 anos de exclusão da maioria dos imigrantes, os Estados Unidos abriram suas portas novamente em 1952 e um grupo inteiramente novo de muçulmanos veio de lugares como a Palestina (muitos vieram em 1948 após o estabelecimento de Israel), Iraque e Egito. A década de 1960 viu ondas de muçulmanos do sudeste asiático também se dirigindo à América. Os muçulmanos também vieram da África, Ásia e até da América Latina.

O número estimado de muçulmanos neste país varia, dependendo da fonte. O Conselho Muçulmano Americano afirma 5 milhões, enquanto o apartidário Center for Immigration Studies acredita que o número está mais próximo de 3 a 4 milhões de seguidores do Islã. O American Religious Identification Study da City University of New York, concluído em 2001, colocou o número de muçulmanos em 1.104.000.

Com o passar dos anos, a nação ganhou destaque público devido a membros famosos como Malcolm X e Muhammad Ali. Hoje, existem mais de 1.500 centros islâmicos e mesquitas em todo o país.

Os números variam, mas os especialistas estimam que entre quatro e sete milhões de americanos são muçulmanos.

Espera-se que o Islã em breve seja a segunda maior religião da América. Desde os ataques de 11 de setembro, o preconceito contra os muçulmanos aumentou drasticamente.

Muitos muçulmanos reagiram tornando-se mais ativos no processo político americano, esforçando-se para educar seus vizinhos sobre sua religião e história.


Zheng He da China, descobriu a América em 1418 DC antes de Colombo

Em 1405, um eunuco muçulmano chinês, Zheng He, lançou a primeira de sete viagens para o oeste da China através do Oceano Índico. Durante os próximos 30 anos (até 1445 EC), ele estava no comando da maior frota do mundo, financiada pelo imperador Ming, navegou para a costa leste da África no Golfo Pérsico.
Esta é uma história conhecida. Mas o mapa intitulado “Quadro geral do mundo integrado”, Mostra que ele viajou muito mais para o oeste e até chegou à América, 74 anos antes de Cristóvão Colombo.
Esta é uma cópia do século 18 de um mapa de 1418 dC que afirma mostrar o mundo que Zheng He descobriu.

Este mapa veio à tona no ano de 2001, quando um advogado de Xangai, Liu Gang, alegou tê-lo comprado de um negociante local por cerca de US $ 500. Ele acredita que Zheng navegou nas águas dos dois pólos, nas Américas, no Mediterrâneo e na Austrália também. Em 2003, Gavin Menzies este mapa como evidência para seu livro “1421: o ano em que a China descobriu o mundo”.
O mapa mostra dois hemisférios do mundo, uma convenção para representar a Terra redonda em papel plano. Os contornos da América do Norte e do Sul são claros, assim como os rios que correm do interior. Ártico, Himalaia, entre cujos sopés Zheng He nasceu, são marcadas como a cordilheira mais alta do mundo.
Os continentes são reconhecíveis. Alguns aspectos são caracteristicamente chineses: as ondas azuis em forma de leque fazem parte da tradição cartográfica da China, assim como as anotações com descrições textuais de lugares.

Os europeus não querem acreditar neste mapa, pois apenas seus mapas tinham esses detalhes.
Os marinheiros europeus levaram muitos anos para viajar pelo mundo e fazer esses mapas, enquanto Zheng He o fez em 30 anos.
Além disso, o Ártico aparece pela primeira vez em um mapa chinês Ming apenas em 1593 CE.
Embora Colombo e Zheng He navegassem pelos mares, seus propósitos eram bem diferentes. A missão de Colombo era comercial, a diplomática de Zheng He: ele foi enviado para trazer enviados de outros países para homenagear o novo imperador Yongle, que usurpou o poder de seu sobrinho e precisava encontrar uma maneira de afirmar sua legitimidade.

Com o fim da vida de Zheng He, as explorações da China em alto mar também terminaram. Nessa época, havia um novo imperador com menos necessidade de financiar expedições caras. Durante as centenas de anos seguintes, a China girou amplamente sobre si mesma.
Os europeus continuam suas expedições e registram sua história, enquanto os chineses permanecem em suas terras.
Mas o fato de que os índios foram os primeiros a desembarcar nas Américas e aí desenvolver uma civilização, foi registrado nos puranas, mas negligenciado pelos historiadores.


Trecho: 'Quem foi o primeiro?'

Leia um trecho de Quem foi o primeiro? por Russell Freedman:

Antes de colombo

Por muito tempo, a maioria das pessoas acreditou que Cristóvão Colombo foi o primeiro explorador a "descobrir" a América - o primeiro a fazer uma viagem de ida e volta bem-sucedida através do Atlântico. Mas nos últimos anos, à medida que novas evidências surgiram, nossa compreensão da história mudou. Sabemos agora que Colombo foi um dos últimos exploradores a chegar às Américas, não o primeiro.

Quinhentos anos antes de Colombo, um ousado bando de vikings liderado por Leif Eriksson pôs os pés na América do Norte e estabeleceu um assentamento. E muito antes disso, dizem alguns estudiosos, as Américas parecem ter sido visitadas por viajantes marítimos da China e, possivelmente, por visitantes da África e até mesmo da Europa da Idade do Gelo.

Uma lenda popular sugere um evento adicional: de acordo com um antigo manuscrito, um bando de monges irlandeses liderados por São Brendan navegou em um barco de couro de boi para o oeste no século VI em busca de novas terras. Depois de sete anos, eles voltaram para casa e relataram que haviam descoberto uma terra coberta por uma vegetação luxuriante, que algumas pessoas hoje acreditam ter sido a Terra Nova.

Desde o início, é claro, os dois continentes que agora chamamos de América do Norte e do Sul já haviam sido "descobertos". Antes da chegada dos exploradores europeus, as Américas eram o lar de dezenas de milhões de povos nativos. Embora esses grupos nativos americanos diferissem muito uns dos outros, todos eles realizavam rituais e cerimônias, canções e danças, que traziam de volta à mente e ao coração memórias dos ancestrais que vieram antes deles e lhes deram seu lugar na Terra.

Quem foram os ancestrais desses nativos americanos? De onde vieram, quando chegaram às Américas e como fizeram suas jornadas épicas?

À medida que cavamos cada vez mais fundo no passado, descobrimos que as Américas sempre foram terras de imigrantes, terras que foram "descobertas" repetidamente por diferentes povos vindos de diferentes partes do mundo ao longo de incontáveis ​​gerações - indo no passado pré-histórico, quando um bando de caçadores da Idade da Pedra pisou pela primeira vez no que realmente foi um Novo Mundo inexplorado.

1. Almirante do Mar Oceano

Cristóvão Colombo estava tendo problemas com sua tripulação. Sua frota de três pequenos veleiros havia deixado as Ilhas Canárias quase três semanas antes, rumo ao oeste através do oceano oceânico desconhecido, como era conhecido o Atlântico. Ele esperava chegar à China ou ao Japão agora, mas ainda não havia sinal de terra.

Nenhum dos marinheiros havia ficado tanto tempo longe da vista da terra e, com o passar dos dias, eles foram ficando cada vez mais inquietos e temerosos. O Mar Oceano também era conhecido como Mar das Trevas. Dizia-se que monstros horríveis se escondiam sob as ondas - serpentes marinhas venenosas e caranguejos gigantes que podiam surgir das profundezas e esmagar um navio junto com sua tripulação. E se a Terra fosse plana, como muitos dos homens acreditavam, eles poderiam cair da borda do mundo e mergulhar naquele abismo de fogo onde o sol se põe no oeste. Além do mais, Colombo era um estrangeiro - um italiano ruivo comandando uma tripulação de durões marinheiros espanhóis - e isso significava que ele não era confiável.

Finalmente, os homens exigiram que Colombo voltasse e voltasse para casa. Quando ele recusou, alguns dos marinheiros murmuraram juntos sobre um motim. Eles queriam matar o almirante jogando-o ao mar. Mas, por enquanto, a crise passou. Colombo conseguiu acalmar seus homens e persuadi-los a serem pacientes por mais algum tempo.

"Estou tendo sérios problemas com a tripulação ... reclamando que eles nunca poderão voltar para casa", escreveu ele em seu diário. "Eles disseram que é insanidade e suicídio da parte deles arriscar a vida seguindo a loucura de um estrangeiro ... Alguns homens de confiança me disseram (e são poucos!) Que se eu persistir em ir em diante, o melhor curso de ação será me jogar no mar alguma noite. "

O tempo todo, Colombo manteve dois conjuntos de toras. Um, que ele guardava em segredo e não mostrava a ninguém, era preciso, registrando a distância realmente percorrida a cada dia. O outro registro, que ele mostrou à sua tripulação, na esperança de tranquilizá-los de que não estavam nem perto do fim do mundo, subestimou deliberadamente os quilômetros que percorreram desde que deixaram a Espanha.

Eles navegaram por mais duas semanas e ainda não viram nada. Houve mais murmúrios de protesto e reclamação da tripulação. Os homens pareciam dispostos a não suportar mais. Em 10 de outubro, Colombo anunciou que daria um casaco de seda fina para o homem que avistasse terras pela primeira vez. Os marinheiros saudaram a oferta com um silêncio taciturno. De que adiantava um casaco de seda no meio do Mar das Trevas?

Mais tarde naquele dia, Colombo avistou um bando de pássaros voando em direção ao sudoeste - um sinal de que a terra estava próxima. Ele ordenou que seus navios seguissem os pássaros.

Na noite seguinte, a lua surgiu no leste pouco antes da meia-noite. Cerca de duas horas depois, às duas horas da manhã. em 12 de outubro, um marinheiro de um dos navios de Colombo, o Pinta, viu um trecho de praia branca e gritou: "Terra! Terra!" e disparou um canhão. Ao amanhecer, os três navios lançaram âncora nas águas calmas e azuis perto da costa. Eles haviam chegado a uma ilha no que hoje chamamos de Bahamas.

Membros da tripulação empolgados lotaram os conveses. As pessoas estavam na praia, esperando para cumprimentá-los. Os nativos não tinham armas além de lanças de pesca de madeira e estavam praticamente nus. Quem eram essas pessoas? E que lugar era esse?

Colombo supôs que sua frota tivesse desembarcado em uma das muitas ilhas que Marco Polo relatou situar-se perto da costa da Ásia. Devem ter chegado às Índias, pensou ele - ilhas supostamente próximas da Índia e conhecidas hoje como Índias Orientais. Então ele decidiu que aquelas pessoas na praia deveriam ser "índios", nome pelo qual são conhecidas desde então. A China e o Japão, acreditava ele, ficavam um pouco mais ao norte.

Embora Cristóvão Colombo fosse um italiano nascido em Gênova, ele viveu durante anos em Portugal, onde trabalhou como livreiro, cartógrafo e marinheiro. Ele havia navegado em viagens portuguesas até a Islândia no Atlântico Norte e descendo a costa da África no Atlântico Sul. Durante seus dias no mar, ele leu livros sobre história, geografia e viagens.

Como a maioria das pessoas instruídas da época, Colombo acreditava que a Terra era redonda - não plana, como alguns ignorantes ainda insistiam. O mar oceano era visto como uma grande extensão de água em torno da massa de terra da Eurásia e da África, que se estendia da Europa, no oeste, até a China e o Japão, no longínquo leste. Se um navio deixasse a costa da Europa, navegasse para o oeste em direção ao sol poente e circulasse o globo, alcançaria as costas da Ásia - ou assim pensou Colombo.

No passado, exploradores e comerciantes europeus haviam feito a rota terrestre para o Extremo Oriente, com suas preciosas sedas e especiarias. Eles viajaram por meses a cavalo e camelo ao longo da Rota da Seda, uma antiga trilha de caravanas que cruzava desertos e escalava picos de montanhas vertiginosas. Marco Polo havia seguido a Rota da Seda em sua famosa viagem à China dois séculos antes. Mas recentemente, essa rota terrestre para a Ásia, controlada em parte pelos turcos, foi fechada para os europeus. E, de qualquer forma, Colombo estava convencido de que poderia encontrar uma rota mais fácil e rápida para a Ásia navegando para o oeste.

Naqueles anos, circulavam muitas histórias sobre a possibilidade de navegar diretamente da Europa para a Ásia, ideia considerada pela primeira vez pelos antigos gregos. Colombo possuía um livro chamado Imago Mundi, ou Imagem do mundo, por um estudioso francês, Pierre d'Ailly, que argumentou que o Oceano Mar não era tão largo quanto parecia e que um navio movido por ventos favoráveis ​​poderia cruzá-lo em poucos dias. Ao lado dessa passagem na margem do livro, Colombo havia escrito: "Não há razão para pensar que o oceano cobre metade da terra."

Em 1484, ele propôs seu plano ousado de navegar para o oeste em direção à China ao rei João II de Portugal, um monarca que prestara muita atenção à descoberta de novas terras. Portugal era a principal potência marítima da Europa. Exploradores portugueses em busca de escravos, marfim e ouro já haviam descoberto ricos reinos e rios colossais na África Ocidental e logo alcançariam o Cabo da Boa Esperança, no extremo sul da África. De lá, eles poderiam navegar pelo Oceano Índico até as famosas Ilhas das Especiarias, no sudeste da Ásia.

O rei João ouviu o que Colombo tinha a dizer e, em seguida, submeteu o plano do marinheiro italiano a um comitê de cartógrafos, astrônomos e geógrafos. Os ilustres especialistas declararam que a Ásia deve estar muito mais longe do que Colombo pensava. Eles disseram que nenhuma expedição poderia ter comida e água suficientes para navegar por uma extensão de mar tão enorme.

Rejeitado pelo rei português, Colombo decidiu abordar o rei Fernando e a rainha Isabel de Espanha, país que nunca tinha visitado. Amigos bem relacionados deram-lhe cartas de apresentação para o círculo íntimo da corte real espanhola. Ferdinand e Isabella pareciam curiosos sobre a rota para a Ásia que Colombo propôs. Como o rei João, eles também nomearam uma comissão de inquérito para examinar o assunto, mas esses especialistas chegaram à mesma conclusão negativa: a afirmação de Colombo sobre a distância até a China e a facilidade de navegar até lá não poderia ser verdade.

Colombo persistiu. Ele conversou longamente com membros da corte espanhola e convenceu alguns deles, mas Ferdinand e Isabella rejeitaram duas vezes seu apelo por navios. Finalmente, zangado e impaciente após seis anos desanimadores na Espanha, ele ameaçou pedir o apoio do rei da França. Colombo realmente partiu para a França, cavalgando uma mula por uma estrada empoeirada da Espanha.

Com isso, os conselheiros reais persuadiram Ferdinand e Isabella a mudar de ideia. Se outro rei patrocinasse Colombo, e sua expedição fosse um sucesso, os monarcas espanhóis ficariam constrangidos. Eles seriam criticados na Espanha. Deixe Colombo arriscar sua vida, disseram os conselheiros. Deixe-o procurar "as grandezas e segredos do universo". Se tivesse sucesso, a Espanha conquistaria muita glória e superaria a liderança portuguesa na corrida pela exploração das riquezas da Ásia.

E então Ferdinand e Isabella decidiram arriscar. Eles enviaram um mensageiro para interceptar Colombo na estrada e trazê-lo de volta ao tribunal. Eles estavam prontos para conceder-lhe um título hereditário, almirante do mar oceano, e o direito a um décimo de qualquer riqueza - pérolas, ouro, prata, sedas, especiarias - que ele trouxesse de sua viagem. E eles concordaram em fornecer dois navios para sua expedição. O próprio Colombo arrecadou dinheiro para alugar um terceiro navio.

Meia hora antes do nascer do sol em 3 de agosto de 1492, o Nina, a Pinta, e as Santa Maria partiu do porto de Palos, na Espanha, levando cerca de noventa tripulantes ao todo. Eram navios pequenos e leves chamados caravelas, velozes e manobráveis, cada um com três mastros, suas velas brancas com grandes cruzes vermelhas ondulando ao vento. Eles tinham a bordo comida que duraria - bacalhau salgado, bacon e biscoitos, junto com farinha, vinho, azeite e bastante água, o suficiente para um ano. Em sua pequena cabine, Colombo mantinha várias ampulhetas para marcar a passagem do tempo, uma bússola e um astrolábio, um instrumento para calcular a latitude pela observação do movimento do sol.

A pequena frota parou para reparos em La Gomera, nas Ilhas Canárias, uma possessão espanhola na costa de Marrocos. Em 6 de setembro, depois de rezar na igreja paroquial de San Sebastian (que ainda hoje olha para o oceano), Colombo e seus três navios zarparam novamente, rumo ao oeste, movendo-se agora pelas águas desconhecidas do Mar Oceano. Cinco semanas depois, em 12 de outubro, sua preocupada tripulação finalmente avistou um terreno.

Colombo chamou o lugar onde pousaram de San Salvador - a primeira de muitas ilhas caribenhas que ele nomearia. Os nativos que o saudaram chamaram sua ilha de Guanahani. Eles próprios eram um povo conhecido como Tainos, o maior grupo de nativos que habita as ilhas do que hoje chamamos de Índias Ocidentais.

Colombo nos conta algumas coisas sobre essas pessoas agora extintas. Ele ficou impressionado com sua boa aparência e saúde robusta aparente. “Eles são pessoas muito bem constituídas, com corpos bonitos e rostos muito bonitos”, escreveu ele em seu diário. "Seus olhos são grandes e muito bonitos ... Essas pessoas são altas e suas pernas, sem exceção, são bastante retas e nenhuma delas tem pança." Muitos dos Tainos pintaram seus rostos ou seus corpos inteiros de preto, branco ou vermelho. E, como Colombo e seus homens notaram imediatamente, alguns deles usavam brincos de ouro e argolas no nariz. Eles ofereceram presentes aos visitantes europeus - papagaios, dardos de madeira e bolas de fios de algodão.

De San Salvador, Colombo navegou para várias outras ilhas, ainda acreditando que estava perto do Japão "porque todos os meus globos e mapas mundiais parecem indicar que a ilha do Japão fica nesta vizinhança". Ele parou em Cuba e em Hispaniola (a ilha que hoje contém o Haiti e a República Dominicana). E ele escreveu com entusiasmo em seu diário sobre a exuberante beleza tropical das ilhas, o doce canto dos pássaros "que podem fazer um homem desejar nunca mais sair daqui", e a hospitalidade do povo: "Eles deram aos meus homens pão e peixe e tudo o que eles tinham. " E mais tarde, "Eles nos trouxeram tudo o que eles tinham neste mundo, sabendo o que eu queria, e eles fizeram isso com tanta generosidade e boa vontade que foi maravilhoso."

Os Tainos viviam em casas grandes e arejadas de madeira com telhados de palmeira. Eles dormiam em redes de algodão, sentavam-se em cadeiras de madeira entalhadas em elaboradas formas de animais e mantinham pequenos cães sem casca e pássaros domesticados como animais de estimação. Eram hábeis fazendeiros, pescadores e construtores de barcos que viajavam de ilha em ilha em longas canoas pintadas em cores vivas esculpidas em troncos de árvores, cada uma das quais transportava até 150 pessoas.

Eles disseram a Colombo que se chamavam de Tainos, uma palavra que significa "bom", para se distinguir dos "maus" caribenhos, seus vizinhos ferozes e guerreiros que invadiram vilas Taino, levaram suas meninas como noivas e, os Tainos insistiram, comeram carne humana. Para evitar os ataques dos caribes, os tainos se pintaram de vermelho e lutaram com porretes, arcos e flechas e lanças impulsionadas por paus de arremesso.

Os próprios Tainos não eram belicosos, Colombo relatou aos seus monarcas: "Eles são um povo afetuoso, livre de avareza e agradável a tudo. Certifico a Vossas Altezas que em todo o mundo não acredito que haja um povo melhor ou melhor. país. Eles amam seus vizinhos como a si mesmos, têm as vozes mais suaves e gentis do mundo e estão sempre sorrindo. "

Um chefe de aldeia deu a Colombo uma máscara com olhos dourados e grandes orelhas de ouro. E os espanhóis já sabiam que muitos tainos usavam joias de ouro. Eles ficavam perguntando de onde veio o ouro. Depois de muito pesquisar, eles encontraram um rio na ilha de Hispaniola onde "a areia estava cheia de ouro, e em tal quantidade, que é maravilhoso ... Eu chamei isso El Rio del Oro"(O Rio de Ouro).

Colombo construiu um pequeno forte nas proximidades e deixou trinta e nove homens para trás para coletar amostras de ouro e aguardar a próxima expedição espanhola. Ainda acreditando ter descoberto ilhas desconhecidas perto da costa da Ásia, ele navegou de volta para a Espanha com algum ouro da Hispaniola e com dez índios que havia sequestrado para treiná-los como intérpretes e exibi-los na corte real. Um dos índios morreu no mar.

Ele voltou para uma recepção triunfante. Foi dito que quando Fernando e Isabel o receberam em sua corte em Barcelona, ​​"havia lágrimas nos olhos reais". Eles saudaram Colombo como um herói, convidando-o a cavalgar com eles em procissões reais. Uma segunda viagem foi planejada. Desta vez, os monarcas deram a Colombo dezessete navios, cerca de mil e quinhentos homens e algumas mulheres para colonizar as ilhas. Ele foi instruído a continuar suas explorações, estabelecer minas de ouro, instalar colonos, desenvolver o comércio com os índios e convertê-los ao cristianismo.

Colombo voltou para Hispaniola no outono de 1493. Ele esperava encontrar grandes quantidades de ouro na ilha. Mas as minas renderam muito menos ouro do que o esperado, e as safras européias plantadas pelos colonos murcharam no clima tropical. Alguns colonos começaram a dominar os índios, roubando suas posses, raptando suas esposas e apreendendo cativos para serem enviados à Espanha e vendidos como escravos. Milhares de Tainos fugiram para as montanhas para escapar da captura. Outros, jurando vingança, atacaram os espanhóis que encontraram em pequenos grupos e incendiaram suas cabanas.

Embora Colombo fosse um marinheiro corajoso e empreendedor, ele provou ser um governador pobre, incapaz de controlar a ganância de seus seguidores. Em 1496, ele foi chamado de volta à Espanha para responder a reclamações sobre sua gestão da colônia. Quando ele apareceu na corte perante Fernando e Isabel, ele descobriu que o rei e a rainha ainda estavam dispostos a apoiar suas explorações. Colombo deu-lhes uma "boa amostra de ouro ... e muitas máscaras, com olhos e orelhas de ouro, e muitos papagaios". Ele também presenteou os monarcas "Diego", irmão de um chefe taino, que usava uma pesada gola de ouro. Essas dicas de que mais ouro poderia estar chegando encorajaram Ferdinand e Isabella a enviar Colombo de volta às Índias, desta vez com oito navios.

Quando voltou para Hispaniola em sua terceira viagem em 1498, ele encontrou a ilha em turbulência, dilacerada por rivalidades e desentendimentos entre os colonos. Muitos colonos, incapazes de viver das minas de ouro ou da agricultura, clamavam para retornar à Espanha. Outros, rivais de Colombo que queriam obter o controle da colônia, se rebelaram contra seu governo. Quando a notícia do conflito chegou à Espanha, o rei e a rainha enviaram um emissário, Francisco de Bobadilla, para investigar o levante e assumir o governo.

Colombo, ao que parece, cometeu o erro de discutir com o emissário real e desafiar suas credenciais. Ele foi prontamente preso e com seus dois irmãos foi enviado de volta à Espanha para enfrentar acusações de transgressão. "Bobadilla me enviou aqui acorrentado", escreveu ele a Ferdinand e Isabella quando desembarcou na Espanha. "Juro que não sei, nem consigo imaginar por quê." Embora Colombo tenha sido rapidamente perdoado pelos monarcas espanhóis, que achavam que ele havia sido tratado com demasiada severidade, ele foi destituído de seu direito de governar as ilhas que havia descoberto e perdeu seu título de almirante do Mar Oceano.

Mesmo assim, ele teve permissão para fazer mais uma viagem, navegando pelo Caribe e explorando a costa da América Central. Esta expedição final foi amaldiçoada pelo azar. Dois dos navios de Colombo ficaram tão infestados de cupins que afundaram. Quando voltou para a Espanha, ele teve que encalhar seus navios restantes em St. Ann's Bay, na Jamaica, onde foi abandonado por um ano antes de ser resgatado no outono de 1504. Ele voltou para a Espanha doente e desapontado.

Enquanto isso, os colonos espanhóis haviam se estabelecido em Hispaniola, Cuba, Porto Rico, Jamaica e outras ilhas das Índias Ocidentais. Os índios locais foram postos para trabalhar como trabalhadores forçados nas minas de ouro ou em fazendas espanholas. Indians who resisted were killed, sometimes with terrible brutality, or were shipped to Spain to be sold as slaves. Spanish missionaries denounced this mistreatment, but with little effect. "I have seen the greatest cruelty and inhumanity practiced on these gentle and peace-loving [native peoples]," Father Bartolomé de Las Casas would say a half century later, "without any reason except for insatiable greed, thirst, and hunger for gold."

As the number of Spanish colonists increased, the native population of the West Indies quickly declined. Tens of thousands of native people were worked to death or died of smallpox, measles, and other European diseases to which they had no immunity. As the Tainos died off, the colonists brought in black slaves from Africa to labor on ranches and in the spreading sugar-cane fields.

Within fifty years, the Tainos had ceased to exist as a distinct race of people. A few Taino words survive today in Spanish and even in English, including hammock, canoe, hurricane, savannah, barbecue, e cannibal.

Columbus died in a Spanish monastery on May 20, 1506, at the age of fifty-seven, still believing that he had found a new route to Asia, and that China and Japan lay just beyond the islands he had explored. By then, other explorers were following the sea route pioneered by the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and Europeans were already speaking of Columbus's discoveries as a "New World."

The first map of the world to show these newly discovered lands across the Ocean Sea appeared in 1507, a year after Christopher Columbus's death. The mapmaker, Martin Waldseemüller, named the New World "America," after the Italian Amerigo Vespucci, who had explored the coastline of South America and was the first to realize that it was a separate continent, not part of Asia.

Columbus wasn't the first explorer to "discover" America. His voyages were significant because they were the first to become widely known in Europe. They opened a pathway from the Old World to the New, paving the way for the European conquest and colonization of the Americas, changing life forever on both sides of the Atlantic.

Excerpted from Who Was First? Copyright © 2007 by Russell Freedman.


7 The Knights Templar


The Knights Templar were dissolved in the 14th century on charges of heresy, though many historians believe the real reason for the persecution was jealousy. Thanks to their banking system, the order of warrior monks was remarkably well off. Of course, being burned at the stake does tend to put a damper on business.

During the fight against persecution, some knights supposedly escaped to Scotland, where they received help from Henry Sinclair, Prince of Orkney Islands. In 1393, Sinclair had carried out a survey of Greenland through a Venetian admiral. Now, in 1398, he was ready to lead an expedition to the New World by following old Viking routes. Twelve ships carried Sinclair and hundreds of Templar refugees to Nova Scotia, Canada, where the knights allegedly hid their treasure. Sinclair is then said to have explored as far south as present-day Massachusetts.

Sinclair and the refugees may have assimilated with the natives instead of returning to Scotland. One outlandish claim is that the alleged gnostic beliefs of the Templar had a massive influence on Native American religion, while another states that the founding fathers were influenced by Templar teachings. The cited evidence includes a portrait of a medieval knight on a stone in Westford, Massachusetts and an old tower in Newport, Rhode Island that looks fairly European. The remains of an old castle, a cannon, and a stone wall in Nova Scotia are supposedly further evidence of the theory.


Columbus’ Confusion About the New World

In the year 1513, a group of men led by Vasco Núñez de Balboa marched across the Isthmus of Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean. They had been looking for it—they knew it existed—and, familiar as they were with oceans, they had no difficulty in recognizing it when they saw it. On their way, however, they saw a good many things they had not been looking for and were not familiar with. When they returned to Spain to tell what they had seen, it was not a simple matter to find words for everything.

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For example, they had killed a large and ferocious wild animal. They called it a tiger, although there were no tigers in Spain and none of the men had ever seen one before. Listening to their story was Peter Martyr, member of the King's Council of the Indies and possessor of an insatiable curiosity about the new land that Spain was uncovering in the west. How, the learned man asked them, did they know that the ferocious animal was a tiger? They answered "that they knewe it by the spottes, fiercenesse, agilitie, and such other markes and tokens whereby auncient writers have described the Tyger." It was a good answer. Men, confronted with things they do not recognize, turn to the writings of those who have had a wider experience. And in 1513 it was still assumed that the ancient writers had had a wider experience than those who came after them.

Columbus himself had made that assumption. His discoveries posed for him, as for others, a problem of identification. It seemed to be a question not so much of giving names to new lands as of finding the proper old names, and the same was true of the things that the new lands contained. Cruising through the Caribbean, enchanted by the beauty and variety of what he saw, Columbus assumed that the strange plants and trees were strange only because he was insufficiently versed in the writings of men who did know them. "I am the saddest man in the world," he wrote, "because I do not recognize them."

We need not deride Columbus' reluctance to give up the world that he knew from books. Only idiots escape entirely from the world that the past bequeaths. The discovery of America opened a new world, full of new things and new possibilities for those with eyes to see them. But the New World did not erase the Old. Rather, the Old World determined what men saw in the New and what they did with it. What America became after 1492 depended both on what men found there and on what they expected to find, both on what America actually was and on what old writers and old experience led men to think it was, or ought to be or could be made to be.

During the decade before 1492, as Columbus nursed a growing urge to sail west to the Indies—as the lands of China, Japan and India were then known in Europe—he was studying the old writers to find out what the world and its people were like. He read the Ymago Mundi of Pierre d'Ailly, a French cardinal who wrote in the early 15th century, the travels of Marco Polo and of Sir John Mandeville, Pliny's História Natural e a Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II). Columbus was not a scholarly man. Yet he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them and came out with ideas about the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong, the kind of ideas that the self-educated person gains from independent reading and clings to in defiance of what anyone else tries to tell him.

The strongest one was a wrong one—namely, that the distance between Europe and the eastern shore of Asia was short, indeed, that Spain was closer to China westward than eastward. Columbus never abandoned this conviction. And before he set out to prove it by sailing west from Spain, he studied his books to find out all he could about the lands that he would be visiting. From Marco Polo he learned that the Indies were rich in gold, silver, pearls, jewels and spices. The Great Khan, whose empire stretched from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, had displayed to Polo a wealth and majesty that dwarfed the splendors of the courts of Europe.

Polo also had things to say about the ordinary people of the Far East. Those in the province of Mangi, where they grew ginger, were averse to war and so had fallen an easy prey to the khan. On Nangama, an island off the coast, described as having "great plentie of spices," the people were far from averse to war: they were anthropophagi—man-eaters—who devoured their captives. There were, in fact, man-eating people in several of the offshore islands, and in many islands both men and women dressed themselves with only a small scrap of cloth over their genitals. On the island of Discorsia, in spite of the fact that they made fine cotton cloth, the people went entirely naked. In one place there were two islands where men and women were segregated, the women on one island, the men on the other.

Marco Polo occasionally slipped into fables like this last one, but most of what he had to say about the Indies was the result of actual observation. Sir John Mandeville's travels, on the other hand, were a hoax—there was no such man—and the places he claimed to have visited in the 1300s were fantastically filled with one-eyed men and one-footed men, dog-faced men and men with two faces or no faces. But the author of the hoax did draw on the reports of enough genuine travelers to make some of his stories plausible, and he also drew on a legend as old as human dreams, the legend of a golden age when men were good. He told of an island where the people lived without malice or guile, without covetousness or lechery or gluttony, wishing for none of the riches of this world. They were not Christians, but they lived by the golden rule. A man who planned to see the Indies for himself could hardly fail to be stirred by the thought of finding such a people.

Columbus surely expected to bring back some of the gold that was supposed to be so plentiful. The spice trade was one of the most lucrative in Europe, and he expected to bring back spices. But what did he propose to do about the people in possession of these treasures?

When he set out, he carried with him a commission from the king and queen of Spain, empowering him "to discover and acquire certain islands and mainland in the ocean sea" and to be "Admiral and Viceroy and Governor therein." If the king and Columbus expected to assume dominion over any of the Indies or other lands en route, they must have had some ideas, not only about the Indies but also about themselves, to warrant the expectation. What had they to offer that would make their dominion welcome? Or if they proposed to impose their rule by force, how could they justify such a step, let alone carry it out? The answer is that they had two things: they had Christianity and they had civilization.

Christianity has meant many things to many men, and its role in the European conquest and occupation of America was varied. But in 1492 to Columbus there was probably nothing very complicated about it. He would have reduced it to a matter of corrupt human beings, destined for eternal damnation, redeemed by a merciful savior. Christ saved those who believed in him, and it was the duty of Christians to spread his gospel and thus rescue the heathens from the fate that would otherwise await them.

Although Christianity was in itself a sufficient justification for dominion, Columbus would also carry civilization to the Indies and this, too, was a gift that he and his contemporaries considered adequate recompense for anything they might take. When people talked about civilization—or civility, as they usually called it—they seldom specified precisely what they meant. Civility was closely associated with Christianity, but the two were not identical. Whereas Christianity was always accompanied by civility, the Greeks and Romans had had civility without Christianity. One way to define civility was by its opposite, barbarism. Originally the word "barbarian" had simply meant "foreigner"—to a Greek someone who was not Greek, to a Roman someone who was not Roman. By the 15th or 16th century, it meant someone not only foreign but with manners and customs of which civil persons disapproved. North Africa became known as Barbary, a 16th-century geographer explained, "because the people be barbarous, not onely in language, but in manners and customs." Parts of the Indies, from Marco Polo's description, had to be civil, but other parts were obviously barbarous: for example, the lands where people went naked. Whatever civility meant, it meant clothes.

But there was a little more to it than that, and there still is. Civil people distinguished themselves by the pains they took to order their lives. They organized their society to produce the elaborate food, clothing, buildings and other equipment characteristic of their manner of living. They had strong governments to protect property, to protect good persons from evil ones, to protect the manners and customs that differentiated civil people from barbarians. The superior clothing, housing, food and protection that attached to civilization made it seem to the European a gift worth giving to the ill-clothed, ill-housed and ungoverned barbarians of the world.

Slavery was an ancient instrument of civilization, and in the 15th century it had been revived as a way to deal with barbarians who refused to accept Christianity and the rule of civilized government. Through slavery they could be made to abandon their bad habits, put on clothes and reward their instructors with a lifetime of work. Throughout the 15th century, as the Portuguese explored the coast of Africa, large numbers of well-clothed sea captains brought civilization to naked savages by carrying them off to the slave markets of Seville and Lisbon.

Since Columbus had lived in Lisbon and sailed in Portuguese vessels to the Gold Coast of Africa, he was not unfamiliar with barbarians. He had seen for himself that the Torrid Zone could support human life, and he had observed how pleased barbarians were with trinkets on which civilized Europeans set small value, such as the little bells that falconers placed on hawks. Before setting off on his voyage, he laid in a store of hawk's bells. If the barbarous people he expected to find in the Indies should think civilization and Christianity an insufficient reward for submission to Spain, perhaps hawk's bells would help.

Columbus sailed from Palos de la Frontera on Friday, August 3, 1492, reached the Canary Islands six days later and stayed there for a month to finish outfitting his ships. He left on September 6, and five weeks later, in about the place he expected, he found the Indies. What else could it be but the Indies? There on the shore were the naked people. With hawk's bells and beads he made their acquaintance and found some of them wearing gold nose plugs. It all added up. He had found the Indies. And not only that. He had found a land over which he would have no difficulty in establishing Spanish dominion, for the people showed him an immediate veneration. He had been there only two days, coasting along the shores of the islands, when he was able to hear the natives crying in loud voices, "Come and see the men who have come from heaven bring them food and drink." If Columbus thought he was able to translate the language in two days' time, it is not surprising that what he heard in it was what he wanted to hear or that what he saw was what he wanted to see—namely, the Indies, filled with people eager to submit to their new admiral and viceroy.

Columbus made four voyages to America, during which he explored an astonishingly large area of the Caribbean and a part of the northern coast of South America. At every island the first thing he inquired about was gold, taking heart from every trace of it he found. And at Haiti he found enough to convince him that this was Ophir, the country to which Solomon and Jehosophat had sent for gold and silver. Since its lush vegetation reminded him of Castile, he renamed it Española, the Spanish island, which was later Latinized as Hispaniola.

Española appealed to Columbus from his first glimpse of it. From aboard ship it was possible to make out rich fields waving with grass. There were good harbors, lovely sand beaches and fruit-laden trees. The people were shy and fled whenever the caravels approached the shore, but Columbus gave orders "that they should take some, treat them well and make them lose their fear, that some gain might be made, since, considering the beauty of the land, it could not be but that there was gain to be got." And indeed there was. Although the amount of gold worn by the natives was even less than the amount of clothing, it gradually became apparent that there was gold to be had. One man possessed some that had been pounded into gold leaf. Another appeared with a gold belt. Some produced nuggets for the admiral. Española accordingly became the first European colony in America. Although Columbus had formally taken possession of every island he found, the act was mere ritual until he reached Española. Here he began the European occupation of the New World, and here his European ideas and attitudes began their transformation of land and people.

The Arawak Indians of Española were the handsomest people that Columbus had encountered in the New World and so attractive in character that he found it hard to praise them enough. "They are the best people in the world," he said, "and beyond all the mildest." They cultivated a bit of cassava for bread and made a bit of cottonlike cloth from the fibers of the gossampine tree. But they spent most of the day like children idling away their time from morning to night, seemingly without a care in the world. Once they saw that Columbus meant them no harm, they outdid one another in bringing him anything he wanted. It was impossible to believe, he reported, "that anyone has seen a people with such kind hearts and so ready to give the Christians all that they possess, and when the Christians arrive, they run at once to bring them everything."

To Columbus the Arawaks seemed like relics of the golden age. On the basis of what he told Peter Martyr, who recorded his voyages, Martyr wrote, "they seeme to live in that golden worlde of the which olde writers speake so much, wherein menne lived simply and innocently without enforcement of lawes, without quarreling, judges and libelles, content onely to satisfie nature, without further vexation for knowledge of things to come."

As the idyllic Arawaks conformed to one ancient picture, their enemies the Caribs conformed to another that Columbus had read of, the anthropophagi. According to the Arawaks, the Caribs, or Cannibals, were man-eaters, and as such their name eventually entered the English language. (This was at best a misrepresentation, which Columbus would soon exploit.) The Caribs lived on islands of their own and met every European approach with poisoned arrows, which men and women together fired in showers. They were not only fierce but, by comparison with the Arawaks, also seemed more energetic, more industrious and, it might even be said, sadly enough, more civil. After Columbus succeeded in entering one of their settlements on his second voyage, a member of the expedition reported, "This people seemed to us to be more civil than those who were in the other islands we have visited, although they all have dwellings of straw, but these have them better made and better provided with supplies, and in them were more signs of industry."

Columbus had no doubts about how to proceed, either with the lovable but lazy Arawaks or with the hateful but industrious Caribs. He had come to take possession and to establish dominion. In almost the same breath, he described the Arawaks' gentleness and innocence and then went on to assure the king and queen of Spain, "They have no arms and are all naked and without any knowledge of war, and very cowardly, so that a thousand of them would not face three. And they are also fitted to be ruled and to be set to work, to cultivate the land and to do all else that may be necessary, and you may build towns and teach them to go clothed and adopt our customs."

So much for the golden age. Columbus had not yet prescribed the method by which the Arawaks would be set to work, but he had a pretty clear idea of how to handle the Caribs. On his second voyage, after capturing a few of them, he sent them in slavery to Spain, as samples of what he hoped would be a regular trade. They were obviously intelligent, and in Spain they might "be led to abandon that inhuman custom which they have of eating men, and there in Castile, learning the language, they will much more readily receive baptism and secure the welfare of their souls." The way to handle the slave trade, Columbus suggested, was to send ships from Spain loaded with cattle (there were no native domestic animals on Española), and he would return the ships loaded with supposed Cannibals. This plan was never put into operation, partly because the Spanish sovereigns did not approve it and partly because the Cannibals did not approve it. They defended themselves so well with their poisoned arrows that the Spaniards decided to withhold the blessings of civilization from them and to concentrate their efforts on the seemingly more amenable Arawaks.

The process of civilizing the Arawaks got underway in earnest after the Santa Maria ran aground on Christmas Day, 1492, off Caracol Bay. The local leader in that part of Española, Guacanagari, rushed to the scene and with his people helped the Spaniards to salvage everything aboard. Once again Columbus was overjoyed with the remarkable natives. They are, he wrote, "so full of love and without greed, and suitable for every purpose, that I assure your Highnesses that I believe there is no better land in the world, and they are always smiling." While the salvage operations were going on, canoes full of Arawaks from other parts of the island came in bearing gold. Guacanagari "was greatly delighted to see the admiral joyful and understood that he desired much gold." Thereafter it arrived in amounts calculated to console the admiral for the loss of the Santa Maria, which had to be scuttled. He decided to make his permanent headquarters on the spot and accordingly ordered a fortress to be built, with a tower and a large moat.

What followed is a long, complicated and unpleasant story. Columbus returned to Spain to bring the news of his discoveries. The Spanish monarchs were less impressed than he with what he had found, but he was able to round up a large expedition of Spanish colonists to return with him and help exploit the riches of the Indies. At Española the new settlers built forts and towns and began helping themselves to all the gold they could find among the natives. These creatures of the golden age remained generous. But precisely because they did not value possessions, they had little to turn over. When gold was not forthcoming, the Europeans began killing. Some of the natives struck back and hid out in the hills. But in 1495 a punitive expedition rounded up 1,500 of them, and 500 were shipped off to the slave markets of Seville.

The natives, seeing what was in store for them, dug up their own crops of cassava and destroyed their supplies in hopes that the resulting famine would drive the Spaniards out. But it did not work. The Spaniards were sure there was more gold in the island than the natives had yet found, and were determined to make them dig it out. Columbus built more forts throughout the island and decreed that every Arawak of 14 years or over was to furnish a hawk's bell full of gold dust every three months. The various local leaders were made responsible for seeing that the tribute was paid. In regions where gold was not to be had, 25 pounds of woven or spun cotton could be substituted for the hawk's bell of gold dust.

Unfortunately Española was not Ophir, and it did not have anything like the amount of gold that Columbus thought it did. The pieces that the natives had at first presented him were the accumulation of many years. To fill their quotas by washing in the riverbeds was all but impossible, even with continual daily labor. But the demand was unrelenting, and those who sought to escape it by fleeing to the mountains were hunted down with dogs taught to kill. A few years later Peter Martyr was able to report that the natives "beare this yoke of servitude with an evill will, but yet they beare it."

The tribute system, for all its injustice and cruelty, preserved something of the Arawaks' old social arrangements: they retained their old leaders under control of the king's viceroy, and royal directions to the viceroy might ultimately have worked some mitigation of their hardships. But the Spanish settlers of Española did not care for this centralized method of exploitation. They wanted a share of the land and its people, and when their demands were not met they revolted against the government of Columbus. In 1499 they forced him to abandon the system of obtaining tribute through the Arawak chieftains for a new one in which both land and people were turned over to individual Spaniards for exploitation as they saw fit. This was the beginning of the system of repartimientos ou encomiendas later extended to other areas of Spanish occupation. With its inauguration, Columbus' economic control of Española effectively ceased, and even his political authority was revoked later in the same year when the king appointed a new governor.

For the Arawaks the new system of forced labor meant that they did more work, wore more clothes and said more prayers. Peter Martyr could rejoice that "so many thousands of men are received to bee the sheepe of Christes flocke." But these were sheep prepared for slaughter. If we may believe Bartolomé de Las Casas, a Dominican priest who spent many years among them, they were tortured, burned and fed to the dogs by their masters. They died from overwork and from new European diseases. They killed themselves. And they took pains to avoid having children. Life was not fit to live, and they stopped living. From a population of 100,000 at the lowest estimate in 1492, there remained in 1514 about 32,000 Arawaks in Española. By 1542, according to Las Casas, only 200 were left. In their place had appeared slaves imported from Africa. The people of the golden age had been virtually exterminated.

Porque? What is the meaning of this tale of horror? Why is the first chapter of American history an atrocity story? Bartolomé de Las Casas had a simple answer, greed: "The cause why the Spanishe have destroyed such an infinitie of soules, hath been onely, that they have helde it for their last scope and marke to gette golde." The answer is true enough. But we shall have to go further than Spanish greed to understand why American history began this way. The Spanish had no monopoly on greed.

The Indians' austere way of life could not fail to win the admiration of the invaders, for self-denial was an ancient virtue in Western culture. The Greeks and Romans had constructed philosophies and the Christians a religion around it. The Indians, and especially the Arawaks, gave no sign of thinking much about God, but otherwise they seemed to have attained the monastic virtues. Plato had emphasized again and again that freedom was to be reached by restraining one's needs, and the Arawaks had attained impressive freedom.

But even as the Europeans admired the Indians' simplicity, they were troubled by it, troubled and offended. Innocence never fails to offend, never fails to invite attack, and the Indians seemed the most innocent people anyone had ever seen. Without the help of Christianity or of civilization, they had attained virtues that Europeans liked to think of as the proper outcome of Christianity and civilization. The fury with which the Spaniards assaulted the Arawaks even after they had enslaved them must surely have been in part a blind impulse to crush an innocence that seemed to deny the Europeans' cherished assumption of their own civilized, Christian superiority over naked, heathen barbarians.

That the Indians were destroyed by Spanish greed is true. But greed is simply one of the uglier names we give to the driving force of modern civilization. We usually prefer less pejorative names for it. Call it the profit motive, or free enterprise, or the work ethic, or the American way, or, as the Spanish did, civility. Before we become too outraged at the behavior of Columbus and his followers, before we identify ourselves too easily with the lovable Arawaks, we have to ask whether we could really get along without greed and everything that goes with it. Yes, a few of us, a few eccentrics, might manage to live for a time like the Arawaks. But the modern world could not have put up with the Arawaks any more than the Spanish could. The story moves us, offends us, but perhaps the more so because we have to recognize ourselves not in the Arawaks but in Columbus and his followers.

The Spanish reaction to the Arawaks was Western civilization's reaction to the barbarian: the Arawaks answered the Europeans' description of men, just as Balboa's tiger answered the description of a tiger, and being men they had to be made to live as men were supposed to live. But the Arawaks' view of man was something different. They died not merely from cruelty, torture, murder and disease, but also, in the last analysis, because they could not be persuaded to fit the European conception of what they ought to be.

Edmund S. Morgan is a Sterling Professor emeritus at Yale University.


Ancient Egyptian artifacts discovered in the Grand Canyon

While this is a heavily criticized subject, there is evidence that suggests that in the 1900s, researchers belonging to the Smithsonian institute stumbled across ancient Egyptian artifacts deep within the Grand Canyon.

According to an article published by the Arizona Gazette, the discovery of a series of mysterious caves and artifacts in the Marble Canyon region of the Gand Canyon would forever change our history. The report claimed that two Smithsonian-funded researchers Prof. S. A. Jordan and G.E. Kinkaid were responsible for the groundbreaking discovery:

Discoveries which almost conclusively prove that the race which inhabited this mysterious cavern, hewn in solid rock by human hands, was of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt, tracing back to Ramses. If their theories are borne out by the translation of the tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, the mystery of the prehistoric people of North America, their ancient arts, who they were and whence they came, will be solved. Egypt and the Nile, and Arizona and the Colorado will be linked by a historical chain running back to ages which staggers the wildest fancy of the fictionist.

See more about this story from Beyond Science:


Archaeology: Book about America's discovery gets it all wrong

Numerous popular books and television programs claim that America was discovered by a variety of Old World civilizations centuries before Columbus.

Numerous popular books and television programs claim that America was discovered by a variety of Old World civilizations centuries before Columbus.

In the current issue of the journal American Antiquity, Larry Zimmerman, an archaeologist from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, reviews one of those books, The Lost Colonies of Ancient America: A comprehensive Guide to the Pre-Columbian Visitors Who Really Discovered America, written by Frank Joseph.

Joseph writes that there were pre-Columbian visits by Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Celts and others. An apparently non-facetious blurb on the book s cover asks, Who didn t discover America?"

He wrote that it was this cosmopolitan parade of visitors from the Old World and not the indigenous cultures of America who created virtually all the wonders of this New World, from Ohio s Newark Earthworks, which encode in their earthen walls a sophisticated knowledge of geometry and astronomy, to the monumental masonry of Machu Picchu.

Why don t archaeologists take these claims seriously?

Joseph says they cannot deviate from an academic party line without jeopardizing their professional careers, and so accept only those facts that support mainstream opinion.

The idea that archaeologists might ignore or even hide evidence that deviates from some academic party line would be laughable if it weren t so insulting.

Scientists have a long tradition of challenging the academic party line. Take the motto of London s Royal Society, which was founded in 1660 nullius in verba, which means take nobody s word for it.

As a graduate student, I submitted a paper to a major journal arguing that two of Ohio s most famous and influential archaeologists were wrong in how they interpreted the statewide distribution of 13,000-year-old flint spear points. After the paper was peer-reviewed, the journal published it.

Opinions, mainstream or otherwise, don t count for much in science. Evidence is what s important.

Most archaeologists don t dismiss the possibility of pre-Columbian contacts. In the June issue of the journal Antiquity, University of Calgary archaeologist Richard Callaghan presented the results of computer simulations of 1,200 voyages of small boats drifting with the currents from northern Africa to the Americas.

About 82 percent of Callaghan s simulated boats made landfall in the Americas, many in 70 to 120 days. Since watercrafts have been around for at least 8,000 years, Callaghan says there could have been a significant number of successful pre-Columbian voyages to America.

Do Callaghan's simulations lend credence to Joseph s extraordinary claims about who discovered America? No. Regardless of how likely such voyages might have been, archaeologists require evidence before accepting that they actually happened.

So far, there is no credible evidence for pre-Columbian contacts beyond the short-lived Norse settlement at L Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

In the early 19th century, some archaeologists believed that American Indians were too savage and ignorant to have built Ohio s ancient earthworks.

They speculated that the great mounds and enclosures were the work of a lost race of presumably white-skinned mound-builders. By 1890, however, systematic archaeological investigations conclusively showed that the true mound-builders were the ancestors of America s Indians.

Zimmerman argues that the racism underlying this mound-builder myth also is behind Joseph s claims, and it s still being used to rationalize injustice to American Indians.


America before Columbus -- a theory full of holes Saga America, by Barry Fell. New York: Times Books. $15.

In this sequel to "America, B.C.," Barry Fell expands upon his claim to have discovered linguistic and archaeological proof that the Americas were colonized by a vast range of Europeans, Africans, and Asians a thousand years before Columbus.

This is contrary to established evidence, but Fell more or less ignores all of the counterevidence and even suggests that most of the establishment has come around to his side since his first book was published.

In fact, scholars in linguistics, archaeology, and history have scorned his conclusions and methods -- reinforcing a tinge of martyrdom which Fell and his friends wear like a badge of honor. After all, they laughed at Galileo and Pasteur, too. But of course, they also laughed at Laurel and Hardy.

Like Tolkien, Fell has invented a self-contained fantasy world, but Fell represents his scientific reality. On the whole, I find Fell's fantasy less consistent and believable.

IT is certainly possible that there is an ancient site or inscription or remote colony of Old World origin to be found in America, but Fell portrays pre-Columbian America as a hotbed of trade, settlement, and semi-urbanization, which simply could not have escaped the archaeologists' notice were there any evidence for it. A partial Fell chronology for America: 325-250 B.C.: Carthaginian and Phoenician trade 264-241 B.C.: Libyan Greeks integrate Carthage trade ends 250-100 B.C.: European trade interrupted, North America mapped, token coins issued because of coin shortage 400 B.C.-A.D.400: Iberian-Roman traders Roman currency adopted A.D. 69 and 132: Two waves of Jewish refugees A.D.450: North African Christians arrive A.D.500: Libyan science and math flourish in Western US A.D.700 onward: Islamic inscriptions and Christian Celts in West A.D.1000: Vikings explore much of the US 1341: Vinland Norse revert to "paganism" and "barbarism" 1398: Last Norse-Celtic voyage to America 1524: Verrazano finds blonds in Rhode Island

But except for ephemeral Viking settlement in Canada, this all seems to be poppycock.

Fell's evidence consists of stone structures, ancient coins, and "inscriptions" on tablets, boulders, cliffs, etc., found in America. Jeremiah Epstein of the University of Texas recently traced virtually all american coin reports in January's "Current Anthropology." He showed them to be explainable as recently lost collectors items, mistaken identities, or hoaxes. Fell's "megalithic stone structures" were investigated in 1978 by Vermont State Archaeologist Giovanna Neudorfer and in 1979 by my Univeristy of Massachusetts crew, and we found nom evidence for ancient-voyager origins and considerable evidence for historic construction as chimney supports, spring houses, and root cellars.

Inscriptions such as the Kensington Stone, Spirit Pond Stones, and Iowa Tablets have long been exposed as hoaxes, but Fell cites them as if they had never been challenged.

Fell traces a hodgepodge of supposedly "borrowed" European words in "Algonquian" (actually a family of different languages) and other Native American tongues, but linguists have shown him wrong. On Page 187 he notes a Smithsonian publication by "Goddard and Fitzhugh 1978" but does not include it in his bibliography, thus keeping more or less intact his record of ignoring critics. It is available from Ives Goddard, curator of linguistics at the Smithsonian in Washiington, and interested readers should request a copy.

Matter-of-factly writing of the "Wyoming Iberian Bank" and its branches, Fell claims evidence for Gaelic settlers in Oklahoma, Jews in Arkansas, and Greeks in Colorado. That ancient Christians settled America is "unimpeachable," he says, devoting a chapter to America's Christianization long before Columbus. He then writes on the fall back into "paganism," implying that once-Christian America was simply reclaimed by later European conquerors.

His "Wyoming bank" consists of some round petroglyphs quite in the local Native American tradition. He claims to match them up with Old World coins.Like most of his comparisons, they do not even look similar except for the simplest, easily-reinvented designs -- except to true believers.

Fell is a prophet in an archaeological cult. In the name of science he tells people they should believe in him and share in the secrets of civilization. Disdainful of the experts, he gives easy answers to complex questions. His evidence is illusory, erroneous, and unsubstantiated, but he raises a powerful call to belief.

"Saga America" is either a delusion or a cynical exploitation of people's honest enthusiasm for the romance of archaeology. To the considerable extent the book camouflages or denigrates the accomplishments of Native Americans (and serious scholars), it is regrettable indeed. If it sparks interest in America's past sufficient to inspire readers to seek out better accounts, suspicions aroused, the book may have some value, at least as a counterexample.

Read "The Mound-Builders" by Robert Silverberg, "Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents" by Robert Wauchope, "exploring the Unknown" by Charles Cazeau and Stuart Scott, and Martin Gardner's "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" as antidotes.

"Saga America" belongs in library collections next to Bermuda Triangle, Bridey Murphy, and fad and cult items. It is a serious, if anadvertent, sociological document of a peculiar genre of wishful thinking, and it is worth reading only in that extent. Thoughtful will come to Barry Fell not to praise him.


Timing of First Contact

Researchers believe that Polynesian seafarers must have discovered the Americas first, long before Europeans did. The new DNA evidence, taken together with archaeological and linguistic evidence regarding the timeline of Polynesian expansion, suggests that an original contact date between 500 CE and 700 CE between Polynesia and America seems likely. That means that Polynesians would have arrived in South America even before the Norse had landed in Newfoundland.

The findings show that the technological capabilities of ancient peoples and cultures from around the world should not be underestimated and that the history of human expansion across the globe is probably far more complicated than anyone could have previously imagined.


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