Comparing Evidence of Both Norse and African Presence in the Pre Columbian Americas

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In pre- Columbian America there is evidence to show that there were both Norse and African presence present before the arrival of Christopher Columbus’ maiden voyage in 1492. The presence of the Africans was first stated by Christopher Columbus himself in his voyage diaries, which he claimed was told to him by an Indian on his second voyage. This was later solidified by Portuguese seamen who also told of African navigation to Columbus. On the other hand the Nordic Movement into pre- Columbian America was stimulated by the adventurous and nomadic nature of the Norsemen. The men hailed from Northern Britain, Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. They were also known as Northman which was interchangeable with the term ‘Viking’. This essay will assess the botanical, archaeological and oceanography evidence along with the African and Egyptian Cultural history of the African presence along with the botanical, metallurgical, archaeological, cartographical, oral and written evidence of the Nordic presence in the pre- Columbian America. To prove that African presence existed in pre-Colombian America before Columbus’ arrival Professor Van Sertima presented archaeological evidence in many forms. The first piece of archaeological evidence was the Guanine. The Italian account Raccolta of the voyages reads “there were pieces of gua-nin as large as carvel’s poop.”1 This alloy existed predominantly with Africans who were outside of the Atlantic World. It was generally found on the tips of spears and other weapons making this an important component for the indigenous societies. The trading of this alloy was extensive between the Africans and the Indigenous people. “… and he (Columbus) wanted to find out what the Indians of Hispaniola had told him, that there had come to it from the south and southwest Negro people, who brought those spear points made of a metal which they called guanine, of which he had sent to the king and queen for assaying, and which was found to have thirty two arts, eighteen of gold, six of silver, and eight of copper.” – Raccolta, PARTE , VOL. . This piece of archaeological evidence helps Van Sertima to show that before Columbus arrived there was interaction between the Africans and the people of the Atlantic World via the form of trade. “The Negroid element is well proven by the large Olmec stone monuments as well as the terracotta items and therefore cannot be excluded from the pre-Columbian history of the Americas.”- ALEXANDER VON WUTHENAU2. The most important of all the archaeological findings of African presence were that of the Negroid Olmec heads found in La Venta, Tres Zapotes and San Lorenzo, between the period of 1939-1940. This piece of evidence was the most concrete of all that Van Sertima collected to explain pre-Columbian African contact. These were large carved stone heads reaching six to nine feet high, weighing up to forty tons each3 and were carved out of basalt stone. When they were unearthed in both central and south America it was declared by Van Sertima “There is no denying their negroness either, the features are not only nergo African in type but individual in their facial particulars cancelling out the possibility of ritual stereotypes of an unknown race produced by some quirk of the sculptor’s imagination.” Not only did these heads have the facial features of that of an African but on one of the stone heads dug up was found to have Ethiopian braids These Olmec heads were the most convincing pieces of evidence of African presence in the pre-Columbian presence that Van Sertima presented in his theory. As much as archaeological evidence is important so is oral history and traditions, as quoted “We are vessels of speech, we are the repositories which harbour secrets many centuries old without us the names of kings would vanish from oblivion, we are the memory of mankind; by the spoken word we bring to life the deeds and exploits of kings of younger generations”4. There...
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