In the last 10 years or so, it has become popular to claim that African people had been in America long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Some say that Africans traveled here by boat from Ancient Egypt/Kemet and Nubia, prior to 500 B.C. Some say Africans had always been here and built civilizations in North, Central America and South America. And some say Africans had open, active trade routes crossing back and forth between West Africa and the Americas for centuries before 1492. There is even a claim, growing in popularity, that the current black population in America was always here and that the Atlantic Slave Trade which saw the transport of millions of West Africans to America is a huge myth. The problem with all of these claims is that there is no clear, credible evidence for any of them.
This article is also an explanation of the difference between history and pseudo-history. The word 'History' comes from the Greek 'historia' , meaning- a learning or knowing by 'inquiry.' It is designed to elicit the truth of the past by evaluating evidence. Pseudo-history seems a lot like history because it also discusses the past. However, you can always spot pseudo-history because it usually carries one or more of these elements.
1) It begins with a strongly held belief or a conclusion, and only discusses 'evidence' meant to support that conclusion. 2) it is light on context and surrounding historical circumstances. 3) It doesn't consider other possible explanations for the information presented. And rarely discusses other studies or viewpoints which may contradict the claims being made. 4) It is not really an inquiry (because it already knows the conclusion). Thus, it doesn't welcome honest probing questions from its intended audience. 5) It is heavy on rhetoric and speculation. Using rhetoric in this manner is a way of speaking for the evidence when the evidence fails to speak for itself.
Here's an example of how pseudo history can arise from not considering other explanations for phenomena we see. Let's say you buy a bag of Cheetos and the next day when you go to eat those Cheetos, you can't find them. You search all throughout the kitchen, then walk out in the living room and see your roommate asleep on the couch with orange cheese stains on his hands and around his mouth. Then you see the empty bag of Cheetos on the floor by the couch. So you wake him up and accuse him of stealing your Cheetos. He denies it, saying he didn't eat your Cheetos. For the pseudo-historian minded people the story may end right there. The roommate clearly stole your Cheetos. You take a picture and broadcast to everyone you know that he is a thief and a liar.
But now, let's go a step further. Your roommate explains he remembers you saying the day before that you were going to get some Cheetos and that it sounded delicious, so the next morning he went to the store and bought his own bag and ate them, which explains the orange stains. Then he shows you the receipt for the bag he bought. Later that day you find your bag of Cheetos (which had fallen out of your grocery bag) in the back seat of your car. That's the real history. As opposed to drawing conclusions based on one image, history (by definition) requires a bit more digging and inquiry.
Before considering all of the claims and the evidence given to support them, let's get the rhetoric out of the way first. The rhetoric basically goes like this:
White Europeans didn't tell us our true history. They tried to hide and bury our amazing past. They lied to us about the true identity of the indigenous people of America! Don't believe what they tell you, they just want you to think we weren't advanced enough to have sailed to North America before Columbus! The enemy (White Archeologists) hate and try to ignore what we say because they don't want black people to wake up!
Now with all of that out of the way, keep in mind nothing here is saying that Africans didn't, or couldn't have come to America before Columbus. In fact, it would be a surprise if no ships ever made it over here from West, North or even East Africa, this article is only saying that there is no solid proof for it. Of course, Europeans lied about the past before, but the remedy for that certainly isn't to tell our people more lies. No. Now more than ever, the 21st Century has to be about truth, verifiable truth. With that said, let's look at the evidence.
1. The Photographs
In the last several years we have seen pictures of Native Americans with black or African features. Usually, they are presented as the true indigenous or 'aboriginal' people of America. Often, not much more information is given about the black people in these pictures or how this phenomenon came about. This obscures the very rich history of centuries long interaction between black people brought to these shores during the Atlantic slave trade and Native Americans. Since coming to America in the 16th century, Black people and Native Americans have interacted in many ways for many reasons. Black people intermarried and intermixed with numerous tribes from the Narragansett in the North to the Creek and Seminoles in the South and the Kiowa in West. They interacted as indentured servants on the same farms, as runaways seeking refuge from slavery, they interacted as freedmen, as mutual partners, and as slaves for some of the tribes such as the Cherokee and the Chickasaw in the South. There have been numerous books written on the history of these relationships. For anyone interested in this forgotten history, I'd suggest "Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage" by William Loren Katz. For anyone interested, there's also a 2004 documentary on the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlL94sw_C8Q
The whole idea of showing these black native Americans in photos is to assert or imply that these are what Native Americans looked like in pre-Columbian times.
However, the earliest descriptions and illustrations of Native Americans generally show native Americans with long dark hair and the same features as the indigenous people we see today.
2. The Olmecs
What appears to be the most visual evidence for the claim that Africans crossed the Atlantic during pre-Columbian times are the Olmec heads. Most of us have seen these heads as sure proof that Africans are indigenous to America. This image is on the cover of Ivan Van Sertima's 1976 book, 'They Came Before Columbus.' In his book, Van Sertima argued that Nubians journeyed to America during Egypt's 25th Dynasty and influenced Early Olmec Civilization which was the first Advanced civilization in Mesoamerica. The idea was that the indigenous people honored these Nubians as kings and the Olmec heads were built to reflect their Nubian rulers. Van Sertima never explained why he picked this particular dynasty but the evidence seemed clear that the Olmec heads depicted Africans.
The problem is, that it was never considered that the heads also look like the indigenous people of the region. As these illustrations show, one could easily conclude that these were indigenous native Americans as well. So we're going to need more solid evidence that Nubians or Africans came to America during this period. Unfortunately, there isn't any. There are no settlement sites, no artifacts, no ship remains, nothing. On May 17, 1970, Norwegian ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl and a multinational crew set out from Morocco across the Atlantic Ocean in Ra II, a papyrus sailing craft modeled after ancient Egyptian sailing vessels. Heyerdahl proved that ships could have come from Egypt during this period. But the question now isn't whether ships could have come from Africa, the question is whether or not they did.
If there was a significant presence of Africans amongst the Olmecs, or if the Olmecs were Africans as some now contend, it would show up in the DNA of the people in the region. However, there is no DNA evidence showing an African presence.
All of the DNA studies in the Olmec region show indigenous Native American markers.
In fact, a recent DNA study taken from two actual Olmec burial sites show that Olmec DNA matches the indigenous people of the region.
Finally, more recent studies have shown the progression of indigenous culture through time toward the more advanced development of Olmec civilization.
3. Anderzej Wiercinski
Dr. Ivan Van Sertima's work on Olmec civilization has been widely criticized by Mesoamerican academics who describe his claims to be ill-founded and false. They noted that no "genuine African artifact had been found in a controlled archaeological excavation in the New World."
In 1998, Van Sertima wrote a "Reply to My Critics", in which, to the point of lack of evidence, he cited the work of the Polish Craniologist Anderzej Wiercinski. Wiercinski claimed that some of the Olmecs were of African origin. He supported this claim with cranial evidence from two Mesoamerican sites: Tlatilco and Cerro de las Mesas. Keep in mind, however, that using osteology (the scientific study of bones) to determine the race of a subject is an outdated practice - once popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
One of the problems with using this method to determine race is that the categories it creates are arbitrary and subjective. For example, Wiercinski sorted the cranial material he used into the categories of Mongoloid, Caucasoid or Africanoid. One of the problems with sorting evidence into these racial categories are the categories themselves. It's arbitrary. Why only three categories? Why not 5 or 9? What do the categories indicate or predict? Based on genetic, linguistic or ethnic similarities, we can break the human population down into as many as 300 genetic groups or races... or we can simply say there's only one race. This is because there is always plenty of overlap across the old traditional racial boundaries of Black, White or Asian.
Likewise, with Wiercinski's cranial measures. He found considerable overlap between his Ugandan (black), Mongolian (yellow) and Polish (white) populations. Wiercinski himself mentions that racial types are not necessarily equivalent to populational descent. This means that just because his classification identifies a skull as "black" it doesn't necessarily mean the person is from Africa. Many studies have demonstrated that there is more variability between members of the same race than there is between members of different races.
To make things worse, the skulls used by Wiercinski were in poor condition. Many were lacking important cranial features. Cranial measures are *AT BEST* correct about 85% of the time, and that is when all of the cranium is available to be measured, and the measurements are made by an expert. Remove one or two key cranial features and the confidence interval of racial classification drops to 70%. Remove three or more cranial features from your measurements and you are about as accurate as simply guessing.
Wiercinski's research methods and conclusions are not accepted by the vast majority of Mesoamerican scholars, in part because of his reliance on the Polish Comparative-Morphological methodology, as noted above, which limits the placement of skull types within a very narrow spectrum of Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. Native Americans are thus made to fit within these groups which often yields false and contradictory assumptions as a result of sample bias.
At this point one may say, "well this is only one side of an argument;" or "well, this is just what racist haters of black history are saying!" But the truth is - there is no argument, as indicated in this journal article which proposed an African Olmec origin but had to be retracted, because it had no proof. The African Olmec claims may work on the Afrocentric lecture tour, but they don't hold up under actual scientific scrutiny.
5. The Mound Builder Myth
The next set of claims come from the idea that we were the original Mound builders of the Mississippian cultures in and around present day Missouri, Ohio and southern Illinois. Understanding the background of these claims will give some much needed historical context to the whole landscape of literature relating to Pre-Columbian contact in general.
In the late 1700's, as European settlers in America began migrating West, they encountered large mounds, some as high as 10 stories tall. These well engineered ceremonial structures also included networks of villages. The extensive mound construction suggested that the Mississippians had a complex social structure. A strong leader would be necessary in order to carry out the planning and execution of building projects.
This intrigued the white American settlers but it also presented a problem. Who were the people who developed this advanced civilization? They saw the mounds not as proof of the skills of their Native American builders but as proof instead that the Native Americans could not have built them.How could the “merciless Indian savages”, as the Declaration of Independence called them, have built such a complicated society?
Hyperdiffusionism has also come to be known as a derogatory term for those who would seek to extrapolate a theory from a few odd pieces of fantastic archaeology or pseudo-archaeology in isolation from all other pieces of evidence and the received wisdom of the archaeological community. This is largely because the archaeological records have long since changed from this way of thinking and now understand and accept that technologies can be independently arrived at..Language, writing, pottery, clothing, and agriculture are among the many, many technological advances that were invented over and over again all over the world at different times and places.
Yet these theories persisted on through the 20th century and were eventually picked up by many black or Afrocentric scholars who liked the idea that Egypt (which they viewed as 'black') influenced or expanded into the Americas. The other appeal may be psychological. Assumed knowledge of the mysterious, the Divine, hidden and suppressed truths, and the fantastic seems far more interesting than learning the slow steady advances made in the archeological record.
Dr. Van Sertima picked up the literature from earlier hyperdiffusionists like Barry Fell, Leo Weiner and Alexander Von Wuthenau. Then, following in Van Sertima's footsteps are 'scholars' such as Dr. David Imhotep and Clyde Winters. Winters wrote a whole book entitled the 'Black Mound Builders of America.'
One main reason the pieces of evidence hyperdiffusionists present don't work or are unconvincing is because they usually come isolated from to any surrounding context or material culture. As noted by Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Museum Curator for the North Hertfordshire Museum:
"Archaeology is all about the material culture of human beings. We create a lot of stuff and we are generally quite careless about how we dispose of it. Even if we are careful, we still lose things accidentally. We litter the world with our creations. From potsherds to ocean-going ships, from butchered animal bones to weapons of slaughter, we make things and dispose of them...Forget texts: they are too easily forged. It’s rubbish that we need!"
6. Alexander Von Wunthenau
Another hyperdiffusionist or believer in Pre-Columbian contact is Alexander Von Wuthenau. He is cited by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima and many others an authoritative source proving the presence of Africans in Pre-Columbian America. But this source is terribly outdated. According to Von Wuthenau, “[t]he startling fact is that in all parts of Mexico, from Campeche in the east to the southeast of Guerrero, and from Chiapas, next to the Guatemalan border, to the Panuco River in the Huasteca region (north of Veracruz) archeological pieces representing Negro or Negroid people have been found, especially in archaic or pre-classic sites.
This also holds true for large sections of Mesoamerica and far into South America – Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru…”
For years the Diego Rivera Museum of Mexico housed the Alexander Von Wuthenau Collection of remarkable figurines depicting Black priests, chiefs, dancers, wrestlers, drummers, and others across the social spectrum. An examination of this artwork, wrote Van Sertima,
Frank Joseph,was was born as Francis Joseph Collin. Collin founded the National Socialist Party of America in 1970. Collin later went to prison for having sex with minors, was released in the mid-1980s, changed his name to Frank Joseph, and began writing books about various Old World peoples visiting the Americas before Columbus. Russell Burrows and Frank Joseph formed a relationship and Joseph became one of the largest supporters of Burrows and the cave artifacts.
Nothing here comes close to verifiable, historical proof of anything.
"To date, Russell Burrows is apparently the only person who has actually been inside the alleged cave. No one else has been allowed into it or given its location. The shadowy landowner's name is still unknown though many have guessed at his identity. The artifacts themselves are by all accounts ludicrous, obvious fakes created by someone who paged through various books, found likely-looking inscriptions, and copied them onto available pieces of stone.Several pieces have been recognized as copies of known artifacts that have been depicted in various books over the years, and Barry Fell commented that the "Elephant stele" was an obvious copy of one he depicted in his book America BC. The forger even copied a mistake Dr. Fell made on the transcription in the first edition, which allows the forgery to be dated to sometime after 1976."
More information about why the evidence is highly questionable can be found here. https://blogs.uoregon.edu/debunkingburrowscave/why-these-claims-are-false/ and here; https://www.criticalenquiry.org/burrowscave/burrows.shtml.
12. The Pyramids
This will be short. The basic story, which clearly represents hyperdiffusionism, is that Ancient Egyptians traveled to the Americas and showed the indigenous Americans how to build pyramids. The problem is that among the oldest pyramids in the world, are the Caral Pyramids in Supe Valley, Peru dated at 2627 B.C.
They are older than the Great Pyramid at Giza and the Egyptian Red Pyramid (2,600 B.C.) and the Pharaoh Sneferu's Bent Pyramid (2,600 B.C.) The only pyramid older than the Caral Pyramid complex is Imhotep/Djoser's Step Pyramid (2686–2613 B.C.)
Of course, an imaginative "researcher" could speculate that the Egyptians could have built their pyramid first and then transferred the technology to the Native Americans within a few decades. However, there is one problem; archaeologists have discovered pyramids in Brazil dating to 3,000 B.C. They are built from mollusk shells, and even if one discounts them as not being stone buildings, this indicates the architectural idea existed in indigenous American culture prior to any plausible Egyptian connection. There's not much left to debate.
13. Dr. David Imhotep
There is an interesting idea that because black people are the original people on the planet and "mongolians" or Asians came from a mix between black and white, the only population that could have been indigenous to America since 30,000 B.C or earlier are black people. This is based on a belief that Europeans only became pale 3,000 B.C.
First, while there was a DNA finding that Europeans only lightened recently, there wasn't a hard date of 3,000 B.C. There was an estimated range of about 6,000 years. "a new report on the evolution of a gene for skin color suggests that Europeans lightened up quite recently, perhaps only 6000 to 12,000 years ago." https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.316.5823.364a.
Second, Imhotep relies on the theory proposed by Walter Neves that there were two branches of Indigenous Americans, an earlier darker branch and a later (presumably paler) migration that came into America thousand of years later.
However, as we found in the Luzia section above, Dr. Neves theory was proven wrong by a more recent genetic study.
Finally, and most importantly, the notion that "mongolians" or 'Asians' necessarily came from a mix between black and white is unfounded. Research suggests that "Negroid" and "Mongoloid" populations diverged approximately 110,000 years ago.
Of course these findings aren't conclusive but they are more in tune with contemporary DNA studies.
In conclusion, the key takeaway is that 1) the current DNA evidence shows the indigenous population of North and South America come from one people that migrated out of Asia,and 2) there is no DNA evidence showing African DNA markers in the indigenous American populations. https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/family-tree-dna-study-confirms-native-americans-descended-single-ancestral-group?fbclid=IwAR0yrTHDMrxlq8BEigK70odBwKfPiY_A_jWat2IGLFabVnmRil4m43LC_ks
This chart should make it clear.
Also, take a moment to review the Hidden Colors 3 video and consider the quality of information being fed to our people. I won't comment on the psychology behind why these people present information in this manner, that might be a whole other article, but it's clear to see why so many are misled about this subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlqDYGdt6mE
* It is, however, interesting to note that DNA studies have shown an Australian/Melanesian presence in Indigenous American genes. https://www.livescience.com/south-american-australian-dna-connection.html However, this appears to have arisen about 800 years ago.
For a great overview of the current scientific understanding of the peopling of America, I would definitely recommend this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYK425sWziA.