Today we look back on the European migration to North America as one of the results of a more enlightened age. When we do this, we forget that the American Indians migrated to North and South America from Asia and built their own culture long before the Europeans. If what a Texas Christian University linguist says is true, the Olmec Indians of the American Southwest and Central America may not have been Indians at all.
Linguist Mike Xu has spent several years studying 3,000 year old Olmec jade, stone and pottery relics. The Olmec civilization appeared abruptly, as if from out of nowhere, about 1200 B.C. As he examined the hundreds of symbols on the relics, it struck him that the Olmec symbols look very much like the Chinese writing of the same period. Olmec art is also very much like the Chinese art of the same period. He added that Olmec religious practices were very similar to Chinese religious practices of the time. For example, both cultures put jade beads in the mouths of the dead to ward off evil. Xu concludes, "The similarities are just too striking to be a coincidence."
An entire civilization begun and perhaps supported by ships sailing from China implies a sophisticated transpacific shipping system. Perhaps we need to revise our evolutionary system for evaluating ancient history and give credit to people who were just as curious and resourceful as we are today.
Notes: Discover, 2/00, p. 20, "Chinatown 1000 B.C." Photo: Courtesy of John Hill. (CC-BY-SA 3.0).
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