6.0085 Rs: "Discovery" (3/95)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 17 Jun 1992 17:43:25 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0085. Wednesday, 17 Jun 1992.

(1) Date: Tue, 16 Jun 92 16:57:48 ECT (52 lines)
From: Martin Raish <MRAISH@BINGVMB>
Subject: Pre-Columbian Voyages

(2) Date: Wed,17 Jun 92 13:56:47 BST (21 lines)
From: J.M.Reeves@vme.glasgow.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 6.0083 More Rs: "Americas"

(3) Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1992 07:57:29 (22 lines)
From: koontz@alpha (John E. Koontz)
Subject: Re: 6.0083 More Rs: "Americas"

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 92 16:57:48 ECT
From: Martin Raish <MRAISH@BINGVMB>
Subject: Pre-Columbian Voyages

HUMANIST is probably not the appropriate place to enter into a
protracted discussion of pre-Columbian voyages to the New World,
but since I was the one who first mentioned the subject and
provoked the response that there is no proof of such journeys, I
would like to add just a few comments.

Whether or not there is PROOF for these depends on how you define
the concept. As several people have already noted, the site of
L'Anse aux Meadows "proves" to the satisfaction of a great number
of people (even to those who do not accept it as the fabled
Vinland) that the Norse were in Newfoundland a long time ago.
To other scholars pottery sherds from Ecuador "prove" that
Japanese fishermen were there about 3000 BC. And the list goes
on: Asiatic chickens in South America; yams in Polynesia and the
Americas; Old World diseases (such as syphilis) in America before
Columbus; games (Patolli/Pachisi); genetic affinities and
anomalies; the musical bow; folk-tales -- the number of
similarities is staggering

Today very few investigators deny that pre-Columbian crossings
were made. The evidence to the contrary is abundant. The issue
now is to what degree the pre-Columbian American people and their
cultures were dependent on or independent of those in the Old

Our bibliography attempts to make the voluminous literature on
this topic more accessible, so that researchers will be less
likely to reach erroneous conclusions because they were unaware
of previously published work. We tried to include every
viewpoint, both diffusionist and anti-diffusionist, by scholars
and laymen alike, and to draw from all fields of study that
seemed able to shed light on the problem. (The only categories
we intentionally excluded were extraterrestrials and sunken
continents such as Atlantis and Lemuria.)

After having sifted through thousands of items we could not
escape the impression that numerous voyages did cross the oceans,
and in several places. Yet we have too little information to
arrive at a firm conclusion as to whether these voyages produced
substantial cultural, linguistic or biological impacts. We only
hope that others will use the materials we have gather to do not
only more research, but *better* research as well.

Martin Raish
Main Library, Box 6012
State University of New York at Binghamton
Binghamton NY 13902-6012
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------32----
Date: Wed,17 Jun 92 13:56:47 BST
From: J.M.Reeves@vme.glasgow.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 6.0083 More Rs: "Americas"

I taught school in St. Anthony Newfoundland, a few miles south of the Viking
settlement. The fact the Vikings were once there affects the lives of the
villagers. It is probably the most interesting thing that has happened
up there (nothing much happens except fishing and unemployment and day to day
living). Tourists come the 300 miles north from Deer Lake through remote
areas to see the Vikings' remains: they may come by Viking Bus, shop at Viking
Mall, stay at the Viking Motel . . .

People complain about the overuse of the word: "Viking this and Viking that"
they say, but probably it will be with them for a *long* time!

If you are in the mood for a feeling of remoteness and perfect quiet (except
for the wind), Newfoundland may be the place for you. They say the road is now
paved all the way up to St. Anthony (a real treat) but you'll still find
the effects of the Vikings' stay in many unexpected contexts.

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------31----
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1992 07:57:29
From: koontz@alpha (John E. Koontz)
Subject: Re: 6.0083 More Rs: "Americas"

Marc Eisinger:

> OK. If the Viking went to Newfoundland, and I admit they did, before
> Columbus, what did it change to the history of the Americas : nothing, to
> the history of the "Old world" : nothing. So, once again, who cares ?

It seems singularly narrow to regard something as uninteresting if it has no
perceptible impact on oneself, but perhaps I am misinterpreting something.
I missed the beginning of this exchange.

Norse presence in the northeastern corner of the Americas has had, as far as
I know, no known impact on the later history of the Americas, but it had a
definite impact on the Norse, who made some use of the resources of the
region to support their tenuous settlements in Greenland. Beyond this
immediate impact, their visits to this area left definite traces in Old
World history: they wrote accounts of the visits - history, in short - and
these accounts led directly to the archaeological investigations.