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Re: You Want Evidence of Contact? Here It Is.....
There are some important points which I think you may have overlooked in
your excellent response (below).
I believe that syphillis was a disease which was transmitted to the old
world from the new. There are mummies in South America, for example, which
date back to the Chavin era. Tests, as you know, can be run to determine
the age of many infective organisms.
Tuberculosis (? spell) is another one of those strain-identifable diseases
whose origins indicate many new world varieties were passed to the old
following the arrival of the Spanish.
Smallpox was definitely brought to Yucatan by the Spanish. The number of
texts describing the deaths of perhaps 90% of the population abound.
Colds appear to have been distributed, but the data here is fuzzy because
of the ability of cold viruses to rapidly mutate.
On the question of Florida. I believe the Tequesta were pretty much wiped
out by the time of the Spanish missions. Therefore you would have probably
had an immunized audience by the time the Spaniards decided to do some
occupation in North Florida.
The Spanish chronicles, of which many remain, can attest to the rapidity at
which the "Indians" died as a result of "first" contact. I have asked
Lawrence Feldman, by copy of this posting to sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,
to comment on these documents. Larry, who is based in Washington D.C., is
a scholar specializing in colonial Spanish history. He, better than all of
us collectively, can comment on the impact of new world diseases on the
Spanish and their ability to govern their newly founded colonies.
Larry can probably expand on the fact that the Inca Empire was
substantially crippled by the spreading smallpox epidemic and this epidemic
drastically reduced their ability to resist Pizarro and his merry men when
the Spaniards finally arrived in Cuzco.
If you go back and read the history of New England as written by the early
English colonists you will discover that they encountered a vast area,
virtually all of New England, where the Indians had been nearly all killed
by a massive epidemic which spread just prior to their arrival.
Epidemiologists now have a good indication this epidemic was smallpox. The
English settlers incidentally interpreted this mass extinct to God's will
and this was the beginning of the Europeans' belief that God had given them
In sum, all of this suggests that there were pools of people on this earth
who did not share a large body of diseases. The diseases which appear not
to have been shared are epidemics and sexually transmitted diseases spread
by human contact.
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote in article
> .This is very important. Even though it is not possible to
> .that something did not occur, we have som circumstancial indications
> .important human contact occurred for at least several millenia before
> .thing. That indication is disease. It is very difficult, for many of
> .worried about the depopulation of the Americas after contact, to
> .how some other human contact could have occurred 100, 200 or 1000 years
> .before 1492 without simultaneously exchanging germs along with
> .domesticates. Humans are biological entities, and as such they are not
> .of serving as unwilling hosts of all kinds of germs and parasites, like
> .for instance.
> .Could anybody propose a scenario in which the purported contact take
> .without exchanging those pesky germs? I cannot think of any.
> Actually, I thought your post was very funny. I don't think it was
> Now . . .
> The following is not to be taken as an argument for diffusion; my stance
> on that subject is pretty well established elswhere on this ng.
> But -- I'm at the University of Georgia where Charles Hudson and
> associates have been working on the "lost" centuries of the Spanish
> Southeastern United States, circa 1521-1705. It's been a long project.
> One thing that came out was that the military expeditions -- De Soto,
> Tristan de Luna, Narvaez, etc. Probably did not spread the epedimic
> diseases like smallpox. The reason for this is fairly simple; once you
> get (let's use smallpox) you either die or get well within the space of a
> few weeks. Once you get well, you are immune. On a long ocean voyage,
> the disease most likely makes the rounds before you can get to the new
> world; if one of Soto's men is infected at the start of the voyage, the
> shipboard epedemic is over by the end of it, and no one is contagious.
> There is some good literature on this now -- I can provide citations if
> wanted. And it's more complicated than this, obviously -- some diseases
> have a more complex life cycle than small pox.
> Where did the disease come from? Because there WAS disease. Probably
> from the established colonies and missions in the Carribean, where
> populations of Europeans were higher and there was a lot more ship
> traffic. Epidemilogists assure us that -- while the spread of disease by
> expeditions remains a finite possibility, it was the established
> that did the most damage.
> Another point: you will notice that the Vikings do not seem to have
> epidemics: the Polynesians (for instance) would not have either, for the
> same reason. Diseases like Small Pox have to have a rather large
> contiguos population to survive -- upwards of about 200,000. Otherwise,
> everybody in the society either dies or gets immunity and the disease
> peters out. With high numbers, it can make the rounds and then come back
> to people who weren't born the first time through.
> You may remember that the Polynesians were as devestated by European
> disease as anyone else. The epidemic diseases were likely not a problem
> anywhere when they pushed off from the Asian mainland.
> I don't know about the Shang. They certainly had a dense enough
> population to support the big killers, but whether there is evidence of
> or not, I do not know.
> 1. You can have a few shipwrecks of pretty much anyone you want in the
> World, with negligible risk of spreading epidemics. Large colonies and
> repeated contact increase the chances.
> 2. You can have contact with people from societies which have low
> population density, too.
> -Greg Keyes