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Forget Gourds and Chickens--Look At REALITY!
Bear with me and read all of what I have to say. There are a number of
important points buried in here. As a field archaeologist, I think my
qualifications allow me to make the following statements:
Discussing the gourd makes absolutely no sense. If a plant is capable of
germinating by itself after being carried on ocean currents, then it is
quite likely it came from someplace else by itself. To make this argument
hold water, we would need to find a gourd of foreign origin in an
archaeological context. This has not been done--not because no one did it,
but because nothing has turned up in archaeological projects. On the
otherhand, there are plants like corn which rely on humans to survive.
Corn has been so heavily modified even in very ancient times that it is
virtually impossible for it to survive on its own. May be a bird or mouse
could plant a kernel or two, but that's it. Gourds and coconuts can float
for months, wash up on a shore and germinate. Libraries are filled with
this information. Check if you need to. We can track diffusion by
tracking the expansion of corn.
Now to bring this matter into perspective. When the Spanish showed up
there were approximately 90 MILLION PEOPLE--yes that's right--ninety
million people--occupying the New World. These were the remains of great
cultures spanning thousands of years. Their traditions and beliefs were
unlike anything Europeans had ever encountered. Same from the handful of
people from Polynesia. We're talking big population numbers here. Given
this do you think it would mean squat if someone came toting a gourd,
coconut or chicken? Give me a break!
Petty arguments of gourds, squash, chickens and coconuts are made by people
who have no idea what they're talking about but like to stir up
controversy. The indigenous American was far too civilized to have needed
jump starting from some archaic preindustrial society. The only reason the
Spanish conquered them was that the Spanish were nothing but thugs and the
people of the New World were to civilized to adequately deal with them.
Sometimes some people, particularly Yuri, should put away those rags
they've been reading and head to a real library containing thousands of
project reports from archaeologists throughout the New World. Maybe then
and only then will they begin to grasp the magnitude of the work going on.
Archaeology is a multi-disciplined science today involving chemists,
physicists, pathologists, medical doctors of every specialty, geologists,
botanists, biologists and hundreds more. There never were any Indiana
Jones kind of guys. That's fiction. The Howard Carter's of the 1920s
(King Tut's tomb) haven't been around for 40 years. Archaeology is not
about digging up "stuff". It is a total effort. Whenever we study a site
we study it methodically and totally. Research goes on more in the lab
today than anywhere else.
Whenever I see rookies talking about these amazing secrets we are keeping
from the public I have to laugh and ask myself, "Why do I care if chickens
crossed the road before?" It would be a neat idea for then we could go to
the Old World and see exactly how contact with the New World improved their
lives. Bill Fash, Director of the Copan Project, epitomizes the kind of
thought I'm trying to make. For years the great site of Copan was called
the "Athens of the New World". Bill was right on when he said recently.
History has it reversed. "Athens should be called the Copan of the Old