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Re: You Want Evidence of Contact? Here It Is.....

..This is very important.  Even though it is not possible to scientifically
..that something did not occur, we have som circumstancial indications that
..important human contact occurred for at least several millenia before the
..thing.  That indication is disease.  It is very difficult, for many of us

..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 colonies
that did the most damage.

Another point: you will notice that the Vikings do not seem to have caused
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 it
or not, I do not know.

1. You can have a few shipwrecks of pretty much anyone you want in the New
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

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