Subject:      Re: yes, we have the proof: transpacific trading networks
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/08/31
Message-ID:   <5uc6bt$mks$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology,

[This is the second part of my long response to Bernard]

Bernard Ortiz de Montellano ([22] wrote:
: In article <5u7esa$dkk$>, [23]
: (Yuri Kuchinsky 17784) wrote:


> J. Wilfrid Jackson. 1916. ³The Money Cowry as a Sacred Object Among
> North American Indians,² *Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester
> Library and Philosophical Society* 40/4. Says that the shells originate
> in the Indian Ocean area but was valued and used as money in Africa,
> Oceania, and North America as well as Asia [BOM at least he does not
> have the chutzpa to pin point the source to a single group of islands]
> J. Wilfrid Jackson. 1916. ³Pre-Columbian Use of Money Cowry in America
> [letter to the editor]² *Nature* 98: 48-49. This shell *Cypraea sp* [BOM
> notice that he is only giving the genus not the species-- so are we sure
> that he was always speaking of *C. Moneta*?] was used as money and
> considered a symbol of life with many magical accompaniments from the
> eastern Mediterranean and southern Asia to Melanesia, Polynesia, and
> America.

So far so good. Again, you ask many questions, and I hope that you will
make some effort to find answers to them.

> Bottom line: This shell is everywhere.

C. Moneta certainly does not occur naturally everywhere. That it's found
"everywhere" in secure archaeological contexts is precisely the point I'm
trying to make.

> It is so common as to mean
> nothing if it was diffused to Norway, the Mediterranean, Africa, India,
> Melanesia, Polynesia, Oceania, southern Asia and North America the
> claims are so extreme that they are meaningless.

True, this information is extremely interesting and, if confirmed, it will
be extremely meaningful. It may open up a whole new way to look at ancient
history... What is meaningless, very strange, and rather indicative of the
rather stale intellectual climate in this field of study is the refusal of
the mainstream scholars to pay attention to this research by Carter for so
many years.

> No evidence is provided
> that 1) all these cowries are in fact *C. Moneta* quoting Carter or
> Heyerdahl is worthless because they have proved to be unreliable and
> uncritical time and again-- we need primary sources and qualified
> zoologists;

Well, go and find zoologists to look at it. Making snide and baseless digs
at these great scientific pioneers is very indicative of the bitterness
that many more dogma-bound scholars will feel as future progress in
scholarship passes them by while they're left behind to throw tantrums at
the sidelines of history.

> 2) When all this was supposed to have happened; 3) How
> exactly was this done-- did the people of the Maldives at 500 A.D. Have
> outrigger canoes and the navigational skills to sail everywhere in the
> world including rounding the Cape of Good Hope?

Read the book. I haven't got the time right now to summarize it for you.
Heyerdahl explains all this in detail.

> How, exactly, did the
> Maldivians return home from Norway? Perhaps they made balsa rafts from
> the Norwegian woods or flew home on a magic Indian carpet?

This clearly betrays how little you know about this subject, which in any
case would never stop you from pretending to make authoritative judgements
about it. C. Moneta came to Scandinavia, at least at a later stage,
through the Arab controlled trade routes going through Persia. This is all
documented quite well.

> >From the *American Heritage* dictionary: cowry; ³Any of various
> tropical marine mollusks of the family *Cypraeidae* having glossy often
> brightly marked shells, some of which are used as money in the South
> Pacific and Africa.² So if Jacksonıs original sources used the word
> cowry and not the specific species there is quite a lot of room for
> error.

This is irrelevant. We're talking about C. Moneta.

> >From the *Encyclopedia Britannica* ³Any marine snail of the subclass
> *Prosobranchia* (class Gastropoda) comprising the genus *Cypraea* family
> *Cypraeidae.... Cowries occur chiefly in the coastal waters of the
> Indian and Pacific oceans [BOM so that they did not have to be imported
> to the Pacific from the Maldives!!]. The 10 cm (4 inch) golden cowrie
> (*C.  Aurantum*) is worn by royalty in the Pacific Islands [BOM so other
> species besides the money cowry have ritual significance], (*C. Moneta*)
> a 2.5 cm (1 in) yellow species has served as currency in Africa and
> elsewhere.²

That other kinds of cowry were also valued in some places is interesting,
but nevertheless one still would like to know how these customs
originated.  Perhaps in the Pacific these customs were originally
introduced using imported Indian Ocean cowries.

> Very strange that on their way to New York and the Iroquois via the Cape
> of Good Hope and the Caribbean the Maldivians neglected to impart their
> goodies to Indians in South and Central America. Perhaps because there
> are a number of species of cowries in Latin America. See Luis Cendrero.
> 1971.  *Zoologia Hispanoamericana. Invertebrados* Mexico: Editorial
> Porrua.

So? The direct relevance of this to this discussion is not immediately

> Sorry, Yuri

Sorry, Bernard, but your objections do not seem to be very significant so
far. This still remains an extremely interesting case that may hold the
key to our understanding of and ability to solve many puzzles of ancient

Even the fact itself that Carter has been trying to draw everyone's
attention to these fascinating problems for many years, and yet obviously
no significant counter-arguments have been formulated by anyone as yet,
speaks for itself. I dare say that had any of the usual "professional
debunkers" made some good counter-arguments, they would have had much less
difficulty to publish their critiques than Carter had to publish his

As far as Thor Heyerdahl's contribution to this is concerned, I would like
to break the news to Bernard that Heyerdahl WAS THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL
SCHOLAR EVER TO INVESTIGATE the extremely interesting prehistory of the
Maldives. He gives all the details in his book. NO PROFESSIONAL
ARCHAEOLOGIST BEFORE HIM ever came to the Maldives, since, for a number of
political and historical reasons, this has been an extremely isolated and
inward-looking country for many centuries. NOTHING OF THE MALDIVES'
EXTREMELY RICH PREHISTORY was known until Heyerdahl opened up this whole
new area of research. The strong connection of the Maldives with the still
rather mysterious ancient Indus Valley civilization is clear now. The
obviously important geographical position of the Maldives, at the cross
roads of important maritime trade routes has escaped everyone's attention
before Heyerdahl.

Bernard can make all the snide and uninformed comments he wishes, but none
of this will make even a little dent in the GREAT AND UNIQUE



Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [24]

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than
to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith

Click here to go one level up in the directory.