Subject:      Amerindian navigators
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/07/14
Message-ID:   <5qebiv$9da$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,sci.archaeology.mesoamerican


I have posted here already a quote from Williams indicating how badly is
he uninformed about the great navigational achievements of ancient S.
Americans. Here it is again:

[begin quote:]

from Stephen Williams, FANTASTIC ARCHAEOLOGY, University of Pennsylvania
Press, 1991.

"It is much more likely that the Polynesians with their proven maritime
prowess once went to S. America and returned with the sw. potato than that
some essentially landlocked Andean cultures, with only minimal coastal
fish harvesting to their credit, were the founders of a dynasty on Easter
Island... [contra Heyerdahl]" (p. 233)

[end quote]

Landlocked? Landlocked, indeed! I think it is certain scholars'
perceptions that seem to be "locked" in this case...

And further I wrote:

[begin quote]

If only Williams bothered to read the early historical accounts of the
Spanish invaders to see that the Incas, although based in the highlands,
controlled a huge maritime trading network run by their allies, the
Chincha, on the coast! Williams needs some remedial learning here in a
hurry... When Pizarro arrived on the coast in 1532, all that was still in
evidence, although one needs to note that that amazing maritime
civilization of Chincha collapsed very quickly after the Spanish influence
was firmly established.

[end quote]

And later, Bernard Ortiz de Montellano questioned the veracity of this
information, thereby also indicating his lack of familiarity with this
important area. No wonder he's still insisting against all odds that sw.
potato was not brought over to Polynesia by ancient mariners...

There's nothing wrong in not knowing something. All of us have gaps in our
education in different areas. But later Bernard started to attack
Heyerdahl who was the first among modern historians to try to rescue this
area from obscurity. And this is hardly an attitude that is conducive to
learning new things, I should say...

In any case, here's Bernard:

[21] wrote:

: I would like for you to post the original
: Spanish contemporaneous sources or articles by recognized authorities on
: the Inca to support these claims. A popular book by Heyerdahl is not
: sufficient-- after all we are not talking of his own personal
: experiences here, but of his scholarship and research-- which I have
: shown to be completely unreliable in my area of expertise. Bernard Ortiz
: de Montellano

Heyerdahl is only one author of PYRAMIDS OF TUCUME, 1995. This is a
scholarly volume with all the necessary refs. In it, Heyerdahl focuses on
Peru, and omits Ecuador that has a more ancient ocean sailing raft

In this book, Heyerdahl writes:

"It has for too long been assumed that all Peruvians in pre-Columbian
times had neither the vessels nor daring to take them further than inshore
fishing in the crudest of craft. This misconception stemmed from the
dearth of information concerning daily life along the coast prior to the
Inca period. Only in the last 30 years have archaeologists turned their
attention to a great number of coastal sites where they have found that
communities in the pre-Inca period based their economy to a great extent
on fishing and maritime trade." (p. 15)

Further, Heyerdahl writes that the Europeans were mostly after gold, and

"... The conquered coastal peoples, from whom the wealthy Incas had
forcibly acquired most of their wealth, left only a slight impression on
the newcomers from Europe and their chroniclers. The little information
the chroniclers did record of their first meeting with Peruvians along the
coast is therefore of great importance." (p. 15)

The sources that Heyerdahl is using for his analysis of early Amerindian
navigation are as follows: Samanos (1844 [1526]: 196); Estete (1992
[1534]); Prescott (1847), and a few others.

I'm not sure how serious Bernard really is about wishing to learn about
all this. Of course if he's really interested, and not simply trying to
sidetrack this whole conversation, or if someone else is interested, I can
provide more information.

I'm a little hesitant to point people again and again to MAN ACROSS THE
SEA. But what can I do if this is a very valuable source for this and many
other related matters... So few people seem to have read this, it seems...
There's plenty about S. American navigation there.

Meanwhile, for the really serious scholar, the best single source for this
seems to be:  Edwards, Clinton R., ABORIGINAL WATERCRAFT ON THE PACIFIC
COAST OF SOUTH AMERICA, 1965, Univ. of California Press. This whole volume
is a detailed and very competent study that, it seems, very few people are
aware of.

Best regards,


Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [22]

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

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