Subject:      Re: American map on Phoenician coins? (was: Phonecians in America
, Iceland
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/04/26
Message-ID:   <5jtf36$k31$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,soc.history.ancient,sci.skeptic

And here's an article from a Mount Holyoke College publication with more
info about these coins. He published his work in NUMISMATIST journal of
last November. Also another article -- with an image! -- is available on
his home page at:


So people can take a look for themselves what that thing is all about...


   New Views

   IF MOUNT HOLYOKE geologist Mark McMenamin is right, neither Columbus
   nor the Vikings were the first non-natives to set foot on the
   Americas. McMenamin's theory is based on coins he believes contain the
   oldest world maps in existence. The author of a 1994 book, Hypersea:
   Life on Land (cowritten with his wife, Dianna), which unveiled a new
   theory of the genesis of terrestrial life, he may now have made
   another important discovery --one that sheds radical new light on
   present conceptions of the classical world and on the discovery of the
   New World.

   Working with computer-enhanced images of gold coins minted in the
   North African city of Carthage between 350 and 320 BC, McMenamin has
   interpreted a series of designs appearing on these coins, the meaning
   of which has long puzzled scholars. McMenamin believes that the
   designs represent a map of the ancient world, including the area
   surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and a land mass representing the

   If this is true, these coins not only represent the oldest world maps
   found to date, but would also indicate that Carthaginian explorers had
   sailed to the New World a good 1,300 years before the Vikings.

   It was his interest in the Carthaginians and Phoenicians as explorers
   that led McMenamin to study the gold coins, known as staters. The
   Carthaginians were closely linked to the Phoenicians of the Middle
   East in terms of culture, language, and naval enterprise. Both peoples
   are widely credited with significant sailing exploits through the
   Mediterranean, to the British Isles, and along the coast of Africa.

   On one of the coins studied by McMenamin, a horse stands atop a number
   of symbols at the bottom of the stater. For many years, scholars
   interpreted these symbols as letters in Phoenician script. When that
   theory was discounted in the 1960s, scholars were baffled. Using a
   computer to enlarge and enhance these images on the coins, the
   geologist --aided by his familiarity with land masses and shifting
   tectonic plates-- was able to interpret the design as a representation
   of the Mediterranean, surrounded by the land masses of Europe and
   Africa with, to the upper left, the British Isles. To the far left of
   the representation of the Mediterranean is what the geologist believes
   is a depiction of the Americas.

   A number of classical texts bolster this theory. For example, in the
   first century BC, Diodorus of Sicily wrote " ... in the deep off
   Africa is an island of considerable size ... fruitful, much of it
   mountainous ... Through it flow navigable rivers. ... The Phoenicians
   had discovered it by accident after having planted many colonies
   throughout Africa."

   "I was just the lucky person who had the geologic and geographic
   expertise to view these coins in a new light," notes McMenamin. "I
   have been interested in the Carthaginians as the greatest explorers in
   the history of the world."

   McMenamin's study of the coins prompted him to master the Phoenician
   language. He has published two pamphlets on his work regarding the
   Carthaginian coins. One is written in ancient Phoenician, representing
   probably the first new work in that language in 1,500 years.

   The Numismatist, a leading journal in the study of coins, has accepted
   McMenamin's paper on the theory and will publish his findings this
   fall. At the same time, the scholar is trying to gain access to a
   number of coins --or casts of their impressions-- currently held in
   European collections. These impressions will further aid him, he
   hopes, in proving the world map theory's validity. "If I had the time
   and the money," McMenamin observes, only half-kidding, "I'd be in
   North Africa with my metal detector trying to find Carthaginian coins
   to further confirm my hypothesis."

   Additional study may well reveal that it was explorers based in
   Africa, not Europe, who "discovered" the New World. At the very least,
   McMenamin hopes his theory will focus new scholarly attention on
   ancient Carthaginian culture. Who Discovered the Americas?




   [Mark McMenamin]

   Geologist Mark McMenamin, whose interpretation of an ancient coin
   design suggests that explorers from Africa, not Europe, "discovered"
   the New World.


   [Overview of coin]

   This detail of a gold coin shows what McMenamin believes is a map of
   the Mediterranean area, surrounded by Europe, Britain, Africa, and (at
   left) the Americas. The image appears on coins minted in Carthage
   between 350 and 320 BC.

   Illustrations courtesy of Mark McMenamin

   [Detail of coin]

Yuri Kuchinsky   | "Where there is the Tree of Knowledge, there
     -=-         | is always Paradise: so say the most ancient
 in Toronto      | and the most modern serpents."  F. Nietzsche
 ----- my webpage is for now at: [23] -----

Click here to go one level up in the directory.