Subject:      Re: how did the chicken cross the ocean from Asia?
From:         "Larry J. Elmore" 
Date:         1997/05/02
Message-ID:   <01bc5691$d2a4e5c0$3f6700cf@default>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology

> 3. Both the Mongols and Plains Indians were proficient at archery from
> horseback (as were Japanese Samurai, Kazahks, etc.)  The Spanish were
> not.

Of course the Spaniards were not. The main weapons of their armored
knights were the lance and the sword. The Indians had the lance and were
quite proficient in its use. The only projectile weapon they had was the
bow.  They _had_ to become proficient horse archers or else abandon the
bow. If this concept came from Asia, why didn't they keep the composite
recurve bow that had been in use in Asia from ancient times instead of
regressing to the simple reflex bow? I don't think that the Plains Indians
were very proficient as horse archers anyway, not compared to the Mongols,
Huns, Scythians, etc, of the Old World. They rode right up next to a
buffalo on the run, for example, and loosed their arrows at point blank
range. In warfare, they most often used the lance. They conducted mostly
raids, not the large scale battles of the Old World. 


I don't think the Plains Indians got their first horses from the Spanish,
either. But I don't think they came from Central Asia, either. The Indian
ponies certainly didn't resemble the Spanish barbs and Andalusians any
more than labs resemble dobermans in the dog world. They were much
smaller, and extremely varicolored (a trait the Spanish despised and bred
out of their horses). A French explorer (Radisson) penetrated west of the
Great Lakes in 1661-64 among the Cree and Assiniboine. He reported that
the neighboring Sioux were ferocious warriors and almost invincible on
horseback, but were relatively helpless when it came to canoes and water.
If the Sioux were mounted warriors as early as this, there's just no way
these horses could have come from the Spanish (even ignoring the obvious
physical differences), even if other tribes had captured a handful from
Coronado.  Cortes brought the first Spanish horses to the continent in
1519. It's unlikely that any got loose, certainly not as a breeding
population, at this time. His horses were under strict guard at all times
and those lost were lost in battle (some captured by the Aztecs and
sacrificed along with Spanish prisoners). It wasn't until later years that
any could have escaped. They then would have had to breed at absolutely
prodigious rates to enable peoples of the northern plains to become
mounted warriors in less than 140 years after their supposed introduction
to the continent. 

Now it is known that the Vikings used horses and brought them to Iceland
and Greenland. They are relatively small, varicolored ponies. They also
released them to run wild. They captured new horses from the wild herds
and also hunted and ate them at need. The Vikings are known to have had a
settlement in Newfoundland. It would be ridiculous to presume that they
didn't also visit the mainland, only a few hours sail away (though
apparently some anthropologists hold to that view). This would explain
both the physical characteristics of the Indian ponies and give the horses
500 more years to breed and spread across the continent, and to be
domesticated and used by the Plains Indians. 

Larry J. Elmore
Bozeman, Montana

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