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They Came Before Columbus...and what?!?

I read They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America by Ivan Van Sertima. I wasn’t halfway through this book and I was thoroughly offended, but I finished it just to hear their point of view.

I don’t buy it.

The belief that Africans were in the Americas before the Europeans were makes sense to me. There is plenty of proof of intercontinental contact world wide. Even evolution depends on intercontinental travel, I don’t see why it would just stop once the lands were populated. However, the offense lies in the implication that the indigenous people of the Americas were empty-headed morons just waiting, with open arms, for someone to come and guide them to civilization. As much as Van Sertima states that he is not seeking to imply this, his claims that the advances in agriculture, textiles, architecture, ancient academics and most all things upon which civilization is based upon is thanks to the African guidance. He even correlates the Africans arrival at the same time the Olmec civilization was booming!

One of the points Van Sertima makes, that I found intriguing for a minute was the megalithic Olmec heads. These huge carved heads have thick lips and flat noses and he places these images side by side with pictures of West African people who have similar features. He goes as far as to suggest that these carved images were possibly made to glorify these black leaders who have taught them so much! (argh!) What I found confusing was that although his comparison was of West African features, these black leaders that were supposed to have been canonized by a grateful indigenous population supposedly came from East Africa. The physical features of East African people are very different from those of West Africa, and nothing like the Olmec heads.

And apparently Van Sertima never considered that Mongolian features include thick lips and flat noses, too.

From a Native perspective, this book is the same garbage that the Europeans have been dishing out since they got here. Not once does the author consider the possibility that maybe the indigenous folks from over here went to Africa to school them, instead. I mean, considering the world’s oldest mummy is Chinchorro, from Chile, and the mummification processes are similar- including the removal of the internal organs and the placing of a mask over the face- the thought that this technology came from Egypt to the Americas doesn’t make sense. The oldest known Egyptian mummy was dated around 3500 B.C. while the Chinchorro mummy was dated at 6000 B.C. Do the math!

It is also interesting to note that although the Mayan pyramids are younger than those in Egypt, there have been pyramids found under Japanese waters that date 5000 years (at least) earlier than the oldest Egyptian pyramid, the Saqqara. This makes one wonder about who went where, especially since genetics are now showing that the Native American came from Asia to the American continent- maybe some just continued the journey all the way to Africa and taught them how to make pyramids also. And what of the megalithic Bolivian structures of Pumapunku and Teotihuacan, that are estimated to be 17,000 years old, yet their design makes the Saqqara look like child’s play! These ruins baffle scientists not only because the blocks used to build it weighed in at over 100 tons a piece; the cuts and fittings between them are so precise that their very creation is a mystery. And the materials the blocks are made of, dolomite, can only be cut by diamond tipped cutting tools!

The fact that there are pyramids all over the world is used by afrocentrists to prove that the technology was introduced by Black people. Yet this “evidence” is also used by those who say that extraterrestrials were the creators of these pyramids, because human beings- particularly ancient, indigenous human beings, could not have figured out how to make these huge structures all on their own. Especially when modern architects say they can’t make them with the tools available at that time themselves!

Just as it’s not cool to say that Africans were not intelligent enough to build the pyramids, it’s not cool to attempt to elevate your ethnic group by disparaging another. There is no need to deny the advances that belong to Black people; I can drive my automatic transmission car, in air conditioning while eating a peanut butter sandwich thanks to the inventions of Black people! But there is also no need to take away from the advances of the Native American Indian people to pad Black history. It’s just as debasing as the Eurocentric view is, and just as sadly desperate.

Give me a break.

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Comment by carmen mendez on June 6, 2009 at 3:22pm
I know how this can get out of hand with back and forth over issues like this, but out of respect for the recently deceased I feel a need to at least share that Ivan Van Sertima did reply to the critics that you mention above. It is published in a book called 'Early America Revisited' under a chapter called "reply to my critics". I found a portion of it online and have pasted it below.

Everyone needs to form their own conclusion over issues like this. All we can do is find and look at as much evidence as possible, then each person must assess it finally for themselves. With a thought to at least be fair to Dr. Van Sertima, I have contributed his response to the critics. He does say much more in response to them in his book, but this is a sampling. I find his work to be legitimate and at least worthy of open minded consideration. After all Dr. Ivan Van Sertima is also of Indigenous Ancestry as he states below, from a people who may not be all that distantly related to our own ancestors. After all this man did spend years studying this, so let's not be too quick to judge.


Reply to My Critics

by Ivan Van Sertima

An attack on my thesis that Africans made contact with America before Columbus in two major pre-Christian periods (circa 1200 b.c. and circa 800 b.c.) in addition to the Mandingo contact period (1310/1311 A.D.) has been circulated in advance to hundreds of subscribers to a journal, Current Anthropology. Copies of this attack by Bernard de Montellano, Warren Barbour and Gabriel Haslip-Viera were also sent out to African-American scholars, some of whom were cited in the attack, dishonestly titled "Van Sertima's Afrocentricity and the Olmecs." The title's emphasis is meant to suggest that all revisions of African history by so-called "Blacks" belong to a common school, radiate from a common brain, and are cast in the same "racialist" hue and mode. This circular, which precedes my new book, REPLY TO MY CRITICS (scheduled to appear in Sept), seeks to highlight the brazen and malicious lies, slanders and misrepresentations that characterize this attack. Let it be noted that I was invited to respond to this attack but was forced to withdraw. The editor, after verbally agreeing that I could reprint my commentary, after the issue of the Journal appeared, did a dramatic about-turn when pressed to sign a written agreement to back up his word. He wrote that I could only reprint my "commentary" (15 pages) if I also reprinted the attack on me (50 pages) since "they form a unit." To feel the full absurdity of this, just imagine the Jewish Defense League being forced to republish an extended Nazi-type attack on their positions in order to republish a brief response to such a slanderous attack.

LIE ONE: - "Van Sertima's expedition allegedly sailed or drifted westward to the Gulf of Mexico where it came in contact with inferior Olmecs. These individuals created Olmec civilization." - De Montellano, Barbour and Haslip-Viera.

THE TRUTH: As far back as 1976, I made my position on this matter very clear. I never said that Africans created or founded American civilization. I said they made contact and all significant contact between two peoples lead to influences. "I think it is necessary to make it clear - since partisan and ethnocentric scholarship seems to be the order of the day - that the emergence of the Negroid face, which the archeological and cultural data overwhelmingly confirm, in no way presupposes the lack of a native originality, the absence of other influences or the automatic eclipse of other faces"-p. 147 of "They Came Before Columbus." See also Journal of African Civilizations, Vol 8, No. 2, 1986 "I cannot subscribe to the notion that civilization suddenly dropped onto the American earth from the Egyptian heaven."

LIE TWO: None of the early Egyptians and Nubians looked like Negroes. "They have long, narrow noses..." "Short, flat noses are confined to the West African ancestors of African-Americans." Again, "there is no evidence that ancient Nubians ever braided their hair. This style comes from colonial and modern Ethiopia."

THE TRUTH: Narrow noses have been found among millions of pure-blooded Africans. We can see this among the Elongated and Nilotic types. My critics know nothing about the variants of Africa, ancient or modern. All the six main variants of the African have been found in the Egyptian and Nubian graves. For examples of ancient braided Nubian hair, see Frank Snowden's "Before Color Prejudice," As for Egypto-Nubians only having narrow noses, see Egyptian pharaohs in Vol 10 and 12 of the JAC and major Nubian pharaohs in Peggy Bertram's essay (JAC, Vol.12) -Ushanaru, Plate 8, p 173; Taharka as the god Amun from Kawa Temples, Plate 9, p. 173; Shabaka, Plate 12, p. 176. Tanwetamani, Plate 16, p. 180. To say that these are narrow noses is to exhibit a colossal ignorance of African types in ancient Egypt and Nubia. The agenda behind this is to bolster their case that they could not have been models for any of the Olmec stone heads.

LIE THREE; Modern Egyptians look exactly as they did thousands of years ago. The composition of the Egyptian has not changed over the last 5000 years. Invasions by the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Arabs and Romans left them looking the same today as in the dawn of history.

THE TRUTH: This is a hasty misreading of the work of scholars like A.C. Berry, R. J. Berry and Ucko who point out that there is a remarkable degree of homogeneity in this area for 5000 years. What a superficial reading of this fails to note is that the period ends with the close of the native dynasties BEFORE the invasions of the Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman and Arab foreigners

LIE FOUR: Faced with the startlingly Negroid features of some of the Olmec stone heads, my critics try 4 ways out: (a) They are "spitting images of the native;" (b) they appear dark because some of them were carved out of dark volcanic stone; (c) some were made of white basalt which turned dark over time; (d) ancient Egyptians and Nubians were remote in physiognomy from sub-Saharan Negroes and none of them could have been models for any of the "Negro-looking" heads. Having said all that, they then claim that "races are not linked to specific physiognomic traits."

THE TRUTH: No need to shoot them down on this. They turned the gun on themselves.

LIE FIVE: Nothing African has been found in any archeological excavation in the New World.

THE TRUTH: In the drier centers of the Olmec world - at Tlatilco, Cerro de las Mesas and Monte Alban - the Polish craniologist, Andrez Wiercinski, found indisputable evidence of an African presence. The many traits analyzed in these Olmec sites indicated individuals with Negroid traits predominating but with an admixture of other racial traits. This is what I have said. The work of A. Vargas Guadarrama is an important reinforcement of Wiercinski's study. He found that the skulls he examined at Tlatilco, which Wiercinski had classified as Negroid, were "radically different" from other skulls on the site, bearing indisputable similarities to skulls in West Africa and Egypt.

LIE SIX: Van Sertima presents no evidence that a New World cotton (gossypium hirsutum var. punctatum) was transferred from Guinea to the Cape Verde in 1462 by the Portuguese and there is no hard proof that West Africans made a round trip to America before Columbus.

THE TRUTH: I cited evidence in 12 categories to establish Mandingo voyages to the New World circa1310/1311 A.D. This included eyewitness reports from nearly a dozen Europeans, even Columbus himself, metallurgical, linguistic, botanical, navigational, oceanographic, skeletal, epigraphic, cartographic, oral, documented and iconographic evidence. With regard to New World cotton in Africa before 1462, Stephens spoke in two tongues to pacify isolationist colleagues.

LIE SEVEN: My critics claim that I said the bottle gourd came in with Old World voyagers.

THE TRUTH: I was at pains to point out that this is ONE PLANT THAT COULD DRIFT TO AMERICA WITHOUT THE LOSS OF SEED VIABILITY. "Bottle gourds got caught in the pull of currents from the African coast and drifted to America across the Atlantic. Thomas Whitaker and G.F. Carter showed that these gourds are capable of floating in seawater for 7 months without loss of seed viability" - "They Came Before Columbus," 204. They indulge in an even more vicious dishonesty with regard to cotton, claiming that I said "Old World cottons came into America with a fleet of Nubians circa 700 B.C." I never linked cotton transfer to Nubian contact.

LIE EIGHT: My critics admit "we cannot unequivocally date the heads" but they single out one which they say Ann Cyphers confidently dated about 1011 B.C. Note the date! This is 200 years AFTER the Egyptian contact period c. 1200 B.C. Yet they claim that the dating of this one head proves "Negro-looking heads" were being carved, mutilated, and buried prior to 1200 B.C.

THE TRUTH: The stone heads could not have been buried before they were carved.

LIE NINE: Egyptians stopped building pyramids "thousands of years" before 1200 B.C. No relationship whatever exists between Old World/New World pyramids.

THE TRUTH: Enormous obelisks, calling for the same complex engineering skills of the pyramid age were built at Karnak as late as 1295 B.C. A pyramid was also built as Dashur circa 1700 B.C. Bart Jordan, the mathematical child prodigy, to whom Einstein granted special audience, established startling coincidences between Old World and New World pyramids. He agrees with me that "The overwhelming incidence of coincidence argues overwhelmingly against a mere coincidence."

LIE TEN: My critics claim that I have trampled upon the self-respect and self-esteem of native Americans and they have come forward to champion their cause.

THE TRUTH: My people (for I am part Macusi and part African) would be horrified to have, as champions of our cause, De Montellano, Barbour, and Haslip-Viera, who disgrace us with the charge that "native Americans would have sacrificed and eaten the Africans if they came."
Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on June 6, 2009 at 12:45am
I apologize for my misspelling of Dr. Van Sertima's name in the prior post.
Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on June 6, 2009 at 12:38am
Tau Carmen
I am certainly sensitive to the loss felt by the realatives, friends and admirers of Dr. Ivan Van Certima. I respect the fact that a man of considerable prominence passed away last month, however within the parameters of the present discussion it is important to point out the glaring flaws in his argument and to correct the multiple mis-representations in his affirmations that pretend to present scientific fact when in reality they are simply not true.

I will make a presentation here which very clearly posits just one example of how Dr. Van Certima twisted evidence to fit his theory.

I listened to one of his lectures on an online digital video. He makes an attempt to present the very real fact that many non-European books have been destroyed and that the literature that we non-Europeans must rely on to re-construct our own ancient history must be gleaned from a very few books which have survived. That is all totally true. But as you will see from his own words quoted below, he manipulates these facts and presents them in a falsified manner to support his theory.
This is the quote from his speech:

"The reason why history has to be reconstructed in America and in Africa in the way that it is done now is because we can not use the same historicalmethods that are used in Europe. Europe has had the enormous advantage of the conquest, in that its libraries have remained fairly intact for many centuries. Our libraries have been shattered, and it's not the question of the lack of libraries. In the Americas alone there were thousands of books. Only three major American books survived, and they are not even in America. They are in Germany (referring to the Dresden Codex), They are in Spain (refering to the Madrid Codex). Three books survived. One of them is the Popol Vuh, the bible of the Quiche Maya. You have the Titulo Coyoi, which Jairazbhoy mentions..."

Dr Van Certima is totally correct in saying that there were thousands of books in the Americas before Columbus. The majority of those books were written by the Mayas, who were a totally literate people with a fully-developed system of writing. He is also totally correct in affirming that almost all of those boks were destroyed. They were destroyed on purpose by the Spanish in an attempt to eliminate the ancient wisdom of the Indigenous people of this continent. He also states that there are only three books that survived this holocaust. He is only partially correct on this point. There are only three Maya books that survived the burning but there are also a number of other pre-colombian books written by some Mexican Indigenous people which also survived, so technically speaking there are more than three. The Maya books are much more significant because unlike the others they are rendered in a completely literate hieroglyphic system as opposed to the simple picture writing used by the rest.

The three ancient pre-colombian Maya books that have survived are the Madrid Codex, the Dresden Codex and the Paris Codex. These three books are named after the European cities in which they are now kept. Dr. Van Certima mentions this fact accurately also.
Then suddenly he takes a totally unpredictable flight of fancy. He mentions that one of the three ancient pre-colombian books that survived the destruction was the Popol Vuh and then he mentions another piece of Maya literature called the "Titulo Coyoi", creating the illusion that it also is one of the three surviving books. That is simply NOT TRUE!!
The Popol Vuh was written in 1550 by K'iche' Maya elders in the K'iche' Maya language but penned in the A-B-C alphabet used by you and me. It was written AFTER the conquest and in secret by men who made it clear as they were writing it that they had to do their work in secret because of the religious oppression of their Christian conquerors. The Popol Vuh is not one of the three books that survived the oppressive destruction. It was written AFTER that burning took place.

There is a lot of evidence that some parts of the Popol Vuh may have been copied by these men from an original that they had in front of them, written in the ancient pre-colombian hieroglyphic writing (Dennis Tedlock 1989), but unfortunately, if that book actually existed then, it no longer exists now. There is no original of the Popol Vuh written in pre-colombian hieroglyphic writing in existance today.
Even when the priest Francisco Ximenes discovered the Popol Vuh in the early 1700's in his church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, and began to translate it from K'iche' into Spanish, the information he found written there included first-person accounts of events that had taken place AFTER the conquest.
It is true that there is a portion of the Popol Vuh that contains the ancient sacred account of Maya Creation, an account that goes far back before the arrival of Columbus in America, but the book in itself is actually not that old at all. The ironic fact about this is that even the copy written in the 1500's that Ximenez found no longer exists. All we have today is his carefully coped version, written in the early 1700's in both K'iche' and Spanish.

Why would a prominent and well-read individual such as Dr. Van Certima make such an error. the history of the Popol vuh is very well known and understood even by people who are not scholars. why would he say that the Popol Vuh is one of the three ancient pre-colombian books that survived the burning. He also mentions the Titulo Coyoi, another POST-CONQUEST Maya book that does not qualify as one of the three pre-colombian books Dr. Van Certima mentions earlier in his speech.
Maybe he just made a mistake. Maybe he mixed up his Maya books. But I don't think so. I think that the problem lies in the fact that none of the real three precolombian books that Dr. Van Certima mentioned actually contain any evidence of pre-colombian African contact in the Americas. However he seems to have found a number of passages in the POST-CONQUEST Titulo Coyoi that appear to confirm his theory. That is why he misrepresents that book as one of the three surviving books of pre-colombian literature.

This is not very good scholarship and smacks of deceit. This is not the only problem with Dr. Van Certima's work. I would like to include here just a little bit of the information published by legitimate scholars of Mesoamerican pre-colombian history which attempts to correct his misrepresentations;

1. This is what HASLIP-VIERA G. , ORTIZ DE MONTELLANO B. and BARBOUR W. have to say about Dr. Van Certima:

"In 1976, Ivan Van Sertima proposed that New World civilizations were strongly influenced by diffusion from Africa. The first and most important contact, he argued, was between Nubians and Olmecs in 700 B.C., and it was followed by other contacts from Mali in A.D. 1300. This theory has spread widely in the African-American community, both lay and scholarly, but it has never been evaluated at length by Mesoamericanists. This article shows the proposal to be devoid of any foundation. First, no genuine African artifact has ever been found in a controlled archaeological excavation in the New World. The presence of African-origin plants such as the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) or of African genes in New World cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) shows that there was contact between the Old World and the New, but this contact occurred too long ago to have involved any human agency and is irrelevant to Egyptian-Olmec contact. The colossal Olmec heads, which resemble a stereotypical Negroid, were carved hundreds of years before the arrival of the presumed models. Additionally, Nubians, who come from a desert environment and have long, high noses, do not resemble their supposed portraits. Claims for the diffusion of pyramid building and mummification are also fallacious."

2. This is what Rene Llewellyn publishes in his website

"It is quite clear from the foregoing that claims of an African presence in pre-Columbian America are purely speculative, rigidly diffusionist, and have no foundation in the artifactual, physical, and historical evidence."

~ Bernard Ortiz de Montellano, quoted in They were NOT Here before Columbus: Afrocentric Hyperdiffusionism in the 1990s (Haslip-Viera et al., 1997a)

Archaeology is the study of the physical remains from the past. The most basic principle in archaeology, therefore, is that the discipline requires physical evidence to function.
A caveat to that basic requirement of evidence is that "no amount of excuse-making for the complete absence of supporting evidence for a theory compensates for that absence. Supposition, assertion, innuendo, and speculation do not constitute archaeological evidence" (Fagan 2002). Further investigation into African explorations of America reveals a great deal of assertion and a notable lack of archaeological facts.
Cultural Evidence
Problems abound regarding evidence of the "Negroid" features of the Olmec colossal heads. The phenotypical features of Nubians and Egyptians from North and East Africa -- the people claimed by Van Sertima and others to be the models for the Olmec heads -- were very different from the features depicted in the sculptures (Haslip-Viera et al. 1997). Desert-dwelling people have high arched noses to moisten the dry air as they breathe. Flat noses are common among people dwelling in humid, tropical regions, such as the Olmec areas. The heads also show a distinct lack of prognathism, a common trait in African populations. Olmec sculptures also feature non-African epicanthic folds around the eyes (Feder 2002).

Fig.6. Woman from Olmec area with epicanthic eyelid folds. Fig. 7. Monument 5, San Lorenzo, side views, showing flat faces (Haslip-Viera et al., 1997). Fig. 8. Tzotzil woman from Chiapas with broad nose.
Dating of the heads presents an even more concrete argument against African influence. Archaeologists excavating La Venta and San Lorenzo have estimated that the Olmec heads were sculpted in the Early Formative Period, prior to 1011 BCE (Coe and Diehl 1980). Likewise, van Sertima's "Phoenician sailor" could not have been a shipmate of the Nubians. Sculpted stela were produced during the Middle Formative Period, several hundred years later than the colossal heads (Lowe 1989). The "Egyptian" helmets sported by Olmec sculptures are more likely a form of protective head gear worn by Olmec ball players.
The Olmec mounds and platform structures are relatively large compared with the Nubian pyramids of the same period. At La Venta there were also courtyards, plazas, and other geometric mounds, none of which resemble the Nubian pyramids in structure, orientation, or usage (Haslip-Viera et al. 1997).
Historical Evidence
Written documentation of stories and myths does not qualify as evidence of fact. If some 2,000 African ships full of trade goods, supplies and their attendant sailors arrived in Mesoamerica in 1311, there should be a vast quantity of artifacts visible in the archaeological record. Authentic artifacts found in controlled archaeological excavations would provide absolute proof of contact; however, no such artifact of African origin has ever been found in the New World (Haslip-Viera et al. 1997).
Biological Evidence
The Tlatilco site was initially discovered by a brick company's industrial excavation rather than through archaeological investigation, so many of the crania examined by Wiercinski in 1972 were missing key features used for measurement. This lowered the confidence interval of racial classification significantly (van Rossum 1996).
Some of the Tlatilco skeletons currently reside in the Anthropological Museum in Mérida, Mexico. There is no record of any craniometric or other forensic studies regarding ancestry having been performed on them since the early 1970's. If Afrocentric scholars are serious about building a strong body of evidence, why have no further tests been conducted?

As physical anthropologists such as Jurmain et al. (1998) have repeatedly stated, race is not a biological concept and phenotypes are not reliably indicative of populational descent. However, the arrival of African visitors would certainly have left a distinct and sudden biological mark on indigenous populations through transmission of foreign infectious diseases, similar to the devastation caused by Columbus' arrival in later centuries. No such impact has been detected in the bioarchaeological record of Mesoamerica.
In light of this evidence, what is our conclusion?

There is no testable, verifiable, physical evidence to support the hypothesis that Africans ever visited Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. This is not to say that ancient African civilizations were not capable of making the journey -- the evidence is simply not present in the archaeological record to date (Feder 2002). Therefore, archaeologists agree that there was no contact between ancient or medieval Africans and Mesoamericans prior to Columbus' journey.
In spite of this, proponents of the African discovery hypothesis continue to utilize pseudoscientific tactics to promote their unsubstantiated claims, such as:
Exclusive use of outdated material. The majority of articles and studies cited by van Sertima and other Afrocentric authors is significantly outdated from a scientific point of view (pre-1950).
Lack of original data. Very few primary sources of research - such as archaeological site reports or articles published by professional archaeologists in peer-reviewed journals - are cited by Afrocentric authors. Secondary summaries and subjective interpretations are utilized instead.
Selective exclusion of data. Concrete evidence that contradicts Afrocentric claims, such as the well-established chronological sequence of the Olmec head and stela sculptures, is simply disregarded.
Emphasis on the possible, not the factual. Proving that a civilization had the skills and tools to accomplish a journey is not the same as proving they actually accomplished it.
Ideological accusations. Researchers who point out the weaknesses of Afrocentric exploration are generally accused of being racists and/or part of a larger Eurocentric conspiracy to downplay African accomplishments.

"...without concrete evidence for support, [Afrocentric scholars] have given credit to far-away foreign cultures. This is both academically irresponsible and unfair to the cultures that truly produced them" (Follensbee 1996).
Both Africa and Mesoamerica are birthplaces of unique human civilizations and cultural achievements. As Feder (2002) states, there is no need to exaggerate the intellectual contributions of any civilization on any continent, or to state that one must have inspired another. Archaeologists are able to study and honor the true accomplishments of all peoples through the application of sound scientific principles. That is an achievement worthy of remembrance.
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_____. 1994. The New Archaeology and the Ancient Maya. New York: Scientific American Library.

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Shermer, Michael. 1997. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. New York: W. H. Freeman & Company.

Steibing, William. 1984. Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions and Other Popular Theories About Man's Past. Buffalo: Prometheus Press.

Sullivan, Andrew. 1990. Racism 101: A Crash Course in Afro-Centrism. New Republic (November):18-21.

van Rossum, Peter. 1996. Olmec skeletons African? No, just poor scholarship [online posting], in sci.archaeology.mesoamerican Usenet archive, accessed February 12, 2004; available from

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Pseudo-Archaeological & Pseudo-Historical References
Barton, Paul Alfred. 2001. A History of the African-Olmecs: Black Civilizations of America from Prehistoric Times to the Present Era. Online publisher: 1st Book Library.

Bradley, Michael Anderson. 1982. The Black Discovery of America: Amazing Evidence of Daring Voyages by Ancient West African Mariners. New York: Everest House.

_____. 1992. Dawn Voyage: The Black African Discovery of America. New York: A&B Book Publishing.

Hancock, Graham. 1995. Fingerprints of the Gods. New York: Crown.

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Loewen, James A. 1995. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Touchstone Books.

Poe, Richard. 1999. Black Spark, White Fire:Did African Explorers Civilize Ancient Europe? New York: Prima Publishing.

Schoch, R. M. and R.A. McNally. 2003. Voyages of the Pyramid Builders: The True Origins of the Pyramids From Lost Egypt to Ancient America. New York: Jeremy P. Archer/Putnam.

Shavit, Yaacov. 2001. History in Black: African-Americans in Search of an Ancient Past. London: Frank Cass Publishers.

Thompson, A. 1975. Pre-Columbian Black Presence in the Western Hemisphere. Negro History Bulletin 452-456

van Sertima, Ivan. 1976. They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America. New York: Random House

_____. (ed.). 1992. African Presence in Early America. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

_____. 1995. African presence in early America, in Race, Discourse, and the Origin of the Americas. A New World View. Edited by V. L. Hyatt and R. Nettleford, pp. 66-101. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press

_____. 1998. Early America Revisited. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Vogel, Chris. 1991. History stolen from Africans, professor says. USF Oracle March 6:8-9.

von Wuthenau, A. 1975. Unexpected Faces in Ancient America: The Historical Testimony of Pre-Columbian Artists 1500 BC-AD 1500. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.

Wiener, Leo. 1922. Africa and the Discovery of America. Chicago: Innes & Sons.

Wiercinski, Andrzej. 1972. Inter-and-Intrapopulational racial differentiation of Tlatilco, Cerro de Las Mesas, Teothuacan, Monte Alban and Yucatan Maya. XXX1X Congreso International de Americanistas, Lima 1970 1:231-252.

Winters, Clyde Ahmad. 1977. The influence of the Mnade scripts on American ancient writing systems. Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental Afrique Noire 2:405-431.

_____. 1982. Mexico's Black heritage. The Black Collegian 76-82.

_____. 1984a. Blacks in ancient America. Colorlines 3(2):27-28.

_____. 1984b. Africans found first American Civilization. African Monitor 1:16-18.

There is a lot more material de-bunking Dr. Van Certima's affirmation but I am going to conclude here.
Taino Ti
Comment by carmen mendez on June 5, 2009 at 8:43pm
In respect and memory of a great Elder, I humbly acknowledge the man Ivan Van Sertima for all he has contributed to raising the consciousness of the people. This great man has just passed at the age of 74 and it is a sadness and loss for all of us. My gratitude to the knowledge and wisdom brought to us by this man. Let us not denigrate him only days after his passing.

I would like to know who is it that debunked the information on Olmec heads? What scholars are they or leaders are they and do they have published works or other works available concerning this?

Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on June 5, 2009 at 8:54am
Nanu You are absolutely correct in your assesment. The current Afrocentric hysteria over the Olmec heads and their thick lips and flat noses is nothing more than just an extension of the original "They were too primitive to do it" philosophy espoused by Erich von Däniken in his book "Chariots of the Gods?
Anybody can use superficial appearances and pseudo-scienticic babble to promote just about any theory that they choose to promote in the course of disparraging the abilities and genius of our Indigenous ancestors.
The old "thick lipped-flat-nosed" Olmec head argument has been debunked a hundred times over by legitimate scholars of Mesoamerican civilization and by Native Mexicans within whose territory the ancient heads rest. These Indigenous Mexican people, in particular, have the right to have their opinion on their own ancestors respected and not disputed and challenged by "I know-better-than-you" types with revisionist ethnic supremacist agendas of their own.
As a person of mixed heritage I respect and honor my ancestors from all the branches of my ancestry. My respect and devotion to my African heritage is strong and it manifests itself publicly as well as privately in my lifestyle and in my spiritual practice. I honor my African ancestors through legitimizing the horror of the slave trade which brought them to the American shores after Columbus, and allowed their blood to mingle withthe blood of my Taino ancestors. I do not indulge in lame theories of pre-colombian African migrations in an attempt to somehow enhance the value of these ancestors up from "mere slaves". I feel that this indulgence in historical fantasy simply dishonors the memory of those thousands who lived and died through that terrible era, minimizing their contribution to our present.
Taino Ti


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