Monday, October 12, 2009

Ancient Chinese Contact

This paper can be reviewed in full through the link. Of particular interest, the scholars prepared their paper on the petroglyphs without been aware of the efforts of Gavin Menzies to assemble similar data throughout the world.

What is indicated is a series of occasional contacts between Chinese scholars and by inference a lot more in the form of support in the effort to physically get there. That it was physically possible is long established by the historic establishment of the circular route used by the Manila Galleons. That it was at best occasional is borne out by the lack of a driving trade basis for the route. The Chinese would know of the route and would also know of the associated value.

That groups of adventurous emigrants might embark is also probable on the basis of such knowledge. We know that the only locales able to absorb some emigration would be the Sacramento River Valley on the whole of the west coast until you are already in Central America. The limiting factor was the convenience of establishing agriculture.

We are left with traces of evidence of this occasional contact. The physical evidence will always be controversial by its nature and the ease with which it might be disputed. After all it requires absolutely no scholarship to dismiss an artifact as a fraud. The history of scholarship is replete with just that type of effort.

Much more important are ancient texts that relay the results of exploratory efforts. That they are even available is because they were deemed important. I am sure we have few reports on the thousands of voyages to Japan and the Philippines. That they brought information of distant lands is important, and that this did not lead to continuing contact is equally important.

We easily forget that it was the dyewood industry and then the sugar industry that underpinned the development of the Americas. Plunder was nice but rare. Mining took time to control and fully establish. For all this, a full century passed before Europeans seriously tried to establish a presence in North America. Comparable Chinese efforts are no less desultory.

The Chinese certainly had the marine technology early on, but also had ample opportunity southward and this drew all emigration and trade investment, in the same way that the Caribbean drew Europeans.

Thus the long trip to Yucatan was known and rarely embarked upon if ever. There was no incentive. This reminds us of how tenuous the initial contact with the Americas was. Had it initiated a plague that decimated Europe and Asia, exploration would have been halted. Had the Indian populations not collapsed so readily the establishment of colonies would have been slow and difficult, not unlike the history of Africa. Such colonies would have remained vulnerable to this day.

Boats, Floods, and Chinese Influence In Great Basin Rock Art

By John H. Ruskamp, B.A., and John A. Ruskamp, Jr., Ed.D.

© 2009

Dedicated to the members of the Little Lake Ranch in appreciation of their hospitality and careful preservation of the archaeological integrity of the site discussed in this paper.


In this study the elements of an ancient petroglyph, found in the Northwestern Mojave Desert, are compared with two similar Native American glyphs located hundreds of miles apart in Utah. All three of these glyphs are collectively compared with the modern form of the Chinese ideograph for a boat, Zhou. In addition, two other glyphs that resemble an older form of the Zhou ideograph are considered. This report establishes the proper interpretation of all five of these petroglyphs as depictions of a boat. Three of these boat glyphs are clearly associated with a large amount of water or an expansive flood. The legal concept of “substantial similarity” is utilized as a comparative tool for image analysis.


Numerous scholarly attempts have been made to interpret the various ancient rock art images that are found throughout the world. A review of the literature on this topic reveals that many of these spectacular but poorly understood images are generally ascribed to pre-historic “shamans,” working under the influence of their dreams and revelations, possibly while in an altered state of consciousness.1 However, considering the high level of artistic skill required to make these illustrations and the precarious location of many of them, high on canyon walls or in other generally inaccessible places, it is apparent that whoever created many of them was very purposeful and in a sober state of mind. To date, only a limited number of generally speculative interpretations have been compiled for the more common symbols found in petroglyph and pictograph drawings.2 Consequently, most of the artistic representations depicted in ancient North American rock are not clearly understood

Several ancient Chinese literary documents indicate that in pre-Columbian times contact was established with the indigenous people of the Americas. One such encounter is recorded in the Shan Hai King, which was written about 2250 BCE. This document tells about a long journey from China across “the Great Eastern Sea” to a distant land. Yet another ancient Chinese document from around 499 CE, Kuen 327, tells about the journey of a monk, Hui Shen, to a far off land, similar to the Yucatan, he called Fusang. Additional evidence that supports the likelihood that these accounts are accurate is provided by various other historical records and specifically by research that documents the shared habits and linguistics of the Chumash people of the California Coast with native Hawaiians beginning about 1400 years ago.4 One report describes the similar use of over 66 herbal medicines by the Chinese and the Chumash populations, confirming that there was an early Asian exchange with Native Americans.5

Additionally, in his blockbuster book “1421: The Year China Discovered America,” Gavin Menzies documents a wide range of Chinese influences which he believes impacted many pre- Columbian American populations. If only a fraction of these events actually took place as Menzies believes, the Chinese would have significantly influenced the Native American populations many years prior to the onset of European exploration. Finally, recent DNA research has confirmed that American Indians share a common genetic ancestry with specific Asian populations.6 Consequently, the identification of Asian rooted symbolism in the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs of California and the Great Basin region should not be unexpected.

To further the understanding of rock art images, this paper uses the legal concept of “substantial similarity” as an interpretive tool. Substantial similarity, a term used in copyright and patent law, may be defined as it was in the case of Ideal Toy Corp. v. Fab-Lu Limited, 360 F.2d 1021, 1022 (2d Cir. 1966) “whether the average lay observer would recognize the alleged copy as having been appropriated from the copyrighted work.” Or as it was in the case of Boisson v. Banian, Ltd. 273 F.3d 262, (2nd Cir. 2001) as “if the ordinary observer, unless he set out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them, and regard their appeal as the same.” On a more quantitative level, proof of substantial similarity was upheld in the case of Designers Guild Limited v. Russell Williams Limited, Designers Guild Ltd. [2001] 1 WLR 2416, when the judge supported a claim for violation of copyright after identifying seven substantial similarities between two works of art.

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