A map of North American that was created in
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Ancient Castaway Seamen
Unfortunate seamen have been dismasted from the very beginning of maritime travel thousands of years ago On the coast of the Pacific Northwest tradition confirms that such unfortunates did make it through to landfall occasionally and often enough to retain folk memories.
This suggests that the same also happened in the Atlantic long before
actual achievement was to figure out how he might return. Columbus
These seamen were all fishermen and knew how to live off the ocean and could be expected to survive so long as their vessel stayed afloat.
That artifacts such as coins would survive is fairly certain and can only be explained properly by castaways. The coins would have returned if it were an exploratory expedition.
Genetic input by castaways has generally been dismissed as a plausible source of intermixing, but the known reports from isolated villages suggest several such events per century going on for millennia. That adds up to a lot of potential genetic mixing and information trasnsfer.
Old coins contradict history
Bamfield man has been finding curious artifacts in the surrounding mountains
Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
In the mountains surrounding Bamfield, history is still waiting to be discovered.
For 25 years, Bamfield resident Paul Demontigny has been discovering pieces of history in the area, including Chinese and Japanese coins that date back thousands of years.
The oldest he's found is a Chinese coin dated 1408.
Paul Demontigny discovered these historial coins in the mountains near Bamfield. The oldest he has found dates back to 1408.
"As far as evidence of history in this area, it's amazing," he said.
The discovering he has done has been controversial, because anything dating further back than 1846 is considered a heritage item, and not to be removed.
An archaeologist is needed to dig up the items, but Demontigny has had trouble getting someone out to the site.
"An individual can hire an architect, but it's against the law to do an archaeology dig yourself," Demontigny explained.
Demontigny's discovering began in 1985 when he staked a mineral claim in the area behind
In the area,
lights up a
golden colour when summer solstice hits. Solstice
"It's something you really need to see," he said.
Inside this mountain are several burial caves, where he has found bones and petroglyphs.
Along his exploring of the area, Demontigny has found Chinese and Japanese coins, old body armour, weaving that covered the armour, a bronze spike that is likely Chinese and more.
The controversy behind these objects springs from people's belief of their history, Demontigny explained. He has toured RCMP and Huu-ay-aht First Nations through the area to show them what he has found, he said.
"It's been a bit of a rocky road," he said. "It goes totally against people's history."
Some items he has found indicate that there may have been Vikings and pirates in the area as well, he explained.
"The Spanish were cruising the South Pacific in search of treasure," Demontigny explained, add-ing that the pirates would travel up the Pacific and turn around before returning with treasures. "They would sail right below here. It's the perfect spot for pirates."
To read more about the work Demontigny has done, go to seabirdclaim.tripod.com or forest. facts.tripod.com.
"That's just the start of it," Demontigny said.
Thee are still many items to be found. Demontigny brings people around the area by boat to look at the mountains.
Who were B.C.’s first seafarers?
By Daniel Wood, July 10, 2008
Even pale ink is better than memory—Chinese proverb
Chinese myths and tenuous archaeological evidence offer hints that explorers came here from the
Far East long
As the tide creeps over the sand flats of
Bay south of Bamfield, it brings
ashore flotsam of the Pacific Ocean that—on
occasion—hints at extraordinary travels and a mystery of historic proportions.
Amid the kelp, in decades past, hundreds of green glass fishnet floats arrived intact on Vancouver Island’s west coast, having ridden the powerful Japan Current in yearlong transits from
But on much rarer occasions, the current and tide have brought to North
America’s west coast the boats of unintentional Asian voyagers, most of them
dead—the victims of dismastings 10,000 kilometres away.
Even more rarely, these ghost ships carried survivors of this slow drift, men who spoke Chinese or Japanese. Such was the case with the Hy?jun Maru, which was left rudderless in a typhoon off Japan and drifted for 14 months before washing up in 1834 on Washington state’s Cape Flattery headlands, just across from Pachena Bay. It contained three fishermen.
It is, in fact, one of 100 known Asian drift boats that have crossed the Pacific accidentally. (The last one to arrive came ashore on the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1987, empty.) But no one knows what to make of the evidence hauled up from the wreck that lies 16 kilometres off
in almost 150 metres of water, or the two supposed wrecks that are purported to
have yielded strange artifacts from beneath nearby Clayoquot Sound. For all
three have produced barnacle-covered Asian pots—probably Chinese—whose age may
predate the earliest European visitors to this coast. Pachena Bay
No one knows how to explain the source of early iron implements in the Pacific Northwest—where iron was unknown to its inhabitants—or the origin of the 100 Asian plants and human parasites that suddenly appeared in Latin America a few millennia ago, or the recently revealed linguistic similarities between early Chinese and Mayan words.
How did the bones of chickens—an Asian fowl—get into a prehistoric American midden? What explains the similarities between Japanese and Zuni blood types? And no one can figure out how the 1,500-year-old Chinese legend of Fu Sang could have come about.
It recounts the journey of Chinese adventurer and Buddhist missionary Hui Shen, who claimed to have sailed across the Pacific, along the coast of what is today called British Columbia, then southward to a subtropical place he called Fu Sang. Many of the details in his chronicle of this 40-year journey are breathtakingly accurate.
Where does coincidence end and incident begin? Were people crossing the Pacific long before Europeans crossed the
In the past 100 years, a lot of Eurocentric views of history have collapsed, and a lot of stories once viewed as fantastical have proven true. Not long ago, no one guffawed when schoolteachers intoned that Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press and Christopher Columbus “discovered”
Believing these things was part of the conceit of European superiority. America
This view extended to old myths and legends that 20th-century academics dismissed as the imaginings of primitive minds. The
saga was a tale told by uncouth Vikings, and nothing more. Atlantis was
something Plato dreamed up. A lost Incan city somewhere in the Andes? How romantic.
But today there are
L’Anse aux Meadows and the Greek island
of Santorini and Peru’s to remind the dogmatic that the ink of history
is not indelible, that history is, in fact, a palimpsest of rewritings, as new
discoveries obscure old beliefs. Machu
No person has been more influential—or, in his conclusions, more wrong—in exploring the possibility of early trans-Pacific travel than the late Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. He’s the man behind the 1947 Kon-Tiki raft expedition, widely considered one of the greatest feats of human endurance in history.
Few know that Heyerdahl’s famous ocean-crossing raft journey had its origins in Bella Coola, B.C., in 1939, when the young anthropologist spent the winter there looking for evidence that might link Natives of the
ancient cross-Pacific human migrations. Americas
Curiously, the first clues to this supposition were reports he heard from Bella Coola fishermen of glass Japanese fishnet floats entangled in their nets, and the equally provocative anthropomorphic petroglyphs at nearby Thorsen Creek. To his mind, the big-eyed stone creatures depicted there were identical to ones he’d seen previously in
Hawaii and on
Easter Island, far out in the Pacific off . Chile
Could it be, he asked himself, that the endlessly circling ocean currents that were bringing Japanese fishing floats to B.C.’s central coast at Bella Coola had also carried early westbound Native Americans to
Polynesia? Perhaps the Pacific was not an impediment to
prehistoric mariners but an invisible river?
With his successful east-to-west, 8,000-kilometre journey on the Kon-Tiki, an important new vista opened for scientific investigation: people could have utilized primitive vessels to cross the Pacific. (Heyerdahl’s error—and it was a huge one—was to assume these ocean migrations originated in the
Americas, not in Asia.)
In the late summer of 1979, captain Mike Tyne, then 31, was fishing with his trawler the Beaufort Sea above Big Bank, a shallows off
at the western border of Juan de
Fuca Strait, when his dragnet hauled up an unusual catch. Amid the cod and sole
were pieces of rotten wood and a large, intact, brown-glazed pot, its exterior
encrusted with marine-worm casts and its interior holding an octopus. Pachena Bay
The three-man crew discussed the likelihood they’d snagged an unknown shipwreck 150 metres below. The wood was promptly discarded, but
Tyne told himself the urn would make a good planter for
his wife, Patsy, and brought his find back to Ucluelet. Word got around town
that Tyne had pulled up an old, Chinese-looking pot, and speculation began—and
continues to this day—that Tyne had found the
first evidence of an ancient Asian shipwreck on the North American coast. There
were stories in the local paper. An American visitor offered him $2,000 for the
pot. Archaeologists appeared.
During the next few years, as news of the 75-centimetre-high urn circulated, three institutions provided differing assessments of its age. According to Tyne, the British Museum in London said, based on photographs, that it was probably 300 years old; both the University of Toronto and UBC, using carbon dating, said it could be 700.
However, no one could confirm its significance. Even if it were a very old Chinese urn, there was no proof the wreck itself was the same age. With an estimated 2,000 sunken ships along the B.C. coast—most unsurveyed—the old pot could have been carried on an unknown 19th-century vessel that foundered off
. But uncertainty about the pot’s
origins did little to deter interest. Pachena Bay
As a boy in Grade 5, Tom Beasley, now 54 and a Vancouver lawyer, read Thor Heyerdahl’s famous book Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft and was fired by the anthropologist’s conviction that the Pacific was a crossroads of ancient travel. Beasley learned to dive, studied maritime histories and Pacific Northwest folklore, joined the Underwater Archaeological Society of B.C., and came to believe that the B.C. coast held myriad secrets.
In 1983 in Tofino, searching for the sunken 19th-century fur-trading vessel Tonquin, he watched as a man stepped onto his tugboat with a barnacle-covered Chinese pot. Robert Pfannenschmidt, a Tofino forestry employee and diver, claimed that it came from a second Asian wreck in nearby Clayoquot Sound. He refused, however, to reveal the location of his alleged discovery, saying he was keeping the shallow-water site secret in order to extract its artifacts at a later date.
(Beasley and others informed Pfannenschmidt at that time that pillaging a historic shipwreck in B.C. is illegal, and he has since rejected interview requests.) Not long after that, two more old Chinese pots appeared in fishnets off Tofino, prompting reports of a third Asian wreck.
To Beasley’s mind, these underwater pottery finds were further clues that Chinese voyagers reached
long ago. And he lists a few of the other curious linkages: B.C. Native myths
of non-European strangers arriving from the sea; conical hats common to Asians
and local Natives; the use of mortuary poles on both sides of the Pacific (and
nowhere else); and the profoundly odd story of Fu Sang.
“The story line is wonderful,” he says of the mounting evidence that ocean-crossing Asian travellers did, in fact, venture here. “All we’ve got so far is pieces of the puzzle. We have to follow the myths. Fu Sang’s like the old Norse sagas describing
L’Anse aux Meadows, we know the sagas were correct: the Vikings got to the New
World 500 years before .
But here”¦we haven’t found the Holy Grail: the shipwreck. But it will be
The idea that the Chinese may have reached the New World at least 500 years before the Vikings and 1,000 years before
is as tantalizing as it is
controversial. In Liang-shu (Records of the Liang Dynasty), set down almost
1,500 years ago, the story is told of an itinerant monk named Hui Shen who set
sail with his four Buddhist companions on a four-decade-long, trans-Pacific
odyssey with the intention of introducing their religion to the peoples they
encountered across the “Great Eastern Sea”. Columbus
Utilizing the Japan Current, the legend reports, the men travelled from
4,000 kilometres northeast, to a land where people had striped faces. The
direction, distance, and details fit remarkably with the tattooed Aleuts of
southern China .
Hui Shen then sailed 2,700 kilometres farther east and south to a land of “mile
high” trees where wooden houses were surrounded by decorations. He called the
place the Alaska of Rushing Waters. Great Land
Again, in distance, direction, and details, it sounds like
Continuing south, the men journeyed 10,600 kilometres to a country the monk
called Fu Sangafter local trees that produced a red, pear-shaped fruit.
The people, he reported, had a rich culture, with an aristocracy, a writing
system, complex rituals, and domestic animals that today suggest Mayan British Columbia . Again,
things fit almost perfectly. Hui Shen returned to Mexico in AD 499, only to find his
homeland racked by civil war. China
Some elements of the Fu Sang story are, however, so odd that critics dismiss the account as the product of imagination. Hui Shen reported he heard stories in Fu Sang of a nearby society composed exclusively of Amazonian women who took snakes as husbands and nursed their children from nipples on their shoulders.
He said he saw deer pulling wheeled carts, and dog-faced men. Time and transcription can, of course, turn gods into dogs. Such is the nature of myth. But no less an authority than British Sinologist Joseph Needham counted, on visits to Mayan Mexico, more than 100 parallels—in complicated rain-making ceremonies, in the construction of suspension bridges, and in a belief in the magical properties of jade—that indicated the two civilizations had ancient links.
Until quite recently, most North American archaeologists would get nervous at the suggestion that ancient Asian mariners crossed the Pacific in travels to the
Trapped in a scientific orthodoxy—not so different from the one dictating that
early-20th-century geologists reject the new (and now firmly established)
theory of drifting continents—archaeologists have claimed that the early
cultures of the Americas evolved untainted by any outside influence. Americas
This belief had its roots in a sort of í¼ber-nationalism of western scientific thought: unlike the mongrel cultures of Asia, Melanesia, and Africa, so the argument went, there was no foreign miscegenation in the
. This smug, isolationist
idea held sway for most of the 20th century. Americas
A map of North American that was created in
So Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki demonstration of an alternative theory—that the Pacific may have been a highway of ancient American-Asian diffusions—was greeted with derision by academia. Then cameGavin Menzies’s best-selling 2002 book 1421: The Year
Discovered the World, describing alleged Oriental visits to the New World almost 600 years ago. Historians and
archaeologists went ballistic.
Menzies is a liar, they said. Worse, he’s a charlatan. What often got lost in the tirades against Menzies and his mistaken predecessor Heyerdahl—they did get important things wrong—was this increasingly accepted premise: early Asian and, perhaps, American peoples had been crossing the Pacific for centuries, perhaps for millennia, before Europeans appeared on the scene.
This paradigm shift can be traced, in part, to a series of recent discoveries that demonstrate early mariners had both the capacity and an interest in trade that regularly propelled them out of Asia and to the
When, for example, Victoria coastal archaeologist Daryl Fedje announced a few years ago that he’d found datable 13,000-year-old human artifacts on the Queen Charlotte Islands, his discovery was part of a growing belief that prehistoric Asian nomads had the boats and skills to navigate the B.C. coast.
Virtually gone today is the scientific concept of the Bering Strait land bridge as the sole entry point for human migrations into Ice Age
North America. That theory is now an anachronism—as dead
as the one that once said God set the universe in motion on Wednesday, October
22, 4004 BC. Why cross several thousand kilometres of tundra and ice when
there’s plentiful fish, game, and dry land within reach of boats on ice-free,
Pacific coast promontories?
When archaeologists recently analyzed some buried ship’s planks on
California’s Channel Islands, they discovered that the
sawn wood likely had its origins in the Gilbert Islands,
7,500 kilometres to the southwest, in the western central Pacific. And the
wreck was 1,600 years old. When other researchers reported that New Mexico’s
Zuni Native blood types, religion, and language have unmistakable Japanese
links, or that old Mayan had common linguistic roots with old Sino-Tibetan—and
that these Asian influences appear to have arrived abruptly within the past
1,500 years—it was a sign the iconoclasts of Asian dispersal had overwhelmed
the bastion of American uniqueness.
David Burley, chair of SFU’s department of archaeology, finds himself, like most others in his field, having to assimilate this new, often discomfiting information. It runs counter to a lot of preconceptions.
“The evidence clearly shows now,” he admits, “people moved from west to east across the Pacific. If the Polynesians hit tiny Easter Island—and they did—they had to hit
South America. If they got
to Hawaii—and they did—they got to the Pacific Northwest. I have no doubt, in fact, Hawaiians
settled the .” Bella
There are Ainu ceremonial poles from northern
, he adds, that are almost
identical to West Coast poles. There’s old Polynesian bark cloth that’s
identical to Native cedar cloth here. And then there are those strange Bella
Coola petroglyphs. Japan
Even more provocative, however, than the petroglyphs that inspired Heyerdahl in 1939 is last year’s announcement by one of Burley’s own doctoral students, Alice Storey, that DNA in 600-year-old chicken bones found in Chile pinpoint the bird’s genetic origins in Samoa, almost 8,000 kilometres across open ocean to the west.
It had been assumed by Eurocentric archaeologists that Atlantic-crossing Spanish—not Pacific-crossing Polynesians—brought this Asian bird to the
New World. And to further the
trans-Pacific argument, it’s now also understood that these same maritime
traders brought the previously unknown sweet potato and the bottle gourd to
Polynesia from the . Americas
But when the issue of early Chinese travellers to
comes up, Burley admits he
has never heard of Fu Sang. This is difficult to grasp, given the role that
myths have often played in major archeological breakthroughs. After all—and to
mention just a few—Hiram Bingham followed the trail of Quechuan rumours to
Machu Picchu, and Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his archaeologist wife,
Anne Stine, followed the 1,000-year-old Norse sagas to L’Anse aux Meadows. British Columbia
Could this lack of curiosity among many North American archaeologists be testament to a lingering 20th-century bias that has downplayed
Asia’s influences on the West? Burley says of Fu Sang:
“Anything’s possible. Most myths have some kind of root basis in events.”
B.C. archaeologist George MacDonald, 70, director emeritus of the Bill Reid Foundation, is one of those who didn’t succumb to the scientific conceit of the
isolation from Asia. He has believed all along
that Asian traders and ideas have come to these shores since”¦ well, forever.
“It’s harder to explain why they did not come than why they did. The first emperor,” he says, referring to a different Chinese myth dating to 210 BC, “sent his fleet across the Pacific to find the ”˜land of immortality’. Those ships disappeared. Then came Fu Sang. There had to be Chinese ships that came here!”
MacDonald has dug evidence of Bronze Age (3000 BC) Japanese-style armour from a site near
He has seen ancient, folded birchbark boxes from Prince Rupert Siberia
that are mimicked by the traditional, curve-sided cedar boxes of B.C. coastal
Natives. He has seen how the raven myth has survived among tribes on both sides
of the Pacific.
He believes the circum-Pacific peoples have—despite the distances—known about each other for millennia, traded and fought regularly, and exchanged their ideas, their products, and their genes in a traffic that helped shape the rise of the great cultures of the Americas. He believes it’s time to follow the old myths.
“Most legends have some point of historical origin. But the old stories get warped in time. The challenge in archaeology is to take the warp out of it—to find the key sites and evidence and date them. I’d say maybe one-tenth of one percent of B.C. archaeological sites have been dug. Under the ocean”¦less. The day will come when we search the ocean off B.C. If you were looking for Chinese remains, you’d get results. Of course, it’s a needle-in-the-haystack situation. There’s a lot of coastline, a lot of water. But if you’re not looking,” and he points down, “you’re not going to find proof.”
The resolution to this mystery may well lie in one of several B.C. places today. The first is the cabinet-filled archaeological-collection room in
Victoria’s . It is presided over by its
garrulous, 60-year-old curator, Grant Keddie, who acknowledges that he has seen
a dramatic shift in his field toward seeking connections between Pacific
cultures rather than trying to dismember diffusion theorists and their
theories. Royal B.C. Museum
And the more Keddie looks, the more he believes the proverbial “needle” will soon be found. He pulls out a bunch of old perforated Chinese coins dug in B.C. and dated by him to around AD 1100. But, he says, there’s no proof these coins—like the old Chinese pots found off
Traditionally, Native people wore old coins as good-luck charms. Keddie points out that the 550-year-old “Ice Man” found frozen in a B.C. glacier in 1999 was carrying iron tools at a time when iron smelting was well known in East Asia but unknown in the
So where did the iron come from? He repeats B.C. Native myths of people
arriving long, long before the appearance of the first Europeans. Americas
These strangers purportedly ate “maggots”. Could that have been rice? He extracts from a drawer a six-centimetre-high figurine—with a topknot, and of apparent Asian origin—found amid potsherds and slate beads in a Native midden on
. Could it be proof Asians got
here, or is it merely a trade artifact? He says he’d like to get a piece of the
wood that fisherman Mike Tyne tossed overboard the day his crew found the
Chinese pot off Saturna Island . Carbon dating could
determine the age of the shipwreck. “Discussion is afoot,” Keddie acknowledges.
“The paradigm is changing. Scientists are now looking for the evidence to
role in history.” China
A second place to look would be the old office of the former director of the
Delgado. As an archaeologist and host of the long-running TV series Sea Hunter,
he knows that myths and isolated artifacts cannot alone make the case for
Chinese mariners coming to the B.C. coast long ago. For that, you need a
shipwreck, he said in an interview before he left the museum to take a job in
the U.S. Vancouver Maritime Museum
“If you take the accounts of the Chinese at face value, they did get here. The Fu Sang story says so. But there’s been a tendency in the West to dismiss the influence of the East. We’ve pretty much discarded that view now. And that,” he said, pointing dramatically across his desk and downward toward the floor, “that fits our postmodern view. We’re rejecting Eurocentric world history and the idea of American uniqueness and beginning to accept historic Asian ties to the
His fingertip aimed at one of the two intact Chinese pots pulled from 1,200 metres of water off Tofino, the location of the latest purported Asian shipwreck. The half-metre-high pot was covered with swirling, white tunicate worm casts atop its beer-brown glaze. Delgado studied the almost calligraphic casts as if trying to read an illegible script. “If we discover an Asian shipwreck off this coast,” he added, “it would be one of the most significant discoveries in North American archaeology.”
A third place to look is the living room of Michelle Morelan’s suburban Steveston home. She’s the daughter of Mike Tyne. On the floor in the corner, covered in white worm casts, is the very Chinese pot her father hauled up off
years ago. Curiously,
balanced atop the upright pot’s mouth is a large green glass Japanese fishnet
float, identical to those that once inspired Heyerdahl. To hold this giant Chinese
pot, to run one’s fingers over the rough, raised worm casts, is to sense the
proximity of mystery. “If only the pot could talk,” Morelan says. Pachena
More than a century ago, B.C. ethnologists recorded a story from the Loht’a people of
Pachena Bay, describing a great flood that had swept away
their village long before and had submerged the summit of nearby 1,817-metre . Mt. Arrowsmith
For 100 years, this tale was considered nothing more than a myth. Then a decade ago, a Japanese seismologist, analyzing records of local tsunamis, uncovered reports of a great wave that had inundated the Japanese coast on January 27, 1700. But he could find no accounts—despite a Russian presence in
Alaska and a Spanish presence along most of the west
coast of the —of
a big earthquake. Americas
The only gap in reliable reporting at that time was the still-unconquered Pacific coast of
. Archaeologists began
digging along coastal B.C. and soon found that a 10-metre tsunami had swept
into Canada that day and had obliterated the
village there. The old Loht’a myth had its roots, it is now known, in Pachena Bay ’s last
great earthquake. British Columbia
It is widely believed today—after a century of denial—that evidence of ancient Asian travellers along this coast is out there somewhere, and that the remarkable Chinese myth of Fu Sang and the gathering weight of local artifacts and Native stories are pointing the way to a new understanding of the past. It shouldn’t come as a surprise—considering the likely direction of 21st-century history—that the metaphorical tsunami headed across the Pacific from an ascendant
China in the
decades ahead may duplicate, in many ways, the cultural tsunami that swept the
Pacific coast of the
millennia ago. Myths are history’s pale ink. One Chinese shipwreck found, and
history changes. Americas