AIA Archaeology Lecture: "Across the Ocean Blue - Evidence for Precolumbian Voyages and Contacts."
February 11, 2022
The idea that Columbus discovered an unknown New World in 1492 was popularized in the nineteenth century as part of U. S. “Manifest Destiny” propaganda for taking over the American continent. Indians were labeled “Savages” isolated from the rest of the world and incapable of great works. Similarities between Old World and American crafts are still conventionally said to be independent inventions, and long ocean voyages impossible. The Guinness Book of World Records shows that even a paddleboard has been sailed between American and Europe, twice. This lecture shows varieties of boats capable of crossing oceans; obvious evidence that people crossed ocean straits more than 100,000 years ago in the South Pacific; archaeological evidence of movements around the Pacific in the Terminal Glacial Period; and archaeological evidence of transpacific contacts between Southeast Asia and Mesoamerica during the medieval spice trade about 1200 C.E. Woodland ceramics in eastern North America are best explained by introduction across the North Atlantic from coastal Scandinavia, as hypothesized by Stuart Piggott (the archaeologist in the Sutton Hoo film “The Dig”). DNA analyses now confirm interpretations formerly dismissed as “impossible”.
Alice Kehoe is professor emeritus, conducted field excavations in the Northwestern Plains/Canadian Prairie, in addition to extensive experience with First Nations in that area. She has also participated in archaeology at Tiwanaku, Solutre, Dolni Vestonice, and other sites. Broad and varied fieldwork and professional experiences stimulated her to research history of archaeology and also sociology of science regarding archaeology, background for a dozen books on American archaeology issues and First Nations ethnohistories.