Re: trans-Pacific contacts

Yuri Kuchinsky (
26 Aug 1996 17:03:28 GMT

Jeffrey L Baker ( wrote:
: On 11 Aug 1996, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

: You are the one attacking the status quo. It is up to you to defend your
: arguments with additional references. I have already made it clear that I
: do not find the arguments of Needham (who I have read) or Campbell all that
: compelling.

Well, you obviously haven't read TRANS-PACIFIC ECHOES by Needham,
Jeffrey. And this would have prevented you from making a large number of
_very basic_ mistakes in this discussion!


: > This earth shaking revelation may be helpful for grade schoolers. I think
: > you would do well to respect the intelligence of this audience. Myself, I
: > have studied the Chinese, and have been studying the matter of the Mayan
: > writings for a while, thank you.

: I should point out at this point in time that I am a Maya archaeologists.
: Though not fluent in Maya, I do have a rudimentary understanding of
: the Maya writing system. Chinese and Japanese are totally unintellegible
: to me. ...

If you looked at the relevant literature, you would have seen all the
_very many_ parallels between the Chinese and the Mayan ideograms.

: If Chinese and Maya are so close, why can't I even begin to identify
: a single word in Chinese?

They are close in some ways, but not in others! At some point I will have
to go and get and present here the relevant info.

I don't have the books here at hand (so the following comes from memory),
but many _amazingly_ close parallels have been identified by Chinese
scholars. In particular, certain early Mayan ideograms, and certain very
early (archaic) ideograms coming from one of the coastal areas of China

But I can only track down a few of those obsure publications at a time.
The whole thing is rather time-consuming...

: My expertise is in Mesoamerican agriculture. Needham knows a great deal
: about the development of technology, but he is not a specialist in
: agriculture (not even Chinese agriculture).

Jeffrey, I repeat this again: Needham is an extremely competent scholar
whose methodology was never in doubt! He cites plentiful and solid
references for every point he's making.

: I have read many works
: by Chinese scholars who study agriculture (Dwight Perkins, Wittfogel,
: Kang Chao, Rawski). The types of agricultural systems present in
: China versus Mesoamerica are different. A nonexpert may not always
: recognize these differences, but to the expert they are very obvious.

He documents numerous parallels.

: > Here are the quotes from Needham's book:
: >
: > "It is in the bark-cloth (tapa) complex that we meet with perhaps the MOST
: > with Oceania and Asia;

: Bark-cloth is widespread, but the trees that the bark comes from is different
: in the Americas, versus Oceania, versus Asia. What evidence is there these
: technologies were not invented independantly?

You've snipped out some of the answer to this already!

Of course the plants may be different. But the technological parallels
are overwhelming.

Do you suppose the persons who introduced these methods to the Americas
would have brought the supplies of bark with them on their sailing rafts?
Be serious, Jeffrey!

: > Most likely you are incorrect on this.
: >
: > Needham discusses distillation methods used by Meso-Americans, concludes
: > that these methods are of East Asian type, and says:
: >
: > "There has been some argument, of course, as to whether any this pre-dated
: > the Spanish and Philippine influence, but there is a very early edict of +
: > 1529 prohibiting the distillation of maguey pulque, and this surely points
: > to a pre-Columbian origin." (p. 57)

: Pulque is not distilled, it is fermented.

And THEN it can be distilled.

: There are three beverages
: produced from maguey (or agave). 1) aguamiel: unfermented juice from
: the plant, 2) pulque: fermented aguamiel. 3) tequila: distilled aguamiel.
: Archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence indicate a long precolumbian
: tradition for pulque and aguamiel. At the same time, this same evidence
: clearly indicates that tequila is a much more recent development (post-
: Columbian).

There's some disagreement among scholars on this. There's some evidence
that pre-Columbian natives knew of distillation. Needham points to the
fact that the distillation methods they used in post-Columbus times were
clearly Asian, and not European. Perhaps the burden of proof should be on
those who would claim that the natives learned Asian (and not European)
methods from the Europeans?

: Jeff and Mary Parsons have an excellent book on the use
: of maguey by both modern and ancient Mexicans. I can't remember the
: exact title, but it is published by the University of Michigan.



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