Re: maize in ancient India: transpacific links (cont.)

Yuri Kuchinsky (
12 Jan 1997 17:20:19 GMT

Julia E Smith ( wrote:
> In article <5b3jas$>, Yuri Kuchinsky <>
> wrote:

> >The importance of Johannessen's research is that it suggests that
> >mythological and cultural elements migrated along with the seeds and were
> >adopted in India. This means that a substantial number of people migrated
> >from America to India -- otherwise it would have been impossible for
> >those cultural elements to establish themselves in India.

> Now, wait a minute. This is a pretty radical claim, and one
> unsubstantiated by facts. Take, for example, the spread of Christianity,
> which was done predominantly by tiny groups of missionaries.

Yes, Julia, tiny groups of missionaries backed up by big fleets with guns.
I assume you're talking about modern history. In any case, you should
specify which model of Christian proselytizing you wish to bring in here.
As my main specialization is in biblical and Church history, this may be
an interesting discussion.

> If large numbers of people went, why don't they show up in other aspects
> of culture,

But perhaps they do?

> or in "foreigners' enclaves?"

But you may be setting up a rather narrow criterion here.

> >Another important background consideration is the fact that we know that
> >Indian culture and society had a period of expansion culminating at the
> >time when the whole of Indonesia was Hindu, early in the 1 millenium. You
> >can see on the map that Bali is quite far from India. So Indian culture
> >was a maritime culture, and they were skilled in ocean travel.

> Look at a map again. You will note that to get from India to Bali, it is
> easy to go along the coast from port to port (up and around to modern day
> Malaysia, down to Sumatra, Java, and then to Bali. As I look at the map,
> I don't see a single point at which they would have spent an entire day
> out of sight of land. There's a *huge* gap between this feat and sailing
> across the open Pacific.

But Julia, the Polynesians sailed all around the Pacific, and they did
carry a substantial Indian influence.

> >Generally, I believe there's a strong possibility that ancient native
> >Americans possessed a sophisticated maritime culture that linked with the
> >maritime culture of India, and that these cultural areas were exchanging
> >information.

> If there was a sophisticated maritime culture in the Americas, where was
> it? What evidence do you base it on? There is lots of evidence of small
> boats, mostly for fishing, up and down the Pacific coast, but not of
> anything more significant.

Again, the Polynesians is the crucial link here. Their ocean going craft
was/is extremely sophisticated. They were the greatest sailors of the
ancient world, far superior to the Europeans. I don't want to blame the
Europeans for not appreciating this for many centuries. But _now_ we do
have plenty of solid studies documenting all this. If you wish me to
recommend you some reading, I can... Also, there are now some solid
studies telling us that the traditional American sailing craft was similar
to Asian and Polynesian craft. The Polynesians were the connecting link --
what they had for sailing craft was shared by many others around the

> >As I say, these are important issues that definitely need further
> >research. We are not even close to having all the answers. Everyone is so
> >busy slamming each other in these discussions that we simply don't have
> >the time to formulate constructive and testable hypotheses to explain
> >these findings... <grin>
> Actually, I thought that for the most part we are putting together test
> hypotheses and comparing them to the extensive body of already existing
> data that bear on the subject.

I should hope so. But there's been way too much confrontationality in
these discussions -- I think as a result of dogmatism, lack of
information, and some unnecessary pre-conceptions that may spring from an
unwillingness to credit ancient tribal peoples with these great

> H1: The Indians of (sometime between 1st c. BC and 12th c. AD) had the
> maritime technology to sail across the Pacific *systematically* (that is,
> not simply a ship cast adrift on the open Pacific that lucks out).

So let's suppose that the above is neither wishful thinking nor uninformed
speculation -- but a working hypothesis that may or may not be confirmed
through careful analysis.

Best regards,


=O= Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto =O=
--- a webpage like any other... ---

We should always be disposed to believe that that which
appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the
Church so decides === St. Ignatius of Loyola