The claim immediately reminded me of very similar arguments made by Ignatius Donnelly in Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882).
Plato says that in Atlantis there was "a great and wonderful empire," which "aggressed wantonly against the whole of Europe and Asia," thus testifying to the extent of its dominion. It not only subjugated Africa as far as Egypt, and Europe as far as Italy, but it ruled "as well over parts of the continent," to wit, "the opposite continent" of America, "which surrounded the true ocean." Those parts of America over which it ruled were, as we will show hereafter, Central America, Peru, and the Valley of the Mississippi, occupied by the "Mound Builders."
It is astonishing that the above paragraph could equally have come from Donnelly’s Atlantis or Hancock’s America Before. The only real way to tell the difference is that Donnelly, being a Victorian, imagined Atlantis engaging in direct colonial rule. Hancock, in a postcolonial world, sees a more diffuse cultural imperialism, something like the impact of Hollywood movies on the Third World.
But Donnelly provides the template in more ways than this. Let’s try to identify which passages belong to Donnelly and which to Hancock in the list below:
1. The grave-cists made of stone of the American mounds are exactly like the stone chests, or kistvaen for the dead, found in the British mounds. Tumuli have been found in Yorkshire enclosing wooden coffins, precisely as in the mounds of the Mississippi Valley. The articles associated with the dead are the same in both continents: arms, trinkets, food, clothes, and funeral urns.
The odd-numbered passages belong to Donnelly and the even-numbered ones to Hancock. Except for some quaint turns of phrase and some outdated terminology, Donnelly’s passages could slide into America Before unnoticed. I was struck by the “stunningly similar” arguments and evidence, even at more than 135 years’ remove.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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