I’m not sure what to make of a claim circulating this week of a Chinese connection to the prehistoric lands of what is now the U.S. state of Georgia. According to an article published on Ancient Origins, written by Jon R. Haskill of the Indigenous Peoples Research Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring Old World contact with pre-Columbian North America, a Chinese votive sword was discovered in Georgia last year. The object, measuring about 30 cm (12 inches) in length, was allegedly uncovered in a creek bed, and it is now being promoted by Siu-Leung Lee, the Chinese man who appeared on America Unearthed to argue for a Chinese presence in prehistoric North America based on another Chinese artifact allegedly found in America under mysterious circumstances, as well as a misreading of an old map. Lee now claims that he knows of several Chinese objects from Georgia, which he is keeping secret until he can publish the details, though he does not say where.
Haskill is the author of a book “documenting” a connection between the North America and the Chinese based on the appearance of dragon motifs in art.
According to the IPRA, the object was examined by the University of Georgia and determined to be made of lizardite, and IPRA claims that the object has Chinese characteristics:
A claims that the object has Chinese characteristics:
I’ll be honest: I don’t really know what I’m looking at here. My first impression when I saw the object is that it had Mississippian or Mesoamerican stylistic traits, but the poor quality of the carving compared to the typical work of those cultures suggests to me that the piece might well be a fake. Something about it just looks wrong, like the way art critics realized that the Getty kouros was fake based on its appearance. The low quality of the carving, of course, can’t exclude the possibility that someone was incompetent at some point in the past. Frankly, it looks more like a Burrows Cave artifact than a genuine piece of Chinese art. I’m not familiar with anything similar in North American art, but since there is no claim of a date except on stylistic grounds, it could have been made at any time, including 2014, the nineteenth century, etc.
The shape of the dagger’s blade is also a bit unusual, though it is similar to a Chinese dagger that appeared in the video game Far Cry 3 at the end of 2012. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about ancient Chinese art to have a more developed opinion of it.
Haskill goes far beyond even this meager evidence and suggests that Chinese and Olmec art are so similar as to have a connection, and claims that the Chinese gave the Olmec their culture and their social system—including social stratification and aristocracy. This seems to be an echo of the old claims made about Fusang, based on a spurious reading of a mythical Chinese land as Mexico.
7/2/2015 07:20:42 am
Does the hilt remind anyone else of a Thor's hammer pendant?
7/2/2015 07:27:22 am
I can guarantee you that is not indigenous North American or Mesoamerican.
7/2/2015 07:29:11 am
And Shang jade. Whether any of it is real is beside the point for the question at hand.
7/2/2015 07:37:25 am
I would also note that by "looks like" I would also include things that look like bronze age China, but are not. I have a very nice replica of a Lewis Chessman I got in Scotland. It is not medieval, and wasn't made in Scotland or Scandinavia, as far as I am aware.
7/2/2015 07:46:44 am
I have some very nice soapstone Fu dogs and a beautiful Chinese bronze bowl with astrological and dragon scenes, but while they look ancient, they are nineteenth century reproductions made for the tourist trade.
7/2/2015 11:16:49 am
My sister carved a soapstone Budai statue when she was a teenager, so I'm pretty confident Zheng He visited Wisconsin.
7/5/2015 02:38:04 am
That reminds me of the time I had to gently point out to an antique dealer that the antique Chinese jade box shown on his website was a fake on the strength that there were 20 identical items listed on EBay. He did remove the item however
7/2/2015 08:06:22 am
Imagine my surprise on learning that Lizardite has about the same hardness as a fingernail. The object is carved, with no joining of different materials. It may not be a fake, but its manufacture is exacly what one would expect of a faker with a single skill (carving).
7/2/2015 08:11:36 am
"I found this ancient Chinese dagger in a river in Georgia."
7/2/2015 11:15:26 am
At first, I thought you were talking about the country of Georgia, and that maybe the Chinese had fought giants in the Caucasus. But then I read further and realized they were just hangin' with the Maya in pre-Columbian America.
7/2/2015 12:37:00 pm
Even if the sword is authentic, that fact alone does not prove the Chinese visited pre-Columbian North America. To offer only that possibility disregards any other plausible explanations as to how it found itself in Georgia.
7/3/2015 09:42:48 am
7/5/2015 01:12:21 pm
I am a stone carver by trade. It's how I make my living. After just a casual look at the photos, I feel pretty comfortable saying that this piece was made using modern rotary tools.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.