Just in time to coincide with Netflix’s release of a new Marco Polo television series, America Unearthed plans to investigate whether the Venetian traveler to China learned of America from his hosts in the Middle Kingdom during his Asian travels from 1271 to 1295. While some mainstream historians have questioned whether Polo ever actually traveled to China (or just collected traveler’s tales), fringe historians have cited Polo in support of a plethora of interesting and unusual ideas.
The subject of whether the Chinese came to North America before Columbus is so well worn that I’m not entirely sure how to summarize it without turning this background section into a book. The story begins, more or less, with European speculation that crossing the Atlantic would eventually cause someone to reach Asia. Columbus originally thought that he had reached India when he landed in the Caribbean. From this idea came the conclusion of some early Iberian explorers and writers that the peoples of the Americas seemed Asiatic and therefore likely came originally from Asia. By the eighteenth century this idea was widely accepted; Thomas Jefferson described it in his Notes on the State of Virginia: “the resemblance between the Indians of America and the Eastern inhabitants of Asia, would induce us to conjecture, that the former are the descendants of the latter, or the latter of the former.” Because in those days, the reigning history texts claimed that the Flood of Noah was the starting point for discoverable history, the incursion couldn’t have happened that long ago, perhaps within five hundred years (c. 1200 CE) according to scientific literature of the time.
Now here is where the trouble starts. If East Asians came to America, then it stood to reason that various Asian peoples could have come to America at various times. The most famous of these claims is among the earliest. In 1761 the French orientalist Joseph de Guignes proposed that a myth from the Chinese Liang Shu of Yao Silian (c. 635 CE) about the journey of a Buddhist monk to a far eastern land called Fusang in 499 CE was actually an account of a voyage to America, particularly the area now known as British Columbia. He also argued that the Chinese were really Egyptians and that therefore Egypt discovered America. So persuasive were his claims that Fusang appeared on many European maps of America in the late 1700s. The claim fell out of favor until 1875 when Charles Godfrey Leland revived it in his book Fusang: The Discovery of America by Chinese Buddhist Priests in the Fifth Century. Leland placed Fusang in Mexico on the strength of the now-discredited idea that the Maya religion was pacifist and similar to Buddhism. I’ve covered Fusang in more detail here, but the bottom line is that Gustaaf Schlegel pointed out in 1892 that the story cannot be taken literally and that earlier authors ignored crucial disconfirming details like the presence of horses, not seen in America before the Spanish Conquest. Nevertheless, in 1913 Alexander M’Allan wrote Ancient Chinese Account of the Grand Canyon to argue that the Fusang text and an analysis of Chinese language proved that the Chinese explored the Grand Canyon. Today, John Ruskamp advocates the position that geometric Native American petroglyphs in the Grand Canyon are remnants of this Chinese incursion into America on the basis that they bear a slight similarity to random Chinese pictograms. Chinese writing relies on precision, yet none of the petroglyphs is an exact match.
While some people still promote the Fusang legend as a true account of an American voyage, by and large the story has faded into the recesses of fringe history due to a lack of supporting evidence. The Chinese seem to have had no record of the New World; two of the most important geographic works written in the century before Marco Polo—the Ling-wai tai-ta of Chou Ch’a-fei (1178) and the Chu-fan-chi of Chau Ju-Kua (1225) make no mention of the Americas, and the references to them to Mu-lan-p’i (likely southern Spain) claimed by fringe theorists and the president of Turkey to be references to the Americas are attributed not to Chinese prowess but to Arab sailors. It’s quite clear this land isn’t America since Chou Ch’a-fei talks about how the country’s “ships are the biggest of all. One ship carries a thousand men; on board are weaving looms and marketplaces” (trans. Friedrich Hirth and W. W. Rockhill).
On a separate track, in 1827 John Ranking proposed that America had been conquered by “the Mongols, accompanied with elephants,” during the thirteenth century, and that these hordes of the Khan had sailed the Pacific, ravaging American and taking over Mexico and Peru, thus accounting for the “Chinese” characteristics of Central America. He claimed that the Mongols had conquered as far as Rhode Island. In terms of evidence, he suggested that the remains of the mastodon and mammoth, so recently a sensation in America, were in fact the historical remains of the Khan’s elephant army. Further, these elephants were carried on Chinese junks. After reading Marco Polo’s claims about the failure of the Mongols to take Japan, he said it was probable that they continued on to America. He cites Garcilaso de la Vega’s Royal Commentaries of the Inca (9.9) to the effect that the Peruvians retained a memory of the Chinese or Mongols arriving.
This is an interesting case and worth a brief note: Ranking used the non-literal 1688 translation of de la Vega by Sir Paul Rycaut, and in it, the translator states that the story tells (in modern spelling) of “men of an extraordinary size, which arrived at that country in great junks.” Here, though, the “Chinese” junks are an artifact of translation. De la Vega was quoting Pedro Cieza de Leon (Chronicle of Peru 1.52), and in more accurate translation by Clements Markham (which I confirmed with the Spanish original) gives it as “boats made of reeds, as big as large ships.” And the Chinese disappear. (If you’re interested, these “Chinese” giants are the same giants used to support Nephilim theories and famously executed by God for public sodomy; Rycaut, unlike Victorian translators, kept in the sodomy.)
In 1831 the Asiatic Journal summarized Ranking’s book succinctly: “we can only express our utter astonishment that a person capable of appreciating the nature of evidence of any kind, could have ever imposed upon himself so far as to imagine he had adduced one single fact in support of his theory.” Nevertheless, the idea of the Mongols being involved in an Asian incursion to America did not entirely die. The anthropologist Alice Kehoe supports a version of this idea in part with her belief that that the Athabaskan language is Chinese and came to America as a result of the Mongols pushing the Western Xia dynasty out of China. These Chinese, she says, became the Navajo and other Athabaskan-speaking peoples.
All of this is prologue, of course, to the big gun in the field, Gavin Menzies, who has made his career arguing that the Chinese visited America in the fifteenth century, starting with his 2002 book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World. In it, he (or, rather, the 130 [!] publisher’s staff members who according to Australia’s ABC rewrote, revised, and produced the book under his name) claimed that between 1421 and 1423 Admiral Zheng He circumnavigated the world and his crew impregnated women worldwide. Menzies’s evidence was paper-thin, relying on a fanciful interpretation of maps (involving “decoding” them to reveal America, Australia, and Antarctica), an argument from ignorance, and (frankly) racist assumptions that “slit-eyes” indicated Chinese people anywhere in the world and that Victorian descriptions of “Mongoloid” bones represented actual Mongolians. Menzies then asserts that the whole expedition was covered up and evidence destroyed to protect imperial China’s economy. I wrote about some of the exasperating efforts to evaluate Menzies’s rapid-fire mistakes back in 2003 and 2004. No documents exist and no artifacts have ever been unearthed to support Menzies’s theory; however, last year Menzies tried promoting anew an eighteenth century Chinese map showing the Americas as a genuine copy of a fifteenth century original. As I pointed out at the time, the map shows the mythical Island of California, a Spanish mistake made in 1510, and therefore cannot be the result of an actual Chinese navigation of California in 1417-1418. Experts, in fact, declared the map a fake made within the last 50 years.
Anyone interested in why Menzies is wrong can visit the very detailed 1421 Exposed website.
Most recently, as I wrote about earlier this week, the historian Benjamin Olshin has revived interest in a map he believes might be an eighteenth century copy of a depiction of the Pacific Ocean and Alaska brought back from China by Marco Polo. Olshin was unable to authenticate the map even after extensive analysis, and the fact that it was delivered to the Library of Congress by Marcian Rossi, a science fiction writer with a track record of creating apparent hoax documents (including Pliny the Elder’s map and manuscript depiction of the Caribbean!), casts serious doubt on the authenticity of the chart. I’ve outlined some other objections to the map’s authenticity in my review of Olshin’s book on the subject. Interestingly the supposed Marco Polo map makes use of the same Fusang claims that were all the rage around the time Rossi first began exhibiting the map in 1904.
Our specific claim tonight on America Unearthed involves the question of whether in the time of Marco Polo the Chinese and/or Mongols built the Berkeley Mystery Walls (also known as the East Bay Walls), a series of disconnected, low, and crude rock walls in the Bay area. Reaching a maximum of five feet in height, these walls all together run at least twenty miles. The only archaeologist who has commented publicly on the walls, Russell Swanson (of whom I can find no information), connected them to rock walls as far as San Jose, fifty miles away, according to fringe history books, suggesting that there was a widespread wall-building effort. In 1997, Swanson wrote in Bay Area Rock Art News (15.7, June 1997):
In the past twelve years, I have visited over forty miles of these stone structures. To call them walls is something of a misnomer. Some do go in a straight line, others twist like a demented snake up a steep hillside, others come in a spiral two hundred feet wide and circle into a boulder with a six-inch knob carved on the top of it. Some are massive, over six feet tall and run for miles.
Virtually no work has been done on them, and little is known about them except that fringe history sources say that they have been reported since the earliest European visits to the San Francisco Bay area. The description Swanson gives, though, suggests that they had some symbolic religious or astronomical purpose; however, while some walls may be Native constructions, local history and legend says many are from the colonial period nd were used to mark land grants and to help clear ranch land.
In 1904 Oriental languages professor John Fryer of UC-Berkeley proposed that the Chinese built the walls, while others attributed them to the Mongols, mostly by comparison to the Great Wall of China. America Unearthed says in its promotional materials that “The only historical precedent for a miles-long, manmade, ancient wall is the Great Wall of China,” which must be quite funny to the people who live near the Long Wall of Quảng Ngãi in Vietnam (16th to 19th centuries), which is almost 80 miles long; the Antonine Wall (40 miles, c. 150 CE) and Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland (73 miles, c. 122 CE); the Roman limes of Germany (353 miles, 1st to 3rd centuries CE); the Walls of Ston in Croatia (about 5 miles, 15th century); the Classical “long walls” of Athens, Corinth, and Megara; etc., etc. There were a lot of walls all around the world. In fact, some of you might even remember (as the show does not) that Wolter “investigated” a supposedly miles-long dry-set stone wall in Hawaii last season, the Menehune Ditch, or Kikiaola.
Is it so difficult to think that the native people of California could also pile rocks into a wall? The argument against it is that the native people built no other permanent structures. Yet in the Old World, the people of Göbekli Tepe and other prehistoric sites in the Near East worked monumentally in stone while living in non-stone buildings, or none at all.
We open with the claim that in 1433 “a powerful empire” launched a fleet in search of “new lands” and that “some” believe they reached America all the way from China. I have no idea where this date comes from since Zheng He died in 1433, at the end of his seventh and last voyage. Then the opening credits roll. After the credits, we travel to San Francisco, California, to view the East Bay Rock Walls (Berkeley Mystery Walls). Wolter says he received a tip about the walls, he wonders why we know so little about these walls. Wolter destroys part of the wall with an hammer (with permission from the same National Park Service he last year accused of conspiring against him) and then examines the damage with a loupe to determine that it was limestone. He then talks with Olav Phillips, who tells Wolter that no professional has studied the wall. (This is true: I asked several archaeologists, and I couldn’t find one who had even heard of the wall.) Wolter concludes from the weathering on the rocks that it is at least 200-300 years old, which is actually somewhat younger than documents suggest that the wall might be, if we can trust 1980s newspaper stories that say that Spanish mission records make mention of it in the colonial period.
Phillips tells Wolter that there are many hypotheses about the walls’ construction. These include Native American builders, the Lemurians of the island of Mu (this is connected to ancient aliens, Mt. Shasta, and Theosophy—don’t ask), and the Chinese. At least Wolter admits Mu was not real.
Wolter suggests that the East Bay walls are “similar” to the Great Wall of China, though to what end I can’t imagine. Wolter says he tested stone boat anchors in San Francisco Bay to see if the Chinese left them “thousands of years ago” but he couldn’t prove they weren’t what they seem to be, Victorian.
Then we go to commercial.
After both an on-screen and verbal recap, Wolter goes back to Minnesota to study Chinese navigation with (Joe) Gunnar Thompson, a fringe theorist described here as an anthropologist. He holds a PhD, but his dissertation was on affirmative action compliance systems, and his PhD is in rehabilitation counseling. (He did work for his master's degree on speech symbols in aboriginal art and has a 1968 bachelor's in anthropology.) Thompson believes Marco Polo visited Seattle. I studied one of his books years ago, and it’s crap. Just dumb, dumb, crap. His modus operandi is to misinterpret texts and maps to conform to speculative hypotheses and then ignore any contrary evidence. He gives Wolter a history of Zheng He’s expeditions, and he shows Wolter a map of the Chinese view of the world, and he claims that the mythical ring of land around the ocean is assumed to be the Americas. It’s a stretch. He shows another Chinese map of the Americas made in the 1600s, but Thompson falsely claims that it is from the 1400s. The reproduction map is clearly labeled as being from the 1600s on the damn map.
After a recap, Wolter misunderstands the Chinese map as mentioning Marco Polo, whereas Thompson claims that the map is based on Polo’s work. Thompson thinks that the Pope assigned Marco Polo to spy on the Chinese and map North America. This would be a neat trick considering that the Chinese neglected to do so.
Thompson believes that the Ortellius map shows the west coast of North America, but neither Wolter nor Thompson cares to mention that Ortellius drew his maps in the late 1500s—after the exploration of America and 300 years after Marco Polo! Most of his world maps show California, and that is no mystery. Here is the map Thompson shows. It is a 1603 printing of a 1570 original. You can clearly see that California and the “Red Sea” (the Gulf of California) are labeled with their correct Spanish names (while the rest of the map is in Latin), an obvious indication that the American portion was drawn from Spanish—not Marco Polo’s—data. Oh, yeah: The continent is also labeled America. (Full size here.)
There is no evidence whatsoever that Polo—who brought no known maps back from China—had anything to do with these maps.
Based on these lies, Wolter travels to China to visit the Ming-era sections of the Great Wall, constructed 200 years after Marco Polo. The earlier walls, from before the Mongol invasion, were located elsewhere. There is, of course, the logical question of why the Mongols would build a Great Wall in America modeled on the one they overran to get into China in the first place. Surely they recognized that it wasn’t very effective!
After an on-screen recap and a verbal recap, Wolter asks about the less beautiful sections of the Great Wall of China, the sections from before the Ming dynasty. The oldest sections of the wall, from 200 BCE or so, are also built of piles of dry set stones—but Wolter calls his “hard evidence” when it is not hard evidence at all. It’s a stylistic comparison, and one could equally well make the same comparison to the Vietnamese Long Wall I referenced in the background section, which uses the same technique. Wolter visits a restricted area of the Great Wall by special permission of the Chinese Communist government, which means that even dictatorships are actively not suppressing his work, contrary to his repeated claims that governments around the world are in cahoots with his enemies.
This trip to China, however, produced no results other than a few glamour shots of Wolter on the Great Wall, so Wolter moves on to learn about Zheng He.
After yet another on-screen and verbal recap, Wolter now asserts as fact that Marco Polo was a spy for the Pope, and announces his belief that Polo reached America. Wolter emphasizes the “map evidence” that doesn’t really exist, and he then tries to learn about Zheng He and his alleged voyage to America, a voyage fabricated from spare parts and chutzpah by Gavin Menzies in 2002. “All that’s missing is physical proof!” Wolter says. As though that’s a small thing! In real life Zheng He traveled to Africa, which would be amazing enough on its own, but Africa just isn’t sexy enough for American television. A Chinese admiral tells Wolter that he thinks Zheng’s fleets might have made it to America around 1433, but even he admits there is no evidence for this. Wolter says that it’s a “good point” that there is no physical evidence, but he is “more convinced than ever” about Chinese voyages because “the map evidence is strong.” He is still unaware that he hasn’t actually seen a pre-Columbian Chinese map of America
Back in the United States, Wolter travels to Columbus, Ohio’s Heartland Bank to follow up on a tip about a piece of physical evidence. In a safe deposit box, Wolter views an artifact owned by a Dr. Lee. And then we go to commercial.
After a verbal and on-screen recap Dr. Siu-Hueng Lee shows Wolter a disk with Chinese characters of the Emperor Xuande from the fifteenth century. According to Lee, the medallion was found in the Appalachian Mountains in 1993. But with no provenance, there is no way to prove the claim. Lee shows Wolter another piece of evidence, a 1602 map of the world by Kunyu Wanguo that is traditionally believed to have been based on European knowledge gained from the Jesuit Matteo Ricci. (The copy seen on the show is a later Japanese copy.) Lee believes that the absence of Florence and the Papal States on the map proves it had to have been drawn long before, and consequently North and South America (which appear on the map) must have been known centuries—or even thousands of years—earlier. This is frankly ridiculous. The text on the map, written by Ricci himself, reads: “In olden days, nobody had ever known that there were such places as North and South America or Magellanica, but a hundred years ago, Europeans came sailing in their ships to parts of the sea coast, and so discovered them.” Somehow the Chinese were OK with adding that coda to their great discovery! Wolter ignores this and declares the map conclusive proof that the Chinese discovered America before Columbus and then waited until after Columbus to tell anyone about it.
12/20/2014 02:27:11 pm
What a load of crap. I have a theory myself who built the East Bay Rock Walls. They were built in the eighteen hundreds by Viking from Minnesota, with help from Indians from Cleveland, Pirates from Pittsburgh, Giants from San Francisco, Padres from San Diego and blessed by Angels from California.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
12/20/2014 04:43:03 pm
1/9/2015 04:37:13 pm
5/10/2015 07:31:24 am
If Chinese alien giants could build this wall in northern California 14,000 years before the pyramids in Egypt; why can't we build another wall at our southern border in California today?
7/22/2015 01:30:46 pm
Once again a brief comment on the geological reasoning or lack thereof. It appeared that lichen on the stones was facing a variety of directions. It should be oriented in similar directions for adjacent boulders, as lichen prefer to grow in certain orientations to the sun. Lichen grows relatively slowly so it suggests that the wall is quite young. Additionally there are methods to actually date the lichen that would also help to establish the age of the wall.
7/23/2015 05:14:54 pm
With regards to the Berkley Walls, even seeing them from the comfort of my armchair, I can see they are typical of the dry stone walls seen all over Scotland... walls which I myself have helped to maintain There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these are of that construction type, but that due to the earthquake-prone region, they have crumbled down much quicker than would be the case in Scotland. The Berkeley Walls have nothing whatsoever to do with the Chinese, who I have no doubt had information on the Americas, whether directly or indirectly. But those walls are of European colonial origin... definitively. The Vikings never reached in to North America to any notable degree, nor indeed the Chinese. Those who build walls are settlers, not visitors.
12/20/2014 02:27:21 pm
I've seen that Gunnar Thompson before on some other show.
Steve In SoDak
12/20/2014 02:29:58 pm
after reading this I've decided to come out and tell everyone that I'm over 3,000 years old, I "discovered" North America, I'm not an alien or a giant, there is no "big foot" (unless you count Shaquille O'Neils feet) Marco Polo is a game played by kids in a pool so History Channel lets get back to basics and do WWII week, maybe hit some Vietnam Conflict stuff and by all means lets do some ancient history....Romans, Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians minus the aliens.
12/20/2014 02:46:27 pm
"I'm over 3,000 years old"
12/27/2014 12:54:03 pm
I'm watching the episode on History Channel now, and all I can say is that Marco Polo may well have gone somewhere beside a pool, but NoAmerica seems pretty unlikely. Also, to Steve in SoDak... there is no history without Ancient Aliens, dude. Listen to those guys. After all, they've got evidence. *G*
12/20/2014 02:49:39 pm
I dropped out of History's recent "Who Really discovered America ?" special as soon as Wolter appeared as an expert talking head, repeating his same flawed analysis on rune stones, and such. (So I gave up around the 15 min mark, IIRC, out of the 80+ min running time)
12/20/2014 02:57:56 pm
It's sad when the only rational thing that Wolter has said, is that Mu is not real.
Lost Templar Freemason Giant Pirate
12/20/2014 03:04:51 pm
I can't believe he just whacks an ancient wall with a hammer. No self respecting archaeologist would ever do that, permission or not. Right then and there he exposes that he will do anything for attention/$$ with little respect for science or method.
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/20/2014 03:08:00 pm
Yeah, duh …
12/20/2014 03:29:33 pm
Yep. Nobody believes that the Vikings came to America before Columbus.
12/20/2014 04:31:26 pm
Great. Way to go EP, you conjured his ass up.
12/21/2014 05:40:19 am
Couldn't have been me. I've been silent about the Nazis :)
12/20/2014 04:39:13 pm
With your history, Phil, I'd suggest NOT bringing racism into the conversation.
12/21/2014 05:35:36 am
"until you begin to play by the rules of science"
12/26/2014 04:15:12 am
luv... he may have more of a grounding in the hard sciences
12/27/2014 06:31:24 am
Get lost, "."! You know nothing of my background and aren't qualified to speculate.
5/10/2015 07:13:27 am
Well, except the Polynesians… they went everywhere.
12/20/2014 04:23:01 pm
Oh, had I known SW was not 4 miles from my current location messing with Ed Levin Park I would have had to go and pester his film crew! But it looks like he was pretending he was there, because that park is on county land above Milpitas and Fremont, not in San Jose, which is the other side of the valley, (and the greener foothills) and 40 miles from San Francisco. On the Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton side you get the dry hills. (San Jose is actually larger than San Francisco, but we call it 'the city' anyway). The Ed Levin park people know who built the rock walls behind the park. Settlers. As for the ones in Berkeley, probably other settlers. Milpitas has over 74,000 people. San Jose has over half a million. The whole county has a million.
12/20/2014 04:28:58 pm
Actually there are some walls in the Santa Cruz hills too and some on the other side of San Jose, so technically if he went to Alum Rock first it would have looked a little like the Ed Levin region. I suppose he thinks Alum Rock refers to some kind of mythical group called the Alum. Lol. It's named after a special rock, but not the KRS. Maybe SW should have went in search of the rock. It's interesting looking up close, but hardly left by giants or aliens.
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/20/2014 04:53:39 pm
What do you guys have against Asian people, that you are so dead certain that The Chinese DIDN'T (because they COULDN'T ???) reach North America … ???
12/20/2014 05:11:31 pm
What do YOU guys (you and Scott) have against Native Americans, that you are so dead certain they DIDN'T do a goddamn thing in North America...because they COULDN'T?! Why must it always, always, always be someone else, from another part of the world, who left their mark on the continent?
12/20/2014 05:22:05 pm
I have nothing against the Chinese or any other group reaching America pre-Columbus or even pre-Viking. But I have this nasty bad habit of insisting on a thing that some people would refer to as 'evidence'.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
12/20/2014 05:27:39 pm
They could have, if they'd wanted; Zheng He's ships were more sophisticated than those from the early Age of Exploration. But why would they have wanted to sail across the Pacific? Zheng He sailed the Indian Ocean because the Chinese already knew there were lands there to trade with, and possibly because Zheng He himself, a Muslim, wanted to perform the hajj. The Chinese had no inkling of the existence of land in the eastern ocean beyond Japan, so there was no reason for them to go that way. And, of course, the only reason Europeans wanted to make the reverse voyage is because they thought they could get to Asia that way.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
12/20/2014 05:38:42 pm
Sorry, I meant "15th-century Chinese account."
12/21/2014 05:33:54 am
Rev., now you're just trolling. You're not *that* retarded.
12/21/2014 07:20:53 am
If your going to decide one day that trolling a blog is something productive in your life. Then make a damn effort to be a good troll, and not just the same old boring ass simplistic troll that even the people who agree with you can spot.
12/21/2014 02:17:44 pm
Rev. Gotsch, I'm pretty sure most of the people who regularly comment on this blog share the (scientifically sound) belief that "Asian people" came to the Americas millennia before any hypothetical fifteenth century Chinese voyage, so I don't really think the race card is appropriate here.
12/23/2014 01:17:54 pm
Folks might have gone across Berengia prior to 200,000 B.C
12/27/2014 06:33:08 am
Hey, ".", remember what happens when you shitpost?
Good catch Kal, I'm in the bay area also, Sonoma to be exact and there are walls up here also. One stretches across a good part of a friend of mines ranch, the ranch is from his mothers side of the family. His ancestor come here in the 1790's with the Mexican Army and when he mustered out in about 1810 or so the land was deeded to him by the government. The wall, and you can, if you know where to look, can find small piles of stones that were other walls encompassing the exact area of the land grant. According to the family the other walls were knocked down over the years when more land was purchased and added to the ranch.
12/20/2014 06:05:36 pm
We used to drive pass the walls between Oakdale and Sonora, every Summer, during my childhood, on our way to theSan Joaquin Valley to visit friends. I'm over sixty, now, but it was common story that the walls were created by indentured Chinese Laborers, in the 1800's, to clear the fields of the massive numbers of large rocks, to facilitate farming/Ranching. I always thought this was common knowledge.
12/20/2014 06:11:21 pm
The clear genetic evidence of Asian looking Native Americans from several instances of either island hopping through the Pacific, or polar ice and land bridge hopping from Siberia, at the end of the ice age, point to there being Asians in America long before Columbus. Whether or not they sailed in stone age times or after is not well documented. Also there would be a reason for there not to be records in China of later voyages, before the settlers in colonial times, that most of the voyages to America before it was called that would have bee one way. They never went back. They kept going. They settled here (and in South and Central America). It wasn't until colonial times that ships were built well enough to come and go if they wishes.
12/20/2014 09:09:25 pm
Well, Scott jumped into the pool to relax, got water on the brain, and started playing Marco Polo.
12/20/2014 11:50:53 pm
Whatever Scott presents, it's worth remembering that he is not in any sort of control over this show. He is not a producer. He is not a writer. He is the host. Nothing more. Budget concerns and materials presented in the show are not his to arrange.
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/21/2014 04:52:50 am
Yes … duh … "America Unearthed" is a TV show
12/21/2014 06:02:35 am
"60 Minutes" is also a TV show. What's your point?
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/21/2014 06:46:02 am
Excellent point well made … TV shows are NOT all the same, are they … ???
12/21/2014 07:11:35 am
And therefore your point is ... ?
12/21/2014 08:54:46 am
Doing some day drinking, Phil?
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/21/2014 09:05:05 am
Well, again (and again) … tTe H2 "America Unearthed" TV shows have a positive value in stimulating and encouraging interest in and discussion of North American history and prehistory ...
12/21/2014 09:35:36 am
Cancer has stimulated a lot of interest in and discussion of the meaning of life and the stages of death. That doesn't mean we wouldn't be better off without it.
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/21/2014 10:02:13 am
"Bullying" has stimulated a lot of interest in promoting healthier Human interactions ...
12/21/2014 10:12:20 am
And your point would be, Phil?
12/21/2014 10:37:59 am
The biggest irony about Rev is the fact the he fails to see that this is just a blog and that he has been known to make comments that are mocking peoples ethnic and racial backgrounds.
12/21/2014 11:05:38 am
Make a list of terrible things, any you like. It would probably be accurate to say that any of them have provoked interest and discussion. That doesn't justify any of them, nor does it acknowledge or address the problems they cause.
12/21/2014 11:22:56 am
I am not making insinuations, I know for a fact that Rev, saw fit to make fun of both my and Jason ethnic backgrounds, in my cause using a well known slur that is directed at the Irish and making jokes about potato eating, and in Jason's case making comments about the stereotypes of people who are descended from Sicilians.
12/21/2014 11:40:37 am
Matt, my last post was directed to Mr. Gotsh, not you.
12/21/2014 11:50:04 am
My apologies then tm.
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/21/2014 11:58:39 am
See, "bullying" includes deliberately attributing ideas or connections to another person -- falsely …
12/21/2014 12:04:46 pm
Yes, it does.
12/21/2014 01:33:23 pm
Rev, your performance in this thread has been quite pitiful. You really need to come up with better material. Or at least delight us with the golden oldies. Everyone loves to be told how long you've known Scott Wolter and that he's not a Nazi :)
12/21/2014 02:27:18 pm
Rev. Phil Gotsch
12/21/2014 02:40:03 pm
12/21/2014 03:06:54 pm
There is no positive value when the program knowing uses falsehoods and half truths to make money while at the same time says serious research and institutions are lying and wrong. Much like a person lying about having a masters degree until he is challenged on it and then a few months later he lies that he even claimed to have the masters degree.
12/21/2014 04:19:13 pm
Mr. Gotch is interesting with his repetitive posts. I don't think I've ever seen a Gandhi troll before.
12/21/2014 04:38:33 pm
Since we're always hearing from Phil, let's revisit the insight of Lynn Brant, former friend of Scott Wolter.
12/22/2014 01:00:16 am
12/27/2014 06:34:11 am
Hey Rev., you're not the "third party" in Scott Wolter's agate lawsuit, are you?
12/21/2014 02:50:22 am
“All that’s missing is physical proof!"
12/21/2014 03:08:49 am
So China spent hundreds of years exploring and mapping the Americas, and - being extensive traders at the time - kept this secret to themselves. AND, when the Europeans many centuries later try to claim this "new" land, the Chinese never mentioned that this was in fact their land - or if they for some reason did not want to claim it - could have least offered to sell their maps and deep knowledge of a vast area where they had spent valuable resources exploring.
1/3/2015 01:32:03 pm
why does anyone think old-tyme explorers came here to do hard work making rock walls, my grandfather tells of the construction on our family land, his great uncle paid Chinese laborers to clear the land, our land surface was 20 to 40% covered by small rocks, the laborers used carts to remove the rocks to a good spot, ridgelines, or property lines, now our land is safe for cattle to graze, this is proven calif. history, the landowners were never broadcast in interviews, because we,(our family founders), and other locals know those walls are there, who put them there, when and why they put them there, also it took decades to build those walls, how long does rev. phil think marco polo spent constructing walls for my grandpa, talk about stupid!
12/21/2014 03:41:29 am
This show is the pits! I had to hell of a time just remaining interested enough to finish watching the episode! It sure seems like SW is burning out. I wonder if they will get another season out of AU?
12/21/2014 08:35:16 am
I can't see them doing another season, you are right that Wolter is burned out, he seems obviously unsatisfied with what he is doing, he just can't say so publicly. H2 and the production team has taken a show that was interestingly crazy and just made it boringly crazy. Let Wolter be Wolter and make a show more like Season 1, just as fringe crazy but at-least interestingly so.
12/21/2014 03:59:08 am
During my four trips to China I don't recall seeing any native American artifacts in any of the museums I visited. My Chinese friends are justly proud of their culture and long history. They have never been hesitant to brag about China's historical accomplishments. If there was any remotely credible evidence that Chinese discovered the Americas, China itself would be shouting it much more loudly than any of the nitwits on AU. Just look at the claims they are making about their "nine dash line" in the south China sea.
12/21/2014 04:18:13 am
If the Chinese had expeditions going to the Americas why did they end up purchasing New World food items from the Spanish? Sweet potatoes, maize, and peanuts were introduced to China around 1560.
12/21/2014 04:28:15 am
I'm not opposed to the idea of the Chinese reaching America before Columbus. In fact, I would find that an interesting topic to watch a show about. Unfortunately, all I get is America Unearthed, which manages to make a hash of it. Even the title of the episode, "Marco Polo Discovers America", feeds into the underlying eurocentric racism in this show by suggesting that if the Chinese got here it was only because an Italian led them.
12/21/2014 04:53:21 am
Also, WTF with all the "Marco was spying for the Pope" references? Even if true, I fail to see the relevance in this China-discovered-America myth. I get the feeling we'll be hearing more about this supposed catholic conspiracy in the future.
12/21/2014 04:59:41 am
It's Gunnar Thompson's hobbyhorse. He wrote a book about it called "Marco Polo in Seattle" or something along those lines. I haven't read that book, so I don't know what is evidence is. He's cagey about it (along with the actual subject of his PhD) on his website.
12/21/2014 02:55:20 pm
I saw a comment on Wolters blog that indicated that the last episodes will be full of Templars. Since I'm still in school, I'm not up to date with the complete Templar history, so I did a little bit of looking and there is a supposed link between the Templars learning to fight from the Shaolin Monks in China. So Wolter might be filming another episode while in China. But he also mentioned not having anymore treasure hunting episodes, so it will be interesting what physical evidence he ties to it.
12/21/2014 05:17:25 am
I love how when first examining the wall SW's guest/expert talks about the theories on who built the wall, why is there never any mention of the Spanish and Mexicans? When SW talked about the age of the stones I got really irrate then....hello haciendas, missions, ranceros, etc? 200-300 years ago would be right during the time of hispanics moving north to colonize and settle.
12/21/2014 07:50:17 am
SW has done this before when he has found mounds and old grain mills and said it must have been someone other than natives. He's making it up.
12/21/2014 10:17:50 am
This reference to my ongoing research study is totally erroneous. First, I have never studied anything near the Grand Canyon. Second, the items of my research, some of which are exact matches with known oracle-bone and Bronze era Chinese scripts, are not based solely upon statistical comparison. Rather, the findings of my study are established by independent EXPERT EVALUATIONS WHICH CONFIRM THAT THESE SYMBOLS ARE, IN FACT, READABLE ancient Chinese symbols and writings.Additionally, National Park Service senior personnel state that the age of the most important of these items agree with the known age for use of the script symbols in Asia, and that their forms are not known to be associated with any Native American tribes. In short, this reference to my work by Jason is simply wrong, misleading, and calls into question the credibility of the article.
12/21/2014 11:47:45 am
I'm surprised it took you a whole day to Google yourself and find this. My comments were based on your published articles and the Chinese characters you compare to petroglyphs there. Your analysis is rather like the people who see straight lines anywhere in the world as Irish Ogham. You need more than one character here or there to make an intentional set of symbols.
12/21/2014 12:29:04 pm
I went to check out your website. Some of your petroglyph to Chinese alphabet comparisons do look similar to me, but it is obvious others are just wishful thinking. Even the ones that look close lose something when you pull back and see the doodles that are obviously just stick figures of people and animals, mixed into the middle of what you suggest is a complete sentence. Does it really make sense that someone recorded a ritual offering to Da Jia but stopped to draw what looks to me to be a buffalo, a face, a person, a turtle, a snake, another turtle and lets say a deer between and around the Chinese letters? Then in other places, a rock might be "literally adorned by hundreds of other petroglyphs", but you can only identify one of those petroglyphs as Chinese. I hope you also recognize the incongruity in the way you emphasize how some of the petroglyphs are spot-on to the Chinese letters and use that to prove your point, but then accept the ones with only a circumstantial resemblance using...artistic license?...honestly you don't really explain it.
12/21/2014 01:36:20 pm
An Ed.D. *and* an MBA?! John Ruskamp must be a genius or something!
12/21/2014 10:32:10 am
A scholarly journal, magazine, officially published large market work or news source would not print these opinions, and certainly not mine, for instance. This blog is an editorial op ed review and commentary forum, by the looks of it, never claiming to be a high profile scholarly journal. It may have mistakes and questionable facts, ideas, fringe theories and other forms of 'editorial content' and should not be judged as any kind of high profile peer review, magazine or news source.
12/21/2014 11:11:00 am
I had so much fun watching this episode. I was laughing out loud. Somebody piled up rocks to make walls? It must be the Chinese! They make walls! I just wish I could get someone to fly me to China , and Hawaii, to chase down nonsense. I'd say Leif Erickson discovered water skiing if you would fly me around the world to do it. But this episode was a great relief from the lost whatever of wherever episodes of late. Bad science can equal great fun.
12/22/2014 02:08:26 am
I guess I should not read Jason's review first. I literally fell asleep while SW was poking around the great wall. I have bluestone walls just like the California ones on my property in Pennsylvania. Maybe I can get AU to come over to my place and declare that they are old, and must have been put there by Templar Alien Egyptians.
12/22/2014 04:15:13 am
I supposed it depends on what you mean by Eurasian. There were many migrations into America, the last being the group that became the Eskimo and Inuit, around 1500 years ago. There is some very tenuous evidence that might indicate an occasional ship that blew off course and ended up in the Americas, but none of the artifacts (coins, amphorae, etc.) involved has been conclusively shown to have been brought to America before Columbus. There have been a number of scholars, including Michael Coe in his classic text on the Maya, who have suggested Chinese or East Asian influence on Mesoamerica, though again no artifacts support this.
12/22/2014 04:33:18 am
Its interesting that they don't look into those artifacts or the Maya connections. I know the Inca's had a large seafaring trade up and down the coast but were not really known to travel great distances away from land.
12/24/2014 06:56:55 am
There is also significant evidence of Norse exploration onto Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic.
12/22/2014 06:16:11 am
SW should not be hitting rocks with a hammer on a county park land on TV. No wonder they keep kicking him out. His forgetting entirely the Spanish heritage of the valley, or ignoring it, is extremely messed up, not scientific, and utterly baffling. Forensic geology. Bah! The Ohlone and the Mexicans are probably laughing about this episode.
12/23/2014 11:44:33 am
Discussion and opinion is one thing, scientific proof is something else. I suggest reading Nancy Yaw Davis's "Zuni Enigma" and Dennis Stanford's "Across Atlantic Ice" for starters.
12/30/2014 02:35:50 pm
I can't speak to Stanford's book but I have read Davis and wouldn't hold her up as a model of 'scientific proof'.
12/30/2014 02:42:48 pm
12/30/2014 03:07:06 pm
Jean Stone, you sound (and I say this in the most non-creepy way possible) like a woman after my own heart :)
12/23/2014 02:47:03 pm
A Chinese coin from the Song Dynasty was found in Chinlac, British Columbia, and dated to cca 1125. The site was abandoned by the natives in 1735, which was a pre-contact date for that tribe.
12/24/2014 01:28:53 am
The coin could have made its way through from the Far East via the Russians, who were present in Alaska since the late 17th century. You don't need to appeal to Chinese contanct with America to explain its presence.
12/24/2014 11:21:39 am
the trade in mastodon and mammoth ivory?
Procopius was Worse than Suetonius
12/24/2014 11:36:43 am
Assuming that the Black Death was global, and it
12/24/2014 02:28:19 pm
Look, everybody! "." is trying to sound smart.
Procopius was not somebody's well paid hack... he was a demi-urge!
12/26/2014 04:04:00 am
Lets face it... the good and ethical Christian monk had this
12/26/2014 02:23:50 pm
(1) Stop posting.
12/24/2014 04:07:44 am
I just read the paper at the end of that post. It is much more pragmatic than the quote above and its source blog post.
12/24/2014 12:51:20 pm
Marco Polo? Hey, I have a 36 acre boulder farm on the side of a mountain....I saw some scratches on the glacial erratics that MUST be Chinese...and some look like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Send Scott here to check it out...at a nominal fee for usage of our land of course......
Lost Templar Freemason Giant Pirate
12/24/2014 04:20:47 pm
Just make sure when you contact him, you send it on crumbling ancient parchment in a mysterious unmarked tube. Maybe include some Templar or Viking artifacts that you don't need anymore. Mark the location with a big hooked X labeled "Cursed Treasure Here??".
12/24/2014 01:20:19 pm
Has anyone seen the preview for the episode where SW discovers that Santa Claus is real and a Freemason?
12/24/2014 02:29:24 pm
Does Santa have Jesus blood? Or am I thinking of that Glenn Beck movie?
12/27/2014 04:02:23 pm
I had to laugh when I read this ...
12/28/2014 03:38:24 am
I've seen some archaeological evidence of ancient Chinese presence in East Berlin :)
The Other J.
1/1/2015 07:06:08 pm
1/10/2015 04:32:55 pm
Something that nobody has mentioned about Marco Polo being a spy for the pope. If true, it means that more than a century before Columbus, the papacy new about the existance of America. Yet the Catholic Church does not make any mention of this in its voluminous archives. It also made no effort to send expeditions to bring missionaries to the Americas. After 1492 there were extensive efforts to convert the natives. Before then, nothing. Why?
2/18/2015 09:08:50 am
Geez Louise. All these attempts at intellectual discussion. It's a TV show. It's states lots of rediculously stupid untrue ideas to get people to watch. I would find it extremely diifcult to believe that the host of the show believes any of what is portrayed. Come on now - like he really believes that 15 or more theories on the discovery of America are all true. Give me a break. Enjoy it for what it is but for Goodness sake don't give any credence whatsoever to any of it.
Frank Groffie, PG, CEG
11/30/2015 12:56:35 am
I happened on one such rock wall on a hike east of San Jose earlier in November (2015), and I’ve observed a few over the years. It appears to me to have been a deer-hunting blind built by the local Ohlone. I’ve developed a write-up describing the theory based on the topography, vegetation, ethnographic reports, etc. Find it at http://www.frankgroffiesmiscellany.info/files/The-East-Bay-rock-walls.pdf
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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.
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