It fascinates me how false claims, no matter how old, continue to be repeated endlessly, almost without change, century after century, even in the face of new evidence. Consider the case of Mexican statuary. The various human figure sculptures of Teotihuacan, the Maya, the Olmec, etc. are currently used as evidence for the following fringe theories:
Or, of course, they were just depicting the wide variety of facial features that can be found in any population. No, of course that can’t be it. Apparently many Victorians assumed all those brown people look too much alike for that. Not all Victorians were so blinded, though, especially those with ties to native cultures. Mexican historian Manuel Orozco y Berra wrote, for example, in 1880-1 that “it matters little […] that they should resemble Jews, Asiatics, or Egyptians; they are not such, in truth…” (Historia Antigua de Mexico, vol. 2, trans. Zelia Nuttall).
So, as we can see, the theory that peoples from all over the world were depicted in Mexican art is exceedingly old, and modern writers are merely emphasizing one aspect or another of this old theory. Never mind, of course, that the clay heads bear the closest resemblance to actual Mexicans rather than imaginary voyagers from continents once thought more worthy of providing a suitably noble prehistory for the New World.
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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