March 29, 2011

Debating Chief Joseph's cuneiform tablet

Indian Country Today recently posted an article on Chief Joseph's Cuneiform Tablet, a subject I covered a year ago:

Where Did Chief Joseph Get His Mesopotamian Tablet?

I answered the title question on Facebook:

Brought from the Old World a few decades earlier as a souvenir; traded or lost until it reached Joseph. Not proof that ancient Sumerians visited America. That's my theory, anyway.

This led to the following debate with "Rick":Rob I'm prone to beleive Joseph's version of the story. But I may be biased in this respect he was my G.Great Grandmother's cousin! Did you read the article?Yes, I read it. And I've heard of the story before. "White men had come among his ancestors long ago" could mean a small party of Europeans crossing the continent in the 1700s. It's still consistent with my theory.Explain the legends of white skinned tribal member in the far north from before the Mayflower landed on the East coast! And don't forget the rune stone found on the continent and the inscription rock in the eastern seaboard that seem to have ancient Hebrew and Phonecian writings. I'll stick with Joseph's version!My version is Joseph's version. 100-150 years ago is "long ago" in pre-industrial terms.

Earlier is possible too

Sure, some Vikings or other pre-Columbian explorers could've brought the tablet with them. This still contradicts the implied claim that ancient Sumerians visited America. There's no reason to believe this theory except an unreliable interpretation of Joseph's vague words.Consider that he said those words around 1880 and he was talking long long before his time which would add conservatively more than 200 or 3000 years I would bet. Remember that the tribes had tales about great monsters walking on two legs and hairy beasts with long noses and horns (tusks?) that would imply that the collective memory of the tribes could reach back thousands of years not hundreds! Vikings would not be carrying worthless to them tablets around the world on their small sail boats. And the Irish explorers left no records so we don't know on that count!A Viking or other explorer could've had a personal keepsake that seemed "worthless" to others. Such as an old tablet found in a raid or bought in a marketplace in eastern Europe.

Sumerians wouldn't have visited America and left zero archaeological evidence except one tablet. A cross-country expedition that reached Idaho or wherever should've left several traces.

All this is speculation based on some white man's interpretation of Joseph's words "long ago." (Is that a direct quote or a paraphrase? Who knows?) It could refer to 3,000 years ago, or to 100 years ago. We simply don't know.

Without further evidence, I'm going with the simplest explanation. I.e., mine. <g>

To sum it up, any pre- or post-Columbian explorer could've brought the tablet to Joseph's ancestors. Someone visiting a couple of centuries before Joseph's time seems most likely to me.

For another claim about a non-Sumerian explorer, see New Films on Prince Madoc.


dmarks said...

So far, none of the pre-Columbian claims of Europeans going to North America, other than Vikings at Vinland, has panned out at all. And many have proven to be outright hoaxes.

Anonymous said...

Heck, Long ago could've meant a couple of years ago. I know I think of the time before my four-year-old daughter was born as "long ago" because it seems like a different life.

Unknown said...

Oral history tells a different story.