October 13, 2008

No primitive Indians here

U.S. history books have Indians all wrong, says authorMann said researchers now believe Indians migrated to the Americas 20,000 to 35,000 years ago and grew to a population estimated at 40 million to 60 million people. And they lived in cities 800 years ago as big as those in Europe at the time.

One city in Mexico had 215,000 inhabitants who lived on an island in the middle of a man-made lake. Another, near modern-day St. Louis, attracted thousands of inhabitants before it was destroyed by floods. A city in Peru was surrounded by a wall greater than the one built around Rome.

The Inca empire, he said, was the largest in the world at its height. The Incas created a huge network of roads.

In the Amazon, Indians altered thousands of square miles of wetlands, Mann said, so they could live on mounds of dry ground and travel on raised causeways. They also created vast designs of raised earth whose purposes scientists still don’t understand.

In other parts of the Amazon, he said, researchers have found Indians made the dirt more fertile by mixing it with charcoal and millions of smashed pieces of pottery. Some estimate that 12 percent of the Amazon was transformed for agriculture.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom.


Genevieve Lopez said...

US History books are garbage anyway. In 12 years of public school US History, we never covered WWI (only in Western Civ, AKA European studies), the Korean war, the first Gulf War, or most of the Vietnam War; I never hear about Hmong involvement in Nam unless I'm living somewhere with a Hmong population or talking to a war enthusiast. The only time it was addressed that the Civil War was not fundamentally about slavery and freedom was when I went to a school in the southeast US. I only once had a teacher mention that (Disney) Pocahontas was a total piece of shit when I was in middle school, but he had some weird ideas about Pocahontas (irrelevant documentaries re: Powhatan adoption story, no rape, etc., and documentaries on the Iroquois??) and American lack of fiscal responsibility as a colony as cause for the Revolutionary War.

I'm glad that official researchers are finally criticizing these collections of cheap tabloids as a shitty excuse for every other history book available in a decent library.

Genevieve Lopez said...

Sorry to post again.

People also like to pretend that Native Americans had no official writing system, vehicles (even as simple as a cart or wheelbarrow), advanced technology like flight (This was the only picture I could find of the Central American figure I'm talking about, plus the Nazca lines; I saw a really good documentary on this a long while ago, but I can't remember the name. Unfortunately a lot of links come up for the ever-popular alien theories when I try and search for it.), or even boats and sea/river travel and trade. This is similar to attitudes held in the Western world about African civilizations (including Egypt), only because Native Americans are considered a "dead" people, it's "okay" to hold these beliefs of savagery and primitiveness.

dmarks said...

If the Civil War was not about slavery, then, what was it about? I've had this sort of conversation so many times:

Other: The Civil War was not about slavery.
Me: What was it about:
Other: States Rights
Me: The right of states do what?
Other: Have slaves.

So it comes right down to slavery.

The pre-Columbian airliner idea is really Van Daniken-style fakery. It has been applied to ancient Egypt also. Pointing out hoaxes like ancient societies building airliners does nothing to diminish actual and significant accomplishments of these societies.

Genevieve Lopez said...

1. I wasn't aware that the airplane thing was a hoax, if it is. That doesn't really change my statement, though.

2. By "about" slavery, I mean a "civil rights" thing; it wasn't an ideological war solely based on the treatment of human slaves. The war was fundamentally ("officially") based on economic upheaval with the rapidly industrializing north vs the less-so south. That the southern economic system was based around transport of goods and plantations supplying food, cotton, etc. and was thus heavily reliant on slave labor. The subsequent abolition of slavery in the United States was as much a political move as it was an ethical one. The ideological clash between the Union and the Confederacy on this (and other, including state vs. federal rights) issue(s) widened the rift and helped each side to "other"-ize their opposition. These differences were obviously boiling over well before the war officially began, but there was a kind of outpouring explosion of emotion and hostility over what had gone unspoken and held-in for so long when the "catalyst" (in quotations because it was only a catalyst in the sense of timing, not in setting-off the actual issues themselves) of legal issues happened. The issue of slavery was deeply ingrained in most of these issues, but to say the Civil War was only about slavery is a gross oversimplification.

Genevieve Lopez said...

Add/edit to 1. ...doesn't really change my statement, as you pointed out.

My work keyboard sucks...

dmarks said...

1. The sculptures as such are not hoaxes. Perhaps "hoax" is not the best term for the fake stories about ancient civilizations.

Now, consider the idea that the fly-like sculpture was indeed a toy in imitation of an actual aircraft (as opposed to being an sculpture representing an insect or a fanciful winged lizard).

The wing configuration would fit that of a supersonic jet. Gliders and slow propeller planes tend to have long wings sticking out the sides, not the close "delta" wing formation. So, suppose ancient Colombia built jet airplanes. Don't you think there'd be some evidence of the machine shops, metallurgy, fuel extraction and storage, and test runways you'd need in order to have a jet program? Windsocks? Piles of lost luggage?

To look it another way, suppose that they really are models of jets. Would this mean that the full-size jets really existed? Let's say sometime in 4000 AD, an archaeologist finds a cache of Star Trek Enterprise toys in a basement. Would an archaelogist be able to make a sound conclusion that the civilization that cranked out the Star Trek" toys also made full-size working starships?

The idea that the Colombian sculptures are small models of actual aircraft gets more and more unlikely.

2. "... but to say the Civil War was only about slavery is a gross oversimplification."

Quite true (your statement)

Rob said...

I've addressed the issue of prehistoric Native flight before. See Hot Air Over Nazca and Inca Airplanes on Journeyman for details.

My education didn't cover the Vietnam War or the first Gulf War either. Of course, the Vietnam War was still happening and the first Gulf War hadn't happened yet when I was in school. ;-)

Slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War, but it was tied up in other issues. Here's one take on why the war broke out:


1. Economic and social differences between the North and the South.

2. States' versus federal rights.

3. The fight between slave- and non-slave-state proponents.

4. Growth of the abolition movement.

5. The election of Abraham Lincoln.