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Maps, Explorers & Adventurers => Explorers & Adventurers => Topic started by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:07:47 pm



Title: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:07:47 pm






                            Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!






by Angus Sutherland

Today we know that Zheng He or Cheng Ho, China's greatest navigator (1371-1435) was not the first who discovered America. He reached the North American continent before the European explorers such as Magellan, Columbus, Vasco Da Gama and Captain Cook.
There are also Chinese maps of the Americas that show that the Chinese were familiar with the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North and South America for about 2,000 years.
 


Or perhaps as it was suggested ancient Semites (early Hebrews) sailed to America already 2,500 years before Zheng He and Columbus. While we try to find out "who" really was the true discoverer of America, it would be worth to mention that an extensive scientific survey of the North American continent was made by the Chinese almost ... 4,500 years ago!


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:12:04 pm







 According to the early Chinese records, China possessed advanced knowledge obtained from the geographical survey of the world taken shortly after the Great Flood!

There is an ancient Chinese piece of literature known as the "Shan Hai King", which means The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Its author, "the great Yu" who became Emperor in 2208 BC is almost as legendary as his work. He wrote it approximately in 2250 BC, during the so called Yu period (2257-2208 BC) in China. This date - 2250 BC is particularly interesting because it is about a century after the death of Almodad. Almodad meaning "immeasurable", was the seventh generation descendant of Noah. He was known to "measure the earth to its extremities".

But later it came a dark period for the great work "Shan Hai King". This totally underestimated literary work was relegated and announced as unimportant.
But why? The answer is simple: the Chinese could not identify the invaluable geographical knowledge it contained.

In fact the oldest Chinese literary work describes - North America!
 


Some years ago, the "Shan Hai King" was for the first time reexamined and reevaluated. The Fourth Book entitled "The Classic of Eastern Mountains" has four sections which describe mysterious mountains situated "beyond the Eastern Sea" - on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Each of the four sections of the book describes the geographical features of a certain mountain such like mineral deposits, shape, height, vegetation and all rivers located in the vicinity! Then other mountains are described in the same way and additionally the distances and directions are also provided for a better orientation.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:13:57 pm







Some years ago, the "Shan Hai King" was for the first time reexamined and reevaluated. The Fourth Book entitled "The Classic of Eastern Mountains" has four sections which describe mysterious mountains situated "beyond the Eastern Sea" - on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Each of the four sections of the book describes the geographical features of a certain mountain such like mineral deposits, shape, height, vegetation and all rivers located in the vicinity! Then other mountains are described in the same way and additionally the distances and directions are also provided for a better orientation.

If you guess the book describes western and central North America - you are right. To the same conclusion came those who investigated and analyzed the great work of the Chinese emperor Yu. But please remember that this book describing the North America was written soon after the Great Flood.

Then who made this extraordinary geographical survey of North America soon after the Flood?

The first part of the book starts with description of the Sweetwater River. Later it proceeds southeast to Medicine Bow Peak in Wyoming, then to Longs Peak, Grays Peak, Mount Princeton and Blanca Peak Colorado. Then continues to North Truchas Peak, Manzano Peak and Sierra Blanca of New Mexico. Through Guadalupe Peak and Baldy Peak, this astonishing description ends with Chinati Peak in the vicinity of the Rio Grande, Texas.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:16:32 pm





The second part of the "Shan Hai King" is describing an expedition over an area starting in Manitoba, then proceeds to Moose Mountain in Saskatchewan. From there continues to Sioux Pass in Montana, Wolf Mountain and again to Medicine Bow Peak in Wyoming, later to Longs Peak, Mount Harvard and Summit Peak in Colorado; then to Chicoma Peak, Baldy Peak, Cooks Peak and Animas Peak, New Mexico.


This strange survey continues to Mexico describing the Madero, Pamachic, Culiacan and Triangulo heights and at the end reaches the Pacific Coast near Mazatlan.

In the third section of the book there are described mountains located along the Pacific Coast such as Mount Fairweather, Mount Burkett in Alaska, Prince Rupert and Mount Waddington in British Columbia. Mount Olympus in Washington is also described along with Mount Hood in Oregon, Mount Shasta, Los Gatos and Santa Barbara in California.

The last section describes Mount Rainier in Washington, mount Hood, Bachelor Mountain, Gearhart Mountain, Mahogany Peak and Crane Mountain in Oregon; then Trident Peak and Capitalo Peak in Nevada.

The oldest Chinese work of "The Classic of Eastern Mountains" is not only a geographical survey of high level but also a very strange book describing nature in different regions of the North America, its plants and animals.

The other parts of the ancient Chinese work, like the Ninth and Fourteenth books are full of worth to mention expressions:

"luminous" "great canyon", "place where the sun is born" or "a stream flowing in a bottomless ravine". Are the early surveors talking about a sunrise in the Grand Canyon? Other sections of the Chinese book written more than four millenia ago is under thorough investigation. But preliminary it is already confirmed that the remaining sections deal with further explorations of the Great Lakes and regions of Mississippi Valley...

Who were those anonymous surveyors working with their extremely accurate geographical studies of the American landscape? And did it more than 4000 years ago?...


http://www.ufoarea.com/aas_chinesediscovered.html


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:24:34 pm







                                   ANCIENT CHINESE KING 'LED TRIP TO AMERICA'





Paul Sieveking
Sunday Telegraph

SCANDINAVIANS are preparing to celebrate the 1,000 years since Leif Ericsson sailed to the New World from Greenland. However, the idea that Norsemen were the first to reach America by sea is widely contested.

For instance, Mark McMenamin, a professor of geography and geology at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, is convinced that the Carthaginians discovered America between 350 and 320 BC. In an issue of the Numismatic magazine, and at a meeting of the American Friends of Tunisia Association last May, he interpreted a series of puzzling gold coins of that period as depictions of the known world, which includes a land mass to the west of Spain.

Experts on ancient trade routes believe that the Carthaginians reached the coast of Brazil; Punic amphorae have been found underwater in a bay near Rio de Janeiro and 4th century BC Punic coins have been excavated at seven sites in the eastern United States.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:26:18 pm







American archaeological finds offer a riot of anomalies, including ancient coins and many epigraphic puzzles. The Bat Creek Stone from Tennessee bears a Hebrew inscription said to date from about the second century AD; an inscription found near Philadelphia and dated to 800-600 BC seems to be in Basque.

The maverick historian Farley Mowat has just published The Farfarers: Before the Norse, in which he argues that the first Europeans to reach America were “Albans” who set off from the north of Scotland in the 8th century AD in search of walrus ivory. The 78-year-old Canadian author maintains that the remains of long houses far above the tree-line in northern Quebec were built by these immigrants. His 36 books on the life, history and ecology of North America have sold 15 million copies, and he shrugs off the scorn of conventional historians.

Evidence suggests that America has long been visited both across the Atlantic and the Pacific. The earliest human remains yet discovered in the New World, the skeleton of a young woman found in Brazil and carbon-dated to 11,500 years, shows distinct Australoid features, while the 9,300-year-old Kennewick Man from Washington State most closely resembles Polynesians of the South Pacific.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:28:29 pm







 Xinhua, the Chinese press agency, reported that similarities between almost 300 markings found on pottery, jade and stone at unspecified ancient native sites in central America closely resemble 3,000-year-old Shang dynasty characters for the sun, sky, rain water, crops, tress and stars. American and Chinese pictographs in 56 matching sets were shown to senior academics at a symposium in Anyang, former capital of the Shang dynasty.

These impressive similarities add fuel to theories that Chinese arrived in the Americas before the end of the Shang dynasty in 221 BC. Shang legends state that a king led his people on a journey to the east, with some historians believing that he took them across the Bering Strait to North America.

The Chinese classic, the Shan Hai King of about 2250 BC, contains what seems to be an accurate description of the Grand Canyon. Peanuts and maize have been found at ancient Chinese sites dating back to 3000BC. The orthodox view is that neither of these plants left their native America before their export by European colonists in 16th century AD.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:33:34 pm






In AD 499, a Chinese monk, Hui Shen, returned to China claiming to have spent 40 years in the land of “Fu Sang”. He left a record of the country he visited, which has been recorded in official histories – a land thought by some modern scholars to be ancient Mexico.

Then there is the 3,000-year-old pottery found on the Valdivian coast of Ecuador, decorated and incised in exactly the same way as pottery from the Jomon area of Japan, and not preceded in Ecuador by plainer and simpler bowls and urns.



Paul Sieveking is editor of Fortean Times.
http://www.goldenageproject.org.uk/124chineseking.html


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:38:05 pm
                                       (http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/bnrs/chapter1.jpg)








The group of explorers paused in the brilliant, early afternoon. They looked out over tangled sand and gravel to a river boiling around rocks as it emerged from the canyon. In places, dark green cane grew almost down to the brown water. Tall, jagged cliffs were etched in sunlight above them. One of the men shaded his eyes and pondered a chunk of blue-green rock he had picked up.


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/santaelena.jpg)
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park
Photographs courtesy of
Two Dog Woman Graphics


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:48:56 pm
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/terlinguacreek.jpg)
Typical "badlands" or "hoodoo" erosion,
looking southeast along the Javalina
and Alamo washes near the
Old Maverick Road,
Big Bend National Park
Photographs courtesy of
Two Dog Woman Graphics







Behind these travelers were a hundred miles of land covered by cactus and yucca, with grasses and trees growing along infrequent but beautiful streams.

The man standing in front walked down to the river, dropped his pack, pushed back his hat, and sat down on a rock. His few companions did likewise, taking off their sandals and bathing their feet in the turbulent water where it ran up on the sand, cold in the sunshine.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:52:54 pm
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/reed.jpg)





From his pack the man took a notebook made of a few strips of cane, cut not far north, dried and shaved almost flat, and laced together with a cord at one end. Earlier he had written on thin strips of wood, but his supply of these had run out. Taking a small square stone from his pack, he dipped a bit of water into its low depression. He then started rubbing a stick of solid ink into the water. Gradually the water turned black. Setting the freshly made ink to one side, he took a small brush between his fingers, then looked around at the clear day for a moment before beginning to write.
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/rivercane.jpg)


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 07:57:49 pm
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/2dwg_extx1Av2.jpg)
Santa Elena Canyon,
Big Bend National Park:
looking downriver along the Rio Grande;
Texas is on the left, Chihuahua on the right.
Photograph by
Two Dog Woman Graphics






“Have walked about three hundred li since Bald Mountain. Here, Bamboo Mountain is near the river which looks like a boundary. There is no grass, or trees, but some jasper and jade stones. The river is impeded in its course here by rocks, but flows on southeast to the great body of water.”



Years later the account this man was writing would find its way into one of the oldest books in the world, the Shan Hai King, (1) often called the Mountain-Sea Classic or the Classic of Mountains and Seas. Edited at least three times and subjected to one national bookburning, it survived and retained the story of explorations over unknown lands.

The man was Chinese, the time was some 3,500 years ago, and he had been walking across part of what was later called the trans-Pecos area of Texas.

And that statement and the foregoing scene are speculative—yet perhaps not entirely fictional. This is one of the best examples of a historical account that could be true. (2) The story is just tantalizing enough to be fascinating, and this interpretation of the account is speculative enough to drive many historians into a frenzy.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:04:16 pm







To be able to judge the truth of the story—to consider the evidence for the story—a person needs to know a few elements of Chinese history, beginning with a look at the Shan Hai King. This book containing a wide variety of descriptions and stories is called the world’s oldest geography. (3) It is also one of the earliest works of Chinese literature. In addition to geographical descriptions, it speaks of monsters and weird beasts, myths and wild tales; and it includes enough of these to cause many scholars either to brand the work nonsense or to ignore it completely. (4)


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/84_137sm.gif)
European ideas of New World monsters:
fanciful drawings of animals supposedly encountered
by Amerigo Vespucci.
Ogilby, John. America, London, 1671.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 84-137


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/74_233sm.gif)
 Monsters from the European tradition. Land and
sea monsters from Sabastian Munster's
Cosmographia universalis, 1550.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 74-233



However, it contains no more wonders than other records accepted as generally true by later critical readers. Many European works regarded as classics are laced with metaphor (or outright lies), but these works are not therefore condemned. (5) Sir Walter Raleigh speaks of headless warriors; Marco Polo writes of the Orc, a bird so big it could fly off with an elephant in its talons; Herodotus, one of the greatest Greek historians, includes winged serpents and ants as large as oxen; and even the level-headed conqueror Julius Caesar, in his account of northwestern Europe, speaks of the unicorn and of elk which never lie down to rest. Much of what they say, not all, can be confirmed in other sources. Thus, the basic reliability of these writers is not questioned.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:12:13 pm







But even if an occasional monster in the Chinese classic can be overlooked, there are other problems.

The date of the Shan Hai King is hard to estimate, even more so the stories it collects. Furthermore, no certain author is known. Such things worry historians.

Early Chinese writers ascribed the collection to Yu, Minister of Public Works under Emperor Shun, in 2205 B.C.E. (6) The date is regarded by most later historians as being too early—much too early—in the near-legendary Hsia Dynasty. (7) Yet, since the turn of the present century, archaeologists in China have steadily pushed back the dates of known cultural achievements. (8) Dynasties mentioned in earlier classics, once considered legend, have been documented through recent field work.

It appears more and more likely that China’s civilization has all the antiquity claimed by the oldest stories. The Shan Hai King is certainly well over 2,500 years old and quotes much earlier stories.

But still other problems stand in the way of accepting the document as true. Could the Chinese have carried out such a journey, to present-day North America, some thirty-five centuries ago?

For generations historians considered that the Chinese were not an ocean-going people. This opinion has largely changed. (9) The Chinese are now known to have sailed open-ocean vessels since the eleventh century B.C.E. and probably earlier. Stones, similar to anchors carried by early Chinese vessels, have been found off the California coast, but their authenticity as anchors has been refuted. (10) No Chinese shipwrecks of three millennia ago have been found conveniently off the California coast. In fact, no remains of Chinese ocean-going ships can be dated to the time of the Shan Hai King, but descriptions of Chinese ships of a somewhat later time, capable of making an ocean voyage west to Africa, indicate previous ship development.


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/74_1323sm.gif)
 A Chinese warship, c. 1520
Institute of Texan Cultures, 74-1323
The Shang Dynasty


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:17:36 pm







The Shang Dynasty, the earliest so far confirmed by most modern archaeological studies, existed from the eighteenth to the thirteenth centuries B.C.E. and was an advanced culture. (11) Chinese of this period were highly learned: they had a written language; a bronze fabricating technology; fully developed institutions such as art, agriculture, and government; and distinctive architectures, weapons, musical instruments, plumbing, kitchens, courts, and chariots among the items archaeologists call material culture. They also may have had certain practices not socially acceptable today, such as occasional human sacrifice. Yet it seems clear that had they wanted to, Shang people could have put a party of explorers on another continent.

But did they?

That question causes one to look closely at the language of the Shan Hai King. The writing often seems a curiously choppy account which reads like a collection of notes.

The book in existence today does not contain complete, original records. Even though the Chinese people are very devoted to their classics and are constant note-takers and compilers of encyclopaedias, they have experienced troubled times. In 213 B.C.E. the emperor Ch’in Shih Huang decided to abolish all records of the past. He was not the first nor the last dictator to decide that accurate knowledge of the past was a dangerous thing in the minds and hands of the people. His premier, Li Ssu, suggested that destroying books—history books, to be sure, among others—would accomplish the desire to control information rather neatly. The effort was made but was ultimately unsuccessful. Books hidden in walls and wells later came to light.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:19:15 pm







By the fifth century C.E., the volume of records and books in China had grown to such a total that no one could hope to read even a small fraction of those in existence. This was a different problem. The government decreed a massive editing project during which almost all former written words were read by teams of scholars and condensed. Originals were destroyed.

In the thirteenth century more condensation was ordered, and even the fifth century versions were cut down. Again, the “originals” were discarded. The enormous effort was understandable. One encyclopaedia, in manuscript form, had grown to the equivalent length of 22,937 books.

Because of such condensation and destruction, the Shan Hai King, originally about thirty-two books long, exists in an eighteen-book version, each section from one to thirty pages in length and in summary form. (12) The later compilers assumed readers would know the context. Thus, what is reprinted today is certainly not the whole story.

Here is some of what is left:

“. . . to the south, Lone Mountain is found. Upon this there are many gems and much gold, and below it many beautiful stones. Muddy River is found here, a stream flowing southeasterly into a mighty flood, in which there are many T’iao-Yung. These look like yellow serpents with fish’s fins. . . .

“. . . three hundred li to the south, Bald Mountain is found . . . wild animals are found here which look like suckling pigs, but they have pearls. They are called Tung-Tung, their name being given to them in imitation of their cry. The Hwan River is found here, a stream flowing easterly into a river . . . one authority says that it flows into the sea. In this there are many water-gems.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:20:27 pm
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/chapteroneappendixlink.gif)
“Three hundred li farther south, Bamboo Mountain is found, bordering on a river. . . . There is no grass, or trees, but there are many green-jasper and green-jade stones. The Kih River [water impeded in its course by rocks] is found here, a stream flowing into T’su-Tan [larger water of some sort]. In this place there is a great abundance of dye plants.” (13)Appendix 1

These are the descriptions of the last sections of a land traverse by Chinese explorers covering more than a dozen points of geographical interest along a generally north to south line. The Shan Hai King records three such traverses in this section and two others in subsequent books. Although the hand of an editor is obvious, the notes sound neither whimsical nor mythical. The account is not complete (or suffered in condensation), but it does give distances between major mountains and drainage patterns and notes on plants and animals and minerals. The notes are similar to notes explorers have taken, worldwide, since writing became common.

However incomplete the account, readers two thousand years later wondered where such land might be. Enough description exists to conform distance between prominent mountain peaks, direction of river flow, and occurrence of minerals, animals, and plants.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:24:21 pm






Many geographers and historians searched for routes in China or other parts of Asia which would fit the descriptions. Matching land forms were not found there. (14) But the Shan Hai King notes that the traverses are in a place beyond the eastern sea from China—and the routes do match mountains and rivers in parts of Canada, the western United States, Texas, and Mexico. In the section quoted above, the course appears to be along part of a line of peaks through Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Mountain peaks, wooded and desert areas, stretches of sand, and river directions fit the description.
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/2dwg_extx1Ev2.jpg)
The Davis Mountains, Jeff Davis County,
looking southwest.
Photograph by Two Dog Woman Graphics


Lone Mountain may be El Capitán or Guadalupe Peak, the latter the highest mountain in Texas near the present Texas-New Mexico border, with Delaware Creek draining east into the Pecos. About a hundred miles (three hundred li) south is Mount Livermore, or Baldy, as it is called even today, (15) and the animals here are surely peccary, with pearl-like tusks. Limpia Creek flows east. And there are enough beautiful “water gems”—agate and quartz—in the area to satisfy the description.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:30:20 pm
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/2dwg_extx1G.jpg)
The Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park,
view to the southwest. Emory Peak (7825') is
the highest point in the isolated mountains.
Photograph by Two Dog Woman Graphics.




About a hundred miles south and somewhat east is the Emory Peak area, part of the Big Bend, with a logical route down Terlingua Creek to the west. The Rio Grande, indeed impeded somewhat, here breaks out of the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon. Or, the explorers might have swung more to the west, ending up at the river after skirting the Chinati Mountains. (16) Along either route, a local dye plant in great abundance is the creosote bush.




(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/2dwg_extx1H.jpg)
The Chisos Mountains, view from Lost Mine Peak
toward Elephant Tusk. The Chisos are well known
for varied wildlife and plants, spectacular geology,
wonderful hiking and camping, and ghosts.
Photograph by Two Dog Woman Graphics.




These three sections of a route would hardly be called good evidence. Three locations, taken alone and only generally describing the landscape, would prove nothing. But the whole traverse from Wyoming to Texas—mentioning rivers, desert areas, wildlife, distances, minerals, and plants—is more convincing. And comparisons of the Chinese text with maps and field observations show that the five routes in the Shan Hai King fit more or less accurately on land in the western part of North America. (17) This would seem to be more than coincidence. At least the routes do not fit China or Western Asia, and there seems nowhere else to put them. (South America was even tried, with no success.) (18)


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:38:30 pm
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/chapteronemap.gif)






But this evidence really satisfies few people—and for good reason. For a statement to be “unquestionably” true, to be verified, there usually has to be supporting evidence of several kinds. Unlike the conquests of Caesar in Europe or the commercial contacts of the Polo family, there is almost no other evidence the Chinese were in western North America at a very early date. If Chinese did walk the land, they did not conquer.

A few small things have been noticed: American Indian legends mention the arrival of strangers long before Europeans; (19) certain prehistoric earth mounds in Mississippi are similar to some in China; (20) particular stone axes and blades seem much the same as some in China—indeed, one Chinese story relates how souvenir stone points were offered the emperor Yu. (21) North American and Shang artists alike depict animal forms as if the body were split with joined halves. (22) Central American legends speak of the gifts of language and agriculture being brought by travelers. (23) One cache of old Chinese coins was found by miners in British Columbia in 1882, but not under conditions that would guarantee it had been hidden at a pre-Columbian date. (24) This kind of data, however, can easily be coincidence or hoax. (25) Final decisions cannot be made on the basis of such things. (26)

Even a number of other documents telling the same story would add support, but no other records speaking of such a journey at this early date have yet been found.

Interestingly, one other Chinese document does seem to describe a much later visit to North America. It is an account told by a Buddhist priest on his appearance at a Chinese royal court about C.E. 500 from what he considered to be the far east. His name was Hwui Shan. (27) His voice comes from government records of only 1500 years ago:

“Fu Sang is twenty thousand li or more to the east of the Great Han Country, which is east of the Middle Kingdom [China]. The region has many Fu Sang trees, giving the country its name. The leaves of the Fu Sang resemble T’ung, and the first sprouts are like bamboo. The people of the country eat them and a fruit which is like a pear, but red in color."


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:41:52 pm




“They spin thread from the bark [of the Fu Sang] from which they make cloth. They make houses of planks, but have no walled cities. They have a written language and use the bark of the Fu Sang to make paper.”

Speaking here of peoples far to the east, Hwui Shan commented at length on the system of justice, the method a ruler follows in assuming power, the colors and style of the ruler’s clothing, ceremonial processions, social ranks in the land, and the presence of cattle (perhaps bison) and deer.

“The ground is destitute of iron, but it has copper. They do not value gold and silver and have no taxes in the markets.” (28) The priest went on to outline wedding customs and the manner of burial. He also noted carefully that the people of the land were ignorant of the Buddha’s way of life until about C.E. 458 when five priests voyaged to that country and tried to covert them.

Of great interest is that Hwui Shan, unlike some surveyors, provided some detail of the trip east.
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/74_1320sm.gif)
Added to the priest’s account in the court record is a story of certain unnamed man who a few years later (C.E. 507) were crossing the sea and were blown ashore in the unknown land. Their story confirms some of the priest’s comments. The women of the country to the far east resembled Chinese women, but their language could not be understood. Some men had human bodies but dog heads and dog voices. These people made round adobe houses, the doors of which resembled burrows.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:48:09 pm







Wild stories . . . but to judge the accounts, one must consider the history of the source document, the probability of such a journey, and another slice of Chinese history. How the priest’s story was written is particularly important because it explains why some of the descriptions of the land and peoples in China’s Far East are hard to understand or to believe.

The story of Hwui Shan was recorded in the Liang-shu, the Records of the Liang Dynasty, a part of the Nan-shih, or History of the South, compiled by Li Yen-shau who lived in the seventh century. The account was copied by Ma Twan-lin in his Antiquarian Researches, published in 1321. Both versions are copies of the earlier court records.

No one now knows Hwui Shan’s homeland. (29) He was known to have been a priest more or less crossing China, or to have been there only for a short time before his journey east. He may have come from present-day Afghanistan or Kashmir. His name is simply an epithet meaning “very intelligent,” similar to names taken by many another priest.

But by whatever name, the priest apparently made a successful return from a most interesting and almost unknown land far to the east. Yet, he had trouble telling his story. China was in disarray, embroiled in civil wars and split into northern and southern kingdoms. Ruling families and capital cities shifted like autumn leaves. Hwui Shan bided his time.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:52:27 pm








In C.E. 502 the Southern Ch’i Dynasty, with Chien-k’ang (Nanking) as its capital, was overthrown by Liang Wu Ti. He established the Liang Dynasty which for a short time was stable. The possibility appeared for Hwui Shan to present himself at court.


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/74_239bsm.gif)
 Reconstructed drawing of a
Chinese royal court, c. 831
Institute of Texan Cultures, 74-239


The choice of the southern capital for a reception was a good one, for both the priest and for the record which exists today. Emperor Wu Ti was not only a good ruler by the standards of the day but also a patron of Buddhism. Hwui Shan, who probably could speak little court Chinese, was nevertheless heard politely, and the court realized that his story was a most unusual one. In fifth century China a land to the far east was known mostly as a myth—a land where the sun was born and a proper subject matter for poets. The earlier Classic of Mountains and Seas could not be confirmed. But what the priest said rang true—or the court was just being polite.

When the priest related his story, a number of nobles were at court. One of them, Yu-kie, was asked by the emperor to question Hwui Shan further, translate when necessary, and write his story for the court records. Working together, certainly misunderstanding each other from time to time, Hwui Shan and Yu-kie produced a short narrative of the journey. (30) But the royal court of the day was, if anything, highly cultured, and Yu-kie could not resist writing a parallel version of his own, satiric and interspersed with humorous comments.

Literary scholars rather enjoy these two versions of the land of Fu Sang; earlier historians, however, were a bit uneasy with the second version because a humorous document is always an uncertain record. How can one decide when the author is being serious?


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:57:24 pm







But the versions are identifiable. Hwui Shan’s is matter-of-fact for the most part. Yu-kie’s version has the thread of Hwui Shan’s words, but the bulk of it is humorous burlesque on a basic story. But a basic story there is.

The story is that Hwui Shan and his companions traveled east from China about thirteen thousand miles and, from a coast, traveled inland. Within some three hundred fifty miles, they met “primitive” people along the way and saw others who had heads of dogs and lived in round adobe homes. Traveling on, they eventually reached a “relatively civilized” people having a written language, a type of paper, a government, buildings, and a culture somewhat like that of the natives of southern Mexico. Hwui Shan described the geography only generally but had much to record about the social organization of the people.

The court records do not mention whether Hwui Shan was working from his own notes or not. If the story is true, he was a man recalling something he had done years earlier.

What the emperor thought of the priest’s story is not known, but into the court records it went. The record attracted some later comment about the Far East, but the Chinese consistently had other things to worry about than a real continent across the ocean. More than a thousand years passed before anyone apparently wondered where Hwui Shan might really have been.

Western scholars made the first controversial comments about the story. In 1753 Phillippe Buache made the outrageous suggestion that Buddhist priests had established a colony on the west coast of America. (31) In 1761 Joseph de Guignes presented a paper to the French Royal Academy concerning Hwui Shan’s account. Not only did he give a translation of the priest’s words, but also de Guignes maintained that Fu Sang was Mexico and that the people described by Hwui Shan were the Indians of Mexico and the southwestern United States. For many years there was a scholarly silence. Then in 1831 Julius Klaproth, an eminent German scholar, attacked de Guignes’s view, and the fight was on. The contention quickly attracted other scholars—but only the few who were attracted to Chinese sources.

To this day, the argument has not been resolved. (32)


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 08:59:01 pm








The first disputes were personally bitter and poetically violent, in the style of academic contention that was to endure until the early 1900’s. Since those original arguments, only a few others have analyzed the account, argued over it, and tried to prove—or to disprove—that the land of Fu Sang was the present southwest United States and Mexico.


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/74_60sm.gif)
 The Chisos Mountains in the Big Bend, c. 1937
Institute of Texan Cultures, 74-60


Some of the story fits. The men with dog heads could be Native Americans. Wolf masks are still worn. Certainly the Indians look somewhat Chinese, although their language is different, as the priest noted. The multi-use Fu-Sang plant—source of fiber, thread, food, and drink—is possibly the maguey, a variety of the “century” plant. The red, pear-shaped fruit could be either early American corn, such as has been found in abandoned storage pits, or the tuna of the nopal—the fruit of the prickly pear cactus—still a common food.

The circular houses were common in the Mogollon culture of the southwestern United States about C.E. 350 and later. (33) The social customs match fairly well—or can be made to match—much that is known about pre-Aztec Indians of central Mexico and the southwestern Indians of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The journey itself—via the Aleutian current or along the coast—is a plausible one. (34) Even ships without crews can drift to the California coast, as evidenced by many a Japanese wreck, particularly in the favorable autumn winds. (35) What the priest describes along the way also matches the culture of some former Siberian and Alaskan peoples, as far as they are known today. And the geographical sites he mentions, including descriptions of places hard to miss, such as the La Brea tar pits of California, seem to fit.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 09:02:45 pm







Even the stranger comments—a kingdom of women, ladies taking serpents for husbands, and men speaking with the voices of dogs—can be explained, if one grants the literary customs of earlier Chinese. In the traditions of certain Southwestern Native Americans, matriarchal tendencies are obvious and women can wed serpents—at least in the understanding of outsiders. Male members of various Snake Clans consider themselves physically and spiritually one with snakes—in the understanding of outsiders. Hwui Shan would have had a hard time trying to explain that to Yu-kie. In addition, the Chinese were very fond of offering insults to the language and the physical aspects of foreigners. Language that sounded like the barking of dogs or men who looked like filthy devils are common epithets in some Chinese texts for even close neighbors. (36)

But again, the only evidence of the priest’s journey is an old document mentioning things that might be, although in the right place, coincidence.

Since the days of the start of the controversy—but rarely outside professional papers—a few authors have devoted themselves to establishing cultural links between pre-Spanish Mexico and the Orient. Similarities have been noted in art, religion, myth, architecture, and social institutions. It is said of some Mexican antiquities that had they not been found in the Americas, they would have been called colonial Chinese without question. (37) Some Chinese and Japanese images of the Buddha are so similar to Mexican jades that they could be interchanged; some carved wall designs are similar; earlier Spanish explorers at the west coast of California reported seeing strange trading ships; (38) there are resemblances in calendars, and one of the oldest New World pottery styles is virtually identical to early Japanese. (39)

Indeed, some researchers date the appearance of the bow and arrow in the American southwest to around C.E. 500—about the time such a weapon could have been brought by Hwui Shan or earlier Chinese explorers. This statement is regarded with a wide variety of responses by archaeologists. A few think it an interesting possibility; others consider the suggestion irresponsible and ignorant.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 09:05:40 pm








Most scholars view cultural, but widely separated, similarities with caution. The fact of similarity does not mean contact between peoples. Parallel but independent development of cultural traits is a possibility. (40) Even contact between peoples would not necessarily mean a colonial venture but perhaps only an exploration. (41) At the present state of knowledge, however, there are those who say that evidence in support of early cultural connections across the Pacific Ocean appears to be better than the evidence of strong cultural relations between the early peoples of the central valley of Mexico and Guatemala. (42)

A reader of such stories as Hwui Shan has to tell might also question whether a Buddhist priest of the fifth century would have had a motive for such a journey. Few Chinese seem to have had a motive, or the curiosity, but for a Buddhist priest the answer is almost certainly yes. (43)

It is particularly believable that Buddhist priests would have made such a trip. (44) Traveling Buddhist priests and scholars, such as the famous Fa-Hsien, traveled west, south, and north over all of Asia and into Africa and Europe as missionaries and pilgrims of the first major religion known to actively take its belief to others. (45) Buddhist priests were particularly active in the fifth and sixth centuries. (46) They even visited early Britain and the Roman Empire, leaving records that are not questioned—as long as the journey does not cross the Pacific Ocean. (47)


(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/74_234sm.gif)
Fa-Hsien regards a fallen companion
Institute of Texan Cultures, 74-234


Fa-Hsien, traveling in the fifth century, ranged from China across central Asia, came back into India from the west, took ship for Ceylon, traveled across the Indian Ocean, around Sumatra, across the China Sea, and back home. His was a stupendous journey, and his written accounts sound much like Hwui Shan’s. (48) This journey is believed in spite of Fa-Hsien’s notes about “evil spirits,” Buddha’s shadow left on a rock, and an invisible but white-eared dragon. Like Hwui Shan’s account, his journey is also a human story of hardship and faith. Unlike Hwui Shan’s, it is accepted as true. (49)


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 09:09:35 pm








One question might be: When an account from the year 500 is read that speaks of going the proper distance east from China to reach North America, and gives many details that could be true, why should it not be believed? (50)

There are reasons. Not only is verified secondary evidence lacking, but also, as far as archaeological or anthropological theory goes, many things—for some scholars—are at stake. Early contact between peoples of the Americas and the Old World is a subject highly charged with emotion even today, particularly where the transmission of inventions and beliefs might be involved. (51) Even the consideration of “insignificant” contact creates interest and argument.

And this is another way of asking: So what? Stories like these have an importance beyond simple curiosity. If it is ever proven that common human inventions, art forms, or beliefs were made independently in many areas of the world, this would support the innate creativity of humans and perhaps even the inevitability of human achievement. Independent development of things and ways of belief would mean human culture is not unique to any place in the world—or perhaps to human-like beings on other worlds. And it would mean that lost cultural accomplishments are probably regained.

If, on the other hand, major things are only invented once and thereafter passed on from person to person, human culture is apparently unique, even accidental—and susceptible to permanent loss. In this case, no one can count of cultural advances to regenerate if destroyed. (52)

At present, the stories of early Chinese explorers and wandering Buddhist priests have no unquestionably supporting facts outside of a few old documents and cultural observations which could be coincidence. This is evidence which by no means forms what is known as full verification or proof.

 
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/2dwg_extx1J.jpg)
Ruins remain in the trans-Pecos of Texas but, so far,
nothing that appears to have come from China.
Photograph by Two Dog Woman Graphics.

 
The most liberal opinion which attracts general support at present is that a boat or two may accidentally have been driven by storms over the Pacific in earlier centuries, but any contact was culturally insignificant. (53) In other words, no one has yet discovered the ruin of a fifth century Buddhist temple in Texas.

But these stories remain intriguing. And they remain. They are a long way from being forgotten, and their consideration can lead to a great flexibility in thinking. That’s a good thing to develop. Above all, the stories are illustrations of a basic concern: Just what is a fact? And that consideration—being able to intelligently form such a question—is perhaps more important than the “truth” of the stories.


 
©copyright 2000
The University of Texas
Institute of Texan Cultures
at San Antonio
801 South Bowie Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205-3296
(210) 458-2300


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 09:13:49 pm
                             (http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/bnrs/chapter2.jpg)



                                   (http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/c2i1sm.gif)






Statements in the humanities—fields of concern such as history and literary studies—are often unlike statements in the sciences. They are mostly specific and concrete, that is, unique and from in the past: “Chinese surveyors explored a part of West Texas about thirty centuries ago” or “in 1985, Rafaela Gonzales became the first known person to climb Guadalpue Peak” or “a majority of people in Hidalgo County speak Spanish as a first language.” Until somehow proven or verified, those statements cannot be accepted as fact.

In the sciences, important statements are often general and apply to many places and conditions and times—they are not unique. “Force is equal to mass times acceleration.” This is general and reproducible on demand. Like the humanities, science also deals with specific statements which can or can not be verified and are much more specific: “Four species of mistletoe grow in the Big Bend area” or “some three thousand years ago, the creeks of West Texas carried much more water than they do today..”

Any one of these statements must be verified or confirmed before it can be used as a statement of truth or fact. In general, and in the logic of the western world, a statement is verifiable if a test can be agreed on by which the statement could be falsified (whether stated in the affirmative or negative). Some scientists use the word “confirmation” when a statement is thus proven true. (1)


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 03, 2007, 06:39:54 am
                        (http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/77_56sm.gif)






Of course, agreeing on a test can be a problem. Some people might say “I know this to be true in my heart.” This may be but cannot be so proven. Others might say “If we see a stone that has been cut with the tool called the pilachavekia, then this proves Bolzenians lived here in 1372.” Many people might want to establish the causes and effects required by such a statement before admitting this was a good test.

And, of course, antiquity proves little. Few people would agree that a single document, unwitnessed and suspect, could be a self-test of its own statements. Thus, the Shan Hai King, whatever its antiquity, and because of its vagueness in spite of many commentators, proves little. Now, a reader could believe the book speaks truth, but unless others make this jump of faith, this belief comes to nothing.

Every kind of human knowledge, worldwide, has its set of rules for verification: chemistry, short-term investment, curanderismo, epistemology, carburetor adjustment, astrology, aromatherapy, mineralogy, history . . . Yet, some tests are remarkably different. Verification methods in psychology support certain practices of folk medicine more easily than applying the standards of modern chemistry. And the “scientific method”—the method of contemporary logic—demands that a test be agreed on by which a statement could be disproven. Otherwise, no rational discussion about its truth is possible.

In addition, new facts in the fabric of human knowledge cannot be contradictory to statements already tested. On occasion, of course, a new verification will tumble old knowledge completely. This usually happens when older knowledge is based on incomplete data.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 03, 2007, 06:43:40 am







A statement that cannot be tested might very well be true, but it remains a belief. And no belief system, no religion, will set up verification standards which can be tested outside its faith.

Most facts in history are statements about the past, however distant or recent. They are most often statements that have gone through many heads and hands and are often open to some question. Proof usually means that the evidence for a statement looks good and that most others agree the evidence is reliable, correctly interpreted, and sufficient.

Stepping around the words “reliable,” “correctly,” and “sufficient” for the moment, facts in the humanities are neither perfectly reproducible nor immediately observable. Some researchers have tried revelation and seances, but asking Huwu Shan if he were ever in Texas seems impossible. One might, however, ask most of the people living in Hidalgo County about their first language.
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/c2i2sm.gif)
When one looks at records such as interviews or diaries or recordings—when one asks others about what language they speak—the reply is primary data. So would a genuine letter written by Hwui Shan.

Primary data are sometimes considered to be the most accurate. An eyewitness or participant’s account of an event, written or recorded close in time to the event, seems reliable. Yet even a witness may have some bias that would cause an unconscious or conscious alteration in what “really” happened. In a genuine, primary letter, Hwui Shan could lie. Possible motives for bias need be considered by a historian. And one need always remember that a recollection of an event written fifty years later by a witness may not be as accurate as a memory written when the memory was fresh.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 03, 2007, 06:48:25 am







Secondary data are often considered to be more reliable if compiled some time after an event. The person speaking of the event was not a witness, not a participant, perhaps lived centuries afterward. Yet, secondary data can explain contradictions and can seem objective. It may be. But secondary data is usually loaded with interpretation. Suppose a person quotes Rafaela Gonzales’s dairy, which is verified to have been written by her in 1985. She says she climbed Guadalupe Peak that year, and no reason exists to disbelieve the statement. But the person quoting, the interpreter, claims this was the first time a person climbed the mountain. Disproving the interpretation is easy and starts with a suspicion: the date of 1985 is late for anyone “first” climbing a rather small “mountain” in a well-explored place like Texas. Next, earlier diaries can probably be found from the ranching families who lived there from the early 1880’s and the much earlier Spanish explorers. Anyway, there is a USGS survey marker very near the summit which bears a documented date much earlier than 1985. Also, a stainless steel pylon (about six feet high) was there long before 1985. Still there, it commemorates an early airline mail route. Somebody had to have put it there. All of these considerations are verification tests relying on commonly accepted logic.

The “suspicion” above is also more or less an interpretation. Something like: “Even if Chinese explorers were in West Texas a handful of thousands of years ago, they probably were not led by a woman.” This kind of interpretation is based on the fact that before the present day, very few women were explorers. They either were not allowed to be or were doing other things. And this is a form of negative evidence. An exception could exist.

Thus, statements of any kind, even “objective” observations, may be laced with interpretation. So can conclusions and inferences. Consider this interesting phenomenon the next time you and another driver and the policeman talk after a fender-bender.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 03, 2007, 06:49:43 am
(http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/publications/exploration/graphics/c2i3sm.gif)






Scientists prefer to deal with properly reported (reliable) primary data which is well-recorded (correct) and in enough quantity to seem to rule out the possibility of exception (sufficient). An astronomer, although unable to sit inside a star, can examine the very light that comes loaded with information. A historian cannot walk the plain of San Jacinto during the significant battle. Both must interpret data.

So, whatever data is verified, there still remains the task of significance, of interpretation. And this depends to some degree on the interpreter. Certainly, all the conclusions need to be consistent with verified fact and earlier, reliable interpretations. Or, even when the data seems good, maybe the historian feels for some reason that earlier interpretations were wrong.

For example: was the defense of the Alamo really all that important? Certainly so if one considers the pride and heroism that is evoked in some people when the story is intoned. Everyone needs things of pride, self, and group. On the one hand, the battle can be seen as absolutely significant, a heroic delaying tactic which allowed the Texan army to prepare for a decisive victory. The delay saved hundreds of settlers’ lives in the way of the Mexican Army.

On the other hand, it was collective and accidental stupidity. The main delay for the Mexican army was not the thirteen days, but the muddy rivers on the way into East Texas, and the inability to join forces with the southern army. Settlers to the east had short but ample time to learn which way to run from the fast-fleeing revolutionary government and the few groups of mounted rangers who acted as rear scouts. And, anyway, had San Jacinto proved a disaster for the Texans, United States forces were already ready to step in (as they did ten years later) and take Texas (and a lot more of North America) from Mexico. The military conclusion of the Alamo battle was not important at all.

Or maybe both. Some interpreters struggle hard to include every possibility in their conclusions.

In any case, many facts about the Alamo battle can be known, because military records and diaries confirm a lot (not all) of the events. The “outline” of what went on is known. What the events “mean”—their interpretation—is more open. Neither undisputed fact nor corroborating evidence exist for Hwui Shan’s story.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 03, 2007, 06:54:09 am







And whatever the data, it can be handled in different ways. A natural scientist tends to use the kind of logic called inductive. That is, a common part of the scientific method is to observe many instances of something happening a particular way—and if the something happens or is observed the same way each time, a scientist may assume with some degree of reliability that it will always happen that way. A predictive theory is so constructed. This is thinking proceeding from specific cases to a general statement, a hypothesis. This is one way of moving from evidence to proof.

Although all thinkers use induction to a great degree, the humanities tend to be deductive. They take a specific happening or statement, combine it with other facts derived from other happenings, and draw inferences or conclusions. (A majority of people in Hidalgo County speak Spanish; people in Hidalgo County who speak Spanish are of Mexican descent; therefore, the majority of people in Hidalgo County are of Mexican descent.) Deduction works well unless any part of the process is invalid or a statement is not true—as in the example above. Then, the whole construction turns out to be logically unsound, or false, even though the truth of the final conclusion may still be “true” if proven by other means.

The social sciences—sociology, psychology, much education these days—are in the middle of all of this. Some workers in these fields try to establish general, reproducible facts through experiments in the same manner as physicists.(2)

Of course, some statements are true because they are definitions: “A red traffic light means stop,” or “all bachelors are unmarried.” These statements are true by arbitrary definition. But everyone is aware that most of the statements of history are hardly definitions—they are questioned, changed, and reinterpreted in different centuries even when taken from the same data.


Title: Re: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!
Post by: Bianca on September 03, 2007, 06:55:31 am







Indeed, many of the accepted statements in the humanities are inferences (or even beliefs) but are documented well enough that most people do not question them—or they are statements so obvious to common knowledge that they are almost never questioned.

This range of experience makes some facts look nearly relative. This is not a failure of data or verification. Natural scientists are faced with somewhat the same situation. They realize that it is impossible to describe, absolutely and completely, some physical states. The historian knows that a single interpretation of even the best data may be impossible.

But this does not mean chaos for either physics or history. Enough can be known to describe a rational, dependable, predictable world for life as we know it. Definitions are easy. If one remembers the meaning of a red traffic light, one will probably not be flattened by a truck facing the green. Historic facts are not quite like definitions, of course. But if one has a knowledge of past happenings, current consensus, and story varieties; if one has a knowledge of one’s neighbors; and if one has a good view of what is in one’s own head—life will be understandable, not repetitious, less dangerous, and more interesting.

One should be able to make some sort of judgment of evidence and consider how “facts” are supported. History may not repeat itself totally in a useful or predictable way, yet people can get along in the world a lot better if they have a knowledge of facts in the humanities and can judge those facts. Without them, people can never even hope to understand their own age and themselves. Without knowing how to consider evidence, people can easily be fooled by fast talkers. Interpretation and judgment are questions of efficiency, and the importance is direct.

A person must consider and judge evidence—not just swallow statements—in order to live a productive and creative life.

Everyday life is the greatest of the humanities. Interpretation is difficult but important. “Those immigrants are taking our jobs,” “you can’t trust anyone with green skin,” “Hwui Shan walked across Texas,” “anyone can be a success.” Are these facts or interpretations of other data? Are these beliefs? Do they make any difference?

If they do make a difference, how can the evidence be judged?

The structure about the way one thinks of everyday questions is, happily, the same as deciding whether an explorer by the name of Hwui Shan walked through North America fifteen centuries ago. Whether he did or not might make no difference; the ability to examine such a statement can be the most important talent a person can have.



 
©copyright 2000
The University of Texas
Institute of Texan Cultures
at San Antonio
801 South Bowie Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205-3296
(210) 458-2300