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20th Century Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs in Literature, Art & History

Eyewitness Accounts

There Were Giants In The Earth in Those Days

Those Sophisticated "Cave Men"

Search for Noah's Ark

DNA, The Ultimate Oopart

The Bone Yards

Underwater Cities, Monuments?

Ancient Atomic Knowledge?

Salvation. What Must You Do To Be Saved?




Those Mysterious Olmecs.

A Pre-Hispanic Civilization in the Americas; from Whence Did They Come? Everybody's Claiming Them As Their Own?

3000+ Year Old Giant head found buried 20 ft. deep with the use of magnetic mapping. What was an Advanced, Black, or possibly Asian or East Indian)non-Egyptian, pre-Hispanic civilization doing in Mexico--in the America's prior to and more advanced than the Maya and the Aztecs?

No one knows for certain where they came from, where they went or how they moved those huge stone sculptures from distant quarries. Traditional archeology doesn't have the answers--but if you believe that man has always been advanced you can see where they may have come from.

“Readers of my books, and especially of The Lost Realms, as well as of a previous article on this website titled "The Case of the Missing Elephant," know by now that beginning with the discovery of a colossal stone head in 1869, an advanced civilization that preceded the Mayas and Aztecs of Mexico came to light.

Its leaders and bearers were unmistakably black Africans. They were arbitrarily named by archaeologists "Olmecs"; and their embarrassing enigma -- of who they were, and how they had come across the ocean, and why, was compounded by the timing of their arrival in the New World.

Once it was conceded (very grudgingly!) that the 'Olmecs' did indeed represent the earliest or even Mother Civilization of Mesoamerica, the date of their arrival was at first set at about 250 B.C.; then at about 500 B.C.; then farther back and back, until 1500 B.C. was acknowledged.

But I have argued for a date twice as old!” 3000 years is now accepted…..." Sitchin

In each of the three columns below, an author makes a convincing case that the Olmecs originated in; Africa, from the Hindu Culture and finally from China.


Black Civilizations of Ancient Americas (MUU-Lan) Mexico (Xi) Civilization

By Paul Barton

The earliest people in the Americas were people of the

Negritic African race, who entered the Americas perhaps as early as 100,000 years ago, by way of the Bering Straight and about thirty thousand years ago in a worldwide maritime undertaking that included journeys from the then wet and lake filled Sahara towards the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and from West Africa across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Americas.

According to the Gladwin Thesis, this ancient journey occurred, particularly about 75,000 years ago and included Black Pygmies, Black Negritic peoples and Black Australoids similar to the Aboriginal Black people of Australia and parts of Asia, including India.

Ancient African terracotta portraits 1000 B.C. to 500 B.C.

Recent discoveries in the field of linguistics and other methods have shown without a doubt, that the ancient Olmecs of Mexico, known as the Xi People, came originally from West Africa and were of the Mende African ethnic stock.

According to Clyde A. Winters and other writers (see Clyde A. Winters website), the Mende script was discovered on some of the ancient Olmec monuments of Mexico and were found to be identical to the very same script used by the Mende people of West Africa.

Although the carbon fourteen testing date for the presence of the Black Olmecs or Xi People is about 1500 B.C., journies to the Mexico and the Southern United States may have come from West Africa much earlier, particularly around five thousand years before Christ.

That conclusion is based on the finding of an African native cotton that was discovered in North America. It's only possible manner of arriving where it was found had to have been through human hands. At that period in West African history and even before, civilization was in full bloom in the Western Sahara in what is today Mauritania.

One of Africa's earliest civilizations, the Zingh Empire, existed and may have lived in what was a lake filled, wet and fertile Sahara, where ships criss-crossed from place to place.


The ancient kingdoms of West Africa which occupied the Coastal forest belt from Cameroon to Guinea had trading relationships with other Africans dating back to prehistoric times. However, by 1500 B.C., these ancient kingdoms not only traded along the Ivory Coast, but with the Phoenicians and other peoples.

They expanded their trade to the Americas, where the evidence for an ancient African presence is overwhelming. The kingdoms which came to be known by Arabs and Europeans during the Middle Ages were already well established when much of Western Europe was still inhabited by Celtic tribes. By the 5th Century B.C., the Phoenicians were running comercial ships to several West African kingdoms.

During that period, iron had been in use for about one thousand years and terracotta art was being produced at a great level of craftsmanship. Stone was also being carved with naturalistic perfection and later, bronze was being used to make various tools and instruments, as well as beautifully naturalistic works of art.

The ancient West African coastal and interior Kingdoms occupied an area that is now covered with dense vegetation but may have been cleared about three to four thousand years ago. This includes the regions from the coasts of West Africa to the South, all the way inland to the Sahara.

A number of large kingdoms and empires existed in that area. According to Blisshords Communications, one of the oldest empires and civilizions on earth existed just north of the coastal regions into what is today Mauritania. It was called the Zingh Empire and was highly advanced. In fact, they were the first to use the red, black and green African flag and to plant it throughout their territory all over Africa and the world.

The Zingh Empire existed about fifteen thousand years ago. The only other civilizations that may have been in existance at that period in history were the Ta-Seti civilization of what became Nubia-Kush and the mythical Atlantis civilization which may have existed out in the Atlantic, off the coast of West Africa about ten to fifteen thousand years ago.

That leaves the question as to whether there was a relationship between the prehistoric Zingh Empire of West Africa and the civilization of Atlantis, whether the Zingh Empire was actually Atlantis, or whether Atlantis if it existed was part of the Zingh empire. Was Atlantis, the highly technologically sophisticated civilization an extension of Black civilization in the Meso-America and other parts of the Americas?

Afro-Olmecs Came from the Mende Regions of West Africa

Although archeologists have used the name "Olmec," to refer to the Black builders of ancient Mexico's first civilizations, recent discoveries have proven that these Afro-Olmecs were West Africans of the Mende language and cultural group.

Inscriptions found on ancient monuments in parts of Mexico show that the script used by the ancient Olmecs was identical to that used by the ancient and modern Mende-speaking peoples of West Africa. Racially, the collosal stone heads are identical in features to West Africans and the language deciphered on Olmec monuments is identical to the Mende language of West Africa, (see Clyde A. Winters) on the internet.

The term "Olmec" was first used by archeologists since the giant stone heads with the features of West African Negritic people were found in a part of Mexico with an abundance of rubber trees. The Maya word for rubber was "olli, and so the name "Olmec," was used to label the Africoid Negritic people represented in the faces of the stone heads and found on hundreds of terracotta figurines throughout the region.

Yet, due to the scientific work done by deciphers and linguists, it has been found out that the ancient Blacks of Mexico know as Olmecs, called themselves the Xi People (She People).

Apart from the giant stone heads of basalt, hundreds of terracotta figurines and heads of people of Negritic African racial reatures have also been found over the past hundred years in Mexico and other parts of Meso-America as well as the ancient Black-owned lands of the Southern U.S.

(Washitaw Proper,(Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas), South America's Saint Agustin Culture in the nation of Colombia, Costa Rica, and other areas) the "Louisiana Purchase," lands, the south-eastern kingdom of the Black Jamassee, and other places including Haiti, see the magazine Ancient American).

Various cultural clues and traces unique to Africa as well as the living descendants of prehistoric and ancient African migrants to the Americas continue to exist to this very day. The Washitaw Nation of Louisiana is one such group (see, the Garifuna or Black Caribs of the Caribbean and Central America is another, the descendants of the Jamasse who live in Georgia and the surrounding states is another group.

There are also others such as the Black Californian of Queen Calafia fame (the Black Amazon Queen mentioned in the book Journey to Esplandian, by Ordonez de Montalvo during the mid 1500's).

Cultural artefacts which connect the ancient Blacks of the Americas with Africa are many. Some of these similarities can be seen in the stone and terracotta works of the ancient Blacks of the Americas. For example, the African hairline is clearly visible in some stone and terracotta works, including the use of cornrows, afro hair style, flat "mohawk" style similar to the type used in Africa, dreadlocks, braided hair and even plain kinky hair.

The African hairline is clearly visible on a fine stone head from Veracruz Mexico, carved between 600 B.C. to 400 B.C., the Classic Period of Olmec civilization. That particular statuette is about twelve inches tall and the distance from the head to the chin is about 17 centemeters.

Another head of about 12 inches, not only posesses Negroid features, but the hair design is authentically West African and is on display at the National Museum of Mexico. This terracotta Africoid head also wears the common disk type ear plugs common in parts of Africa even today among tribes such as the Dinka and Shilluk.

One of the most impressive pieces of evidence which show a direct link between the Black Olmec or Xi People of Mexico and West Africans is the presence of scarification marks on some Olmec terracotta sculpture. These scarification marks clearly indicate a West African Mandinka (Mende) presence in prehistoric and ancient Meso-America.

Ritual scarification is still practiced in parts of Africa and among the Black peoples of the South Pacific, however the Olmec scarification marks are not of South Pacific or Melanesian Black origins, since the patterns used on ancient Olmec sculpture is still common in parts of Africa.

This style of scarification tatooing is still used by the Nuba and other Sudanese African people. In fact, the face of a young girl with keloid scarification on here face is identical to the very same keloid tatoos on the face of an ancient Olmec terracotta head from ancient Mexico.

Similar keloid tattoos also appear on the arms of some Sudanese and are identical to similar keloid scars on the arms of some clay figures from ancient Olmec terracotta figurines of Negroid peoples of ancient Mexico.

Although West Africa is not commonly known for having a culture of pyramid-building, such a culture existed although pyramids were created for the burial of kings and were made of hardened brick. This style of pyramid building was closer to what was built by the Olmecs in Mexico when the first Olmec pyramids were built. In fact, they were not built of stone, but of hardened clay and compact earth.

Still, even though we don't see pyramids of stone rising above the ground in West Africa, similar to those of Egypt, Nubia or Mexico, or massive abilisks, collosal monuments and structures of Nubian and Khemitic or Meso-American civilization.

The fact remains, they did exist in West Africa on a smaller scale and were transported to the Americas, where conditions such as an environment more hospitable to building and free of detriments such as malaria and the tsetse fly, made it much easier to build on a grander scale.

Meso-American pyramid with stepped appearance, built about 2500 years ago

Large scale building projects such as monument and pyramid building was most likely carried to the Americas by the same West Africans who developed the Olmec or Xi civilization in Mexico.

Such activities would have occurred particularly if there was not much of a hinderance and obstacle to massive, monumental building and construction as there was in the forest and malaria zones of West Africa.

Yet, when the region of ancient Ghana and Mauritania is closely examined, evidence of large prehistoric towns such as Kukia and others as well as various monuments to a great civilization existed and continue to exist at a smaller level than Egypt and Nubia, but significant enough to show a direct connection with Mexico's Olmec civilization.

The similarities between Olmec and West African civilization includes racial, religious and pyramid bilding similarities, as well as the similarities in their alphabets and scripts as well as both cultures speaking the identical Mende language, which was once widespread in the Sahara and was spread as far East as Dravidian India in prehistoric times as well as the South Pacific.








By Gene D. Matlock

There's an old saying: "Everybody loves a mystery." Unfortunately, the rapid development of computers, which is uniting all the world and its acquired knowledge in one vast network, is making mysteries scarcer than hens' teeth.

Mutual similarities between many languages and cultures in various parts of the world are becoming more and more apparent.

During the 17th century, the famous orientalist Edward Pococke noticed a disturbing similarity between classical Greek and Sanskrit. In his book, India in Greece, he showed that nearly all the place and tribal names of the Greeks had their similar correspondences in Northern India, especially in Afghanistan.

The 18th century English scholar, William Jones, discovered the similarity of Sanskrit with many European languages, including Greek and Latin. Godfrey Higgins also supported their views in his two volume work, Anacalypsis.

They and other distinguished linguists of the time concluded that non-Africanoid mankind probably originated in India, the Near East, and Siberia. These 17th and 18th century scholars were able to show that place, tribal, and religious names tended to stay the same, no matter how far certain ancient tribes dispersed themselves in different parts of the earth.

In the 1900s, Mexican scholars noted that the Nahuatl language is derived from Sanskrit. Even the word Nahua derives from the Sanskrit word for "sailor:" Nava or Navaja. Like their brother Allemans in Germany, the Olmecs could pronounce "V" only as "W."

Later on in the 20th century, in keeping with rising ethnocentrism in the world, many biased scholars tried to discredit the 17th and 18th century pioneers in linguistics, saying that words in one language, sounding alike and having similar meanings in other languages, did not prove that these languages were related. They

created a pseudoscience called "Historical Linguistics." For nearly all the last half of the 20th century, these historical linguists held sway over the minds of historians and archeologists, much to the delight of those "noble savages" wanting to think of their respective ethnicities and cultures as "original." Non-diffusionism was in.

Diffusionism was out. Diffusionists were labeled as racially biased for wanting to discredit the "noble savages." But not all the "noble savages" sided with the non-diffusionists; they began to feel left out of the human race.

Some began to ask, "Did I evolve from a species of ape completely different from the bonomo chimp from whom the rest of mankind descends?" [sic] The suspicion that they might somehow not have a common origin with other humans drove many of them to drink and perdition.

Thanks to the increasing cultural compression of the world, archeologists and linguists are concluding that men like Edward Pococke, William Jones, and Godfrey Higgins were right after all. The historical linguists and non-diffusionist archeologists are beginning to retire or change professions.

The Olmecs - Proof of Diffusion?

A favorite superstition of non-diffusionists and historical linguists is the mystery of the origin of the Olmecs. They appear not to notice the nearly exact similarities between the ancient peoples of Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Rajasthan, etc., a part of India called Sivapuri, and the Meso-American Olmecs.

I cannot understand or empathize with this type of non-awareness. In ancient Northern India, a religio-political savant was known as Ma-gul, Mo-gul or Ul-mag, which meant "The Great God Ul." The syllables were interchangeable.

They were also called Eu-lama or Eu-rama (Aram), according to the different tribes' ability to pronounce "R" and "L." Eu = "Great." Rama/Lama = "Priest." Even today, among the Moslems, an Ulama or Ulema is a religious scholar and leader. There was even an ancient Near Eastern nation named Elam.

These distinguished priest scholars were additionally called Ul-man, Olman, or Ul-manu. meaning "Deified Sovereigns of the Earth."

When the non-Africanoid races of mankind left India for other parts of the world, the Ul-mags continued to call themselves Alleman (Germans), Aramean or Aramaic, and Olman, Ulmak or Olmek, in ancient Mexico.

It is significant to note that the Phoenician sailor-traders had many names, one of which was Aram (Aramean). The Huichol Indians of Nayarit, Mexico call the port of San Blas Aramara, named after the India-Indian port they left on their voyage to America. Could this account for the name of the Nahuas?

The bible mentions that Solomon imported Almug trees from Sophir which was part of the northwestern coast of India: Sauvira. Scholars tell us that the Almug was really the Sandalwood tree.

I'm not disputing that, but I am wondering why the Olmecs called the rubber tree Ulama(k). Just as the India-Indian Almug tree was held to be extremely sacred among the ancient Hindus, so also did the Olmecs revere the sacredness of the Ulama(k) tree.

A Sanskrit name for a particularly viscous sap is Urj. The Olmecs called the sap of their Ulama(k) tree Olli/Ulli. Olli was regarded as a sacred substance of life, like blood. Often, Olli sounded like Ollin because the Nahua-speaking people tended to nasalize the last syllable. As I have stated, the Olmecs probably could pronounce "R" only as "L."

The double "LL" in Spanish is regarded as a separate letter, sounding like Elye or Eljeh, according to the dialect being spoken. For instance, the Argentinians pronounce "Y" plus a vowel, as "J." For that reason, what the ancient Ul-mags or Mo-guls of Afghanistan called Urj, the Olmecs pronounced as Olji/Ulji.

Ulama - the ball game of life and death

The Olmecs played a type of sacred ball game, the name of which was the same as their sacred tree: Ulama. This holy ball game was played by all the Indians of the American Southwest, as far as the northern borders of South America itself.

For this and other reasons, I have long thought that the Olmecs were among the original settlers of the American Southwest, where they became known as the Hohokams and O'odhams, as I so state in my book, From Khyber (Kheeber) Pass to Gran Quivira (Kheevira), NM and Baboquivari, AZ -- When India Ruled the World!

Ulama was known as "The Game of Life and Death." It was played in ceremonies symbolizing the creation of the world and the struggle for supremacy between the forces of good and evil; day and night; life and death.

The game was so sacred that losers were decapitated. The ruins one of the ancient Southwestern Hohokam ball courts can be seen at the archeological site near Casa Grande, Arizona. The Hohokam civilization, as well as its buildings, was truly splendid, with great mud-packed buildings several stories high, manmade lagoons, canals, and fields of corn, bean, squash, and chiles.

However, its buildings long ago melted back into the earth; its lakes and canals became buried in desert sand. Archeologists in Arizona tell me that Hohokam ruins can be found throughout Southern Arizona, but they usually bury them again after they have been excavated and examined.

Noting that Ulama was not just an ordinary game, the Spaniards prohibited it after the Conquista. However, the Spanish fathers in Central and Northern Mexico, as well as those in Southwestern United States, allowed it to exist as a secular sport.

Gradually, the game died in popularity, but it is still the favorite game of many Indians and mestizo villagers in Central and Northern Mexico. Tourists traveling in Mexico often see this game being played in villages near Mazatlan, such as Escuinapa.

Ulama is presently increasing in popularity, promising to again become one of Mexico's favorite national sports.

More Evidence of Asian - American Contact:

Ancient Pyramids Discovered in Uzbekistan

A joint expedition of Russian and Uzbek archaeologists has discovered several ancient pyramids in Uzbekistan. According to the scientists, these 15-metre high constructions may be at least 2,700 years old.

The ancient pyramids were discovered in a remote mountains area, in the Kashkadaryin and Samarkand regions in the south of the country, according to the BBC quoting from Pravda. Archaelogists state that the discovered pyramids are similar to the ones of Giza, Egypt, but in contrast to them, Uzbek pyramids have a flat surface, resembling those found in Central America.

According to the experts, thanks to their remoteness, the pyramids were not taken to pieces to serve as building material in later epochs. According to archaeoligists, if the constructions are really pyramids, this is a very important discovery, since nothing of the kind has been found in this area before.

Now, the task of the scientists is to establish a chronology and examine known local cultures, to ascertain the purpose of these constructions, tombs, temples, or something else. (Pravda, June 19, 2002.)

The Walls of ancient Khiva [pictured above], Uzbukistan, one of the oldest living cities on earth. Like the buildings of the Southwestern American Indians, Khiva's walls and buildings are made of packed mud and adobe, even having the appearance of some types of Southwestern Puebloan architecture.

I have much more evidence that the Olmecs were from Sivapuri. It would be good if the non-diffusionists and historical linguists could show me where I have gone wrong!




A Link Between Chinese and American Cultures? The Olmec and the Shang

The continent of Asia at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean and the Americas at the ocean's eastern edge lie 15,000 kilometers apart. Today, a US-resident Chinese scholar believes he has found evidence in ancient writing that 3000 years ago, a lost people of the Shang Dynasty went to Columbus's "New" World. . . .

Flying east from Mexico City over countless volcanic peaks, in slightly less than an hour we reach Villahermosa ("The Beautiful City") by the Gulf of Mexico. As we disembark we are met by a rush of humid air which reminds us of the steamy heat of Taiwan's high summer.

The Adventure of an Ancient Civilization

In the open-air museum of Parque La Venta, gigantic trees tower into the sky everywhere. As soon as we go in through the gate, in a sandy enclosure we see several monkeys hanging playfully from exercise bars, for this tropical park doubles as a miniature zoo. It is also one of the places where Mexico's earliest civilization, the Olmec, once flourished.

Following the markers on the ground into the jungle, we embark on the adventure of exploring an ancient civilization. In the midst of the greenery, a stone monument carved with human figures rises out of the ground.

A stone altar is decorated with the figure of a priest, sitting cross-legged and wearing an ornate headdress; his head stands out in sharp relief. But what is the most astonishing of all is surely the several colossal human heads carved out of granite, each of them around two meters high and weighing up to twenty tons.

The heads are adorned with helmets and all have narrow eyes, broad noses, thick lips and deep, solemn brows. It is a Sunday, so the park is full of people, with whole families, young and old, out together. In the park we see many Caucasian sightseers, but we black-haired, yellow-skinned visitors from Taiwan seem to attract more attention.

Adults nod and smile to us visitors from afar, while children steal inquisitive glances with their bright, black eyes. When we ask to take their pictures among the enormous stone heads, they agree joyfully yet shyly.

Amid the lush green vegetation, the millennia-old relics seem to have become part of nature. But did the meeting between the black-haired, yellow-skinned peoples of Asia and the Americas only begin today?

US-resident scholar Mike Xu (far left), whose ideas sparked off a heated debate, discusses possible links between Chinese and American cultures with a group of researchers.

Explosive Evidence

Last year, in a book entitled Origin of the Olmec Civilization, Professor Mike Xu, a Chinese who teaches in the foreign languages department at the University of Central Oklahoma, proposed a hypothesis which aroused a storm of controversy in archeological circles.

In Xu's view, the first complex culture in Mesoamerica may have come into existence with the help of a group of Chinese who fled across the seas as refugees at the end of the Shang dynasty. The Olmec civilization arose around 1200 BC, which coincides with the time when King Wu of Zhou attacked and defeated King Zhou, the last Shang ruler, bringing his dynasty to a close.

Furthermore, Xu had "explosive" evidence in the form of the written word. Over the past three years he has found some 150 glyphs on photographs of and real specimens of Olmec pottery, jade artifacts and sculptures. As well as himself leafing through dictionaries of ancient Chinese, he has also taken his drawings of these markings to be examined by mainland Chinese experts in ancient writing, and most have agreed that they closely resemble the characters used in Chinese oracle bone writings and bronze inscriptions.

"At first these experts all tried to send me away, saying they could not give an opinion on foreign artifacts," Mike Xu recalls. But after his repeated entreaties, they reluctantly took a look.

The moment they saw his drawings, each of them asked him: "Where in China were these inscriptions found?" When they heard they came from America they were all dumbstruck.

"If these inscriptions had been found in excavations in China," says Chen Hanping, a research associate at the m ainland's Historical Research Institute, "they would certainly be regarded as writing or symbols from the pre-Qin-dynasty period."

Six jade "celts" which make up part of Offering No. 4, excavated at La Venta, are incised with symbols which resemble hieroglyphic writing. Could this be the earliest known writing in the New World? And could it be related to the Chinese oracle bone script which existed at about the same time?

Ritual Objects of Shang Refugees?

A subsequent event further boosted Mike Xu's confidence. From June to October last year, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC staged a major exhibition on the Olmec civilization, with items loaned from Mexico.

Mike Xu and Chen Hanping visited the exhibition together. Inside, they both stopped in front a group of jade statues.

This exhibit, known as Offering No. 4, was found at La Venta in 1955, and comprises 15 human figures about six inches tall, carved from jade or serpentine, and arranged in a half-circle facing a figure carved from red sandstone.

Behind the red figure are six jade "celts" (polished, chisel-shaped implements), on which incised symbols or writing are faintly discernible.

"Oh, I can see what's written on that one," Chen Hanping called out in surprise.

"It says: 'The ruler and his chieftains establish the foundation for a kingdom.'" On another of the celts they could faintly make out "12 generations." Could this refer to the 12 Shang kings who ruled from the time when Pan Geng moved his capital from Shandong to Yin in He'nan, to when the Shang was destroyed by the Zhou? Might these really be ritual objects of a lost group of Shang people who had fled to the New World?

An Academic Minefield

After the exhibition was over, in early November last year the weekly magazine US News and World Report published an article entitled "A Tale of Two Cultures," which quoted Chen and Xu's hypothesis and discussed Offering No. 4.

If Chen's theories proved right, the article said, this would not only be the earliest known writing in the New World, but would also mean that people from China settled there 3000 years ago. When the article was published, it immediately aroused a large response, with opinions ranging from support to outright rejection.

For instance, on an Internet forum devoted to discussion of Mesoamerican archeology, this topic elicited over 300 e- mail messages in the short space of two months. The passionate debate continued until early this year when the web site owner ruled that it should be continued in private.

Most of the opposing voices, on- and off-line, came from leading figures in current Mesoamerican research, who tended towards "nativist" or "independent invention" views.

They maintained that the artifacts were the product of the American peoples' own ingenuity, and did not need outside intervention to explain them. For instance, Professor Michael Coe of the anthropology department at Yale University took the view that to link the marks on the jade celts with Chinese oracle bone writings was "insulting to the indigenous people of Mexico."

Robert Bagley of Princeton University, an associate professor of Chinese archeology and art and an expert on Shang civilization, said that all the people proposing such a connection were themselves Chinese, and that "it no doubt gratifies their ethnic pride to discover that Mesoamerican civilization springs from China." Hence people in this camp labelled Mike Xu "the most dangerous person in Mesoamerican research."

Mix and Match

As long ago as the 1920s and 30s, several scholars pointed out numerous points of similarity between the cultures of China's Shang and Zhou dynasties and those of Mesoamerica. For instance, the structure of the temples on top of Maya pyramids can be compared with that of Chinese ancestral temples, and the feathered serpent spirit worshipped in Mesoamerica is similar to the various human-headed, snake-bodied spirits such as Fu Xi and Nu Wa which were known to the early Chinese.

Even more striking is the traditional love of jade shared by peoples on both sides of the Pacific, and practices such as placing a jade bead or jade cicada in the mouth of the dead, or even painting jade corpse-amulets with the life-giving color of cinnabar.

As early as the 1970s, US researcher Betty Meggers pointed out close similarities between the social organization of the Olmec and the late Shang, and in the layout of their settlements. Both also had far-reaching trading networks, and both venerated jade and the tiger or jaguar.

British sinologist Joseph Needham once wrote that any sinologist visiting Central or South America would have a sense of deja vu. He said that although "nothing can in any way diminish the profound originality of the Amerindian civilizations," ". . . there is a multitude of culture traits which point to influences from, and contacts with, the Old World."

In China, some people have also inferred from ancient records that the Chinese discovered America. For instance, the Liang Shu (History of the Liang) from the 7th century AD mentions that in the Southern Dynasties period a monk named Huishen crossed the ocean and discovered a land named "Fusang," which Liang Qichao (1873-1929) believed to be today's Mexico.

Others have tried to match the places described in the legends of the Shan Hai Jing (Classic of Mountains and Seas) with individual locations in the Americas. It has also been claimed that from Olmec statues it appears that they had the custom of manipulating children's skull bones into a more pointed shape, which was a practice also seen among tribes in northeastern China.

One of Their Own

35-year-old Mike Xu, who was born in Shanghai and now teaches Chinese language and philosophy at an American university, is neither an archeologist nor a historian. How did he get involved in this field?

There are both direct and indirect reasons. Four years ago, when Xu went to visit a large Indian fair in Oklahoma City, the Native American at the entrance took Xu for one of his own people and waved him in for free. This set Xu wondering whether he really did look like a Native American, and whether there were any cultural links too.

When he was teaching Pacific Rim Studies at the university, students would sometimes ask him about connections between the Americas and China. He never knew how to answer these questions, but they gradually aroused his interest in researching such matters.

Also, his father is a neurological researcher who is very interested in the links between human DNA on the Asian and American continents. Thus when Xu began doing research outside his own field, perhaps there was an element of following in his father's footsteps.

As well as looking for links between writing systems of the Olmec and the Shang, Xu also looked for similarities in such areas as religion, agriculture, astronomy and calendar systems.

In his view, both peoples venerated their ancestors, practiced human sacrifice and worshipped the sun and rain spirits. Furthermore, the Olmec worshipped the cougar, the eagle and the snake, while the Chinese regarded the tiger as a symbol of strength, the people of the Shang used birds as clan totems, and wasn't the dragon, which Chinese people venerate, also derived from the snake?

In terms of astronomy, the settlements excavated at La Venta are arranged facing eight degrees west of north, while Shang sites face five degrees east of north. What is remarkable about that?

In one of his articles Mike Xu writes that the "eight degrees" and "five degrees" are actually with reference to the magnetic north indicated by compasses, and not the true north pole. Thus both actually face true north. He believes that for both peoples to have known how to determine true north as long ago as 1200 BC is no coincidence.

The time of the rise of the Olmec civilization coincides with the fall of the Shang dynasty, and there are a number of similarities between the two cultures.

On this basis, Xu boldly infers that some 5000 people of Shang sailed across the Pacific on bamboo rafts and landed in western Mexico; later, they gradually spread to the central highlands and the Gulf Coast, and built up a civilization of art, religion, architecture, agriculture and trade. Xu has even written a historical drama, Fallen Grace, which describes how the lost people of Shang may have crossed the sea.