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April 18, 2006

American Genesis

Jeffrey Goodman, Ph.D. ISBN – 0425051730

It's time to review an old book again; one which might well interest you. This one is no longer in print, but can be found online for a dollar or two.

It is a seminal treatise, both concise and comprehensive in that Goodman discusses the subject in lay terms, with brevity and interest, without encumbering the dialog with myriad and confusing details.

His hypothesis, as well documented as possible, is that Homo sapiens sapiens actually evolved in the Americas—probably California—and spread around the globe from there. Further, he indicates that our species is much older than is generally supposed, and supports this conclusion by itemizing “digs” in the Americas which have been documented to be 40,000 to 150,000 years old, with some considered to be 250,000 years, and suspect of being as much as 500,000 years in age. All of which suggests that we may be over 1,000,000 years old as a species, not the 100,000 years or less which is commonly supposed. And we didn’t come from Africa. That seems certain.

This is breathtaking in light of the fact that man is “widely known” to have evolved in Africa and came here across the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago. He is bemused by how unrelenting the “experts” are in denying that man might have moved the other way across the Bering Strait. Apparently it was the world’s first one way street! It reminds of the now defeated argument that no European came to the Americas before Columbus . . . N(body)B(efore)C(olumbus) as the acronym reads. Now, of course, we know that Norsemen were here, and there is strong belief that others came in earlier times. But that’s another story.

His arguments are solid, and the “establishment” is reluctantly coming to agree that just maybe the old conclusions are wrong.

Most interesting is the datum offered that Cro-Magnon had very exquisite and distinctive flint points and other tools when they appeared suddenly, from nowhere, in Spain at the end of the last ice age. “No one knows from whence they came.” That’s gospel. Strange that points and tools have been found in the American Southwest which are identical to those of Cro-Magnon, and 35-70,000 years older. As well, Cro-Magnon skeletons look a lot like modern day Southwestern Indians!

Another fascinating discussion is Hopi Indian legend involving their three past worlds, destroyed first by fire (volcanos), they by ice (glaciers) and finally by water (flooding); strangely consistent with what now appears to be worth serious consideration. The scenario is, however, geologically impossible if their civilization is not at least 250,000 years old. Their legend also states that they came from afar, from a land in the Pacific which is now submerged. Huh?

The most interesting discussions by far deal with the domestication of animals, the development of agriculture, and their advanced medical skills. Much derided until recently, the Amerinds now appear clearly to have been grinding grain (which one presumes they cultivated) at least 100,000 years ago, hybridized maize (corn) so long ago that no natural related plant now exists, freeze dried vegetables tens of thousands of years before this was done in Eurasia, rode horses before they became extinct in the Americas (10,000 years ago,) and practiced holistic medicine which included antibiotics for infections, digitalis for heart disease, quinine for malaria, Vitamin C for scurvy, aspirin for pain, cocaine for hypesthesia, splinted fractures, performed trephination, removed cataracts, and even practiced psychiatry, after a fashion, by recognizing and treating psychosomatic illnesses.

I found especially remarkable the fact that they had hybridized amaranth, and grew it in sufficient quantities to feed hundreds of thousands of people before the Spanish made them quit. Recently we have rediscovered this cereal grain and it offers the possibility of resolving malnutrition worldwide. It is hardy, drought resistant, grows nearly everywhere, and has just about all of the things humans need to stay healthy. It is especially interesting to me because Indians in the South American rainforests are only recently known to have developed elevated farm plots in these miserable soils. They are not yet understood, but they involved "charcoaling" certain plants with fire, which, when mixed with the soils, retains nutrients for a century. These vast acreages also supported millions of people where only a few now eke out an existence--because it is a forgotten technology.

Apparently when the Conquistadors discovered these Amerinds, they annihilated them with battle, disease, etc., and their technological mastery disappeared with them. We are just about to learn how millions of “savages” worked out a survival plan for jungle life . . . perhaps tens of thousands of year ago!

Read the book . . . it is brief, captivating, informative, and well worth the time.

Posted by respeto at April 18, 2006 3:00 PM