Today in pseudoscience

A few years ago, a well-meaning person, who knew that I had an interest in archaeology, gave me a copy of a magazine called Ancient America.

The magazine carries articles that, needless to say, I havent seen in any scholarly journals.Heres a sample from their last issue.

Roman coins found along the Ohio River
Minoan pendent found in Ohio
Chinese treasure in California

My first thought wow ancient Mediterranean civs really had a thing going for Ohio!

Im not going to get into these claims except to say that I wouldnt put money on any of them standing up to scientific scrutiny.

But the thing that strikes me about these sorts of far-fetched ideas is how pervasive they are. A book, 1421, has appeared that makes the claim that the Chinese beat Columbus to North America.

The Canadian author Farley Mowat, a very well known writer, has also put out the idea that the Albans made a crossing into North America.

Yet, there is not a single Alban or Chinese artefact, of undisputable origin, found in the New World, which dates before Columbus.

Not a single one.

Also despite thousands and thousands of digs archaeologists have not foundany Roman coins in the New World that date before Columbus.

In fact there is a total ofexactly one possible Roman artefact, found in the New World, which may be of pre-Columbian origin.

That is the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head found in Mexico. An apparently Roman head found in a pre-Columbian layer in the pre-Hispanic settlement of Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca in central Mexico. Its possible that somebody planted it as a hoax or that it was brought in by an early Spanish settler and got mixed into this layer.

The head was found in 1933 and its excavator has long since died so its unlikely a definite answer will be found on whether its genuine.

Im not saying that we should close the book on the idea that someone from Europe, Chinaor the Middle East, (other than the Vikings) got to the New World before Columbus. But I am saying that an extraordinary claim like that requires evidence that can withstand scientific scrutiny.

And to date the only archaeological evidence, in the New World, of someone coming over from one of these areas, who are not Viking, is a head dug up in 1933. Thats a difficult position from which to launch a credible argument, much less a book or magazine.