Druids in Vermont? Phoenicians in Iowa? These are just a few of the interesting bits of information contained in this volume of American pre-history. This groundbreaking work shatters many of the myths of America centuries ago.
This book was not unlike many others before and since which suggest Precolumbian transoceanic contact. The thing that sets it apart is the fact that Barry Fell had a mastery of ancient languages and epigraphy that may never have been bettered. His legacy will endure long after those who slandered and libeled him are classified alongside those ninnies who claim the Moon landings were hoaxed.
A few corrections to some misconceptions, some of which are found in other reviews of this title:
The Mystery Hill megalithic structures in Vermont were NOT built by colonial farmers. A colonial era family did once live on the site, but the major structures already existed when those folks arrived. The serious study of the site began years ago, and has entered the hallowed halls of academia. The site was constructed thousands of years ago, long before the freakin' Pilgrims. There's a nice website, the URL for which I'd include, but that's not permitted in reviews. Anyone who has visited the Mystery Hill site (now billed as "America's Stonehenge") would be able to see how foolish and simpleminded it was to suggest a colonial origin -- the entire hilltop is covered by rows of stones laid out not as orderly pastures or pens, but in a way that is not unlike Glastonbury tor and other mazelike "Old World" sites.
The Vikings did reach the Americas. There's an unequivocally Viking site on Newfoundland that has been known and excavated for over 30 years. Even before that was identified, the Newport Round Tower was shown to be Viking in origin, although there remains plenty of denial of this fact. Verazzano saw the tower, and sent a landing party ashore to investigate the area, during his mapping expedition which took place long before the first governor of Rhode Island was born, making it difficult for the latter character to have built the Tower. An excavation to prove a colonial origin did take place, but not surprisingly the conclusions fit the original assumptions.
The Americas have a large number of existing foreign inscriptions predating Columbus, and other well documented examples formerly existed but have been destroyed by development, vandalism, and the march of time. There are those who deny the existence of these, but such folks have no credibility. Fell didn't go beyond his data, in fact he spent quite a lot of time examining and exposing as hoaxes a number of supposed ancient inscriptions.
Another foolish idea is that a ship could have been wrecked, and seeds, artifacts, and other traces of human activity could float across the Atlantic or Pacific, without a crew, and recovered on the shore by Native Americans. But a fully crewed ship could not have crossed. This is despite the fact that such claims originate with landlubbers, and wrecked ships go right to the bottom.
Contrary to what "Please don't believe this book" wrote August 29, 1999, Barry Fell didn't "claim that scientists are just trying to cover up the truth". This is just the most childish slander that I've seen in these reviews. The bias against any contact before Columbus arose late in the 19th century and by the early decades of the 20th century was a religion. When the first Clovis artifacts were found, the dating was attacked because the religion said that no one had lived in the Americas prior to about 1000 BC. After Clovis prevailed, the religion became "Clovis First and Only". Tom Dillehay has spent about twenty years being ridiculed and attacked for finding that PreClovis site in South America, far from the supposed landbridge ingress of all the ancestors of Native Americans. Although there are some trying to dig in their heels and defend CFAO, it is essentially dead.
One has to wonder why the irrational devotion to such a ridiculous idea as isolation has endured regarding human occupation of the Americas, Japan, and Australia, among other places. In the case of the Americas, PreColumbian contact would mean that various claims on the land were not the first. As ridiculous as that seems, if a Roman wreck were identified, say, off the coast of Brazil, that could mean that Italy has a claim that supercedes that of Portugal. Such an event has occurred, and the underwater archaeologist trying to study it was kicked off the site by the Brazilian government.
Barry Fell's work, particularly that found in ESOP, was and remains revolutionary. The Epigraphic Society has a website, and James Trimm maintains a mail list on epigraphy with an interest in ancient navigators.
In 1978 Barry Fell published translations of Etruscan, showing that it belonged to the Anatolian group of languages, including Minoan which is expressed in Linear A. Likewise, he noted the elements of the much later Petrachian sonnet in a surviving pre-Roman Etruscan inscription. That the internal architecture of some Etruscan tombs is identical with Minoan tombs which were made by a culture supposedly long gone nearly a thousand years earlier was pointed out by another heretical scholar, Hans Wunderlich, in his "The Secret of Crete" (ISBN 0026316005 or 0285621645).
Although Immanuel Velikovsky must have been unaware of these two developments, the elimination of the phony "dark age" of Greece in his reconstruction of history is consistent with and supported by both. It's interesting that in "Ramses II and His Time" (p 90, ISBN 1568490240) Velikovsky suggested that the "Hittite" library preserved an extensive library of Etruscan, since the misdating of the archive will have prevented such an identification.
"Removing the historical scene to where it belongs, namely, to the seventh and sixth centuries before the present era, we wonder which of these languages is Chaldean, which Phrygian, which Lydian, which Median, which perchance Etruscan, spoken by a people who came to Italy from Asia Minor... 'Hittite' was the language most commonly used during the Empire period. Modern scholarship found that Lydian 'seems to be Hittite' -- the Lydian and the 'Hittite' kingdoms were contemporary, and used the same language. Hurrian... is but a mistaken name for Carian."
Other books by Barry Fell:
-:- Saga America
-:- Bronze Age America
Also see my ListMania lists.
Just be careful what you believe, reader. Yes, some of this stuff might be true. Also, I applaud anyone out there who's mind is awake enough to even care about this kind of thing. Not everyone would read a book like this. Still, his arguments sometimes do have holes. The stone chambers in New England, which he feels were made by pre-Columbian Celts, were most likely created by colonial farmers. A lot of very serious archaeologists, who really know what they're talking about, have studied the New England stuff in depth, and they tend to disagree with Dr. Fell.
Some of his conclusions really might hold water though. I want him to be right. Some of his ideas about Algonquin, American place names deriving from age-old Celtic words are particularly exciting to me. There is a highly respected archaeologist at the University of Calgary, a Dr. David Kelley, who believes some of Fells ideas are correct. For perspective, it is useful to know that this same Dr. Kelley supported various ideas about the nature of Mayan hieroglyphics at a time when the "establishment", such as it was, was totally against them. Time proved Kelley right on that matter -- perhaps he is correct about this as well. I hope he is. Just don't be TOO credulous, whoever reads this. For some reason Barry Fells ideas seem to have given him an almost cult-like following. Don't be a cult member. Some people just have a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything "the establishment" says, but there IS no establishment, archaeology is a field of study, and if Dr. Fells ideas are right, time will prove him to be so. Just try to think through what he says, and if you have the means, maybe do a little investigating on your own.
Other sources of information you might want to look at would include the cover article in the January 2000 edition of the "Atlantic Monthly", or "Columbus was Last" by Patrick Huyghe. I think "Columbus was Last" is out of print, but if you can find it through inter-library loan, or online, I would encourage you to do so. Huyghe presents Fells arguments, and many others, supporting the idea of pre-Columbian contact between America and Europe or Asia. Also, his book has a terrific bibliography, for further reading.
I just finally wanted to say that I disagree with people who politicize Fell's ideas. He isn't demeaning native American cultures by implying that a few tiny, obscure elements of them may once have originated in Europe. Every culture in the world has impurities in that sense -- our own language, English, is probably the biggest hodgepodge of intercultural linguistic borrowings in the world. My final comment would be to be careful that you don't get completely swayed by Fell's way of presenting his ideas. He BELIEVES he is right, in a very strong way, and this had an impact on his objectivity on many levels. Just be careful reading this, and join me in HOPING he's right, for the sheer coolness of his ideas.
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