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Transport                  3,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

In General

 The Atlantic route to America and back to the Mediterranean had the assistance of the wind and current both ways. The ships coasted down the west coast of Africa, some of them probably as far as the Gulf of Guinea, depending upon where they intended to make landfall in America. They then turned west with the north-easterly trade winds behind them, upon the current which moves across the Atlantic at about one knot into the Caribbean and washes into the Gulf of Mexico. To return it was necessary only to sail northwards out of the Caribbean and then be borne eastwards on the Gulf Stream, with the prevailing west wind behind them. The southern half of the Gulf Stream swings south to the mouth of the Mediterranean. It was a formidable trip over a formidable distance but fully within the power of Copper and Bronze Age sailors. (135)

These men [Phoenicians] were therefore great sailors, great miners, merchants, as it were sea-going Jews, who monopolised the Atlantic trade, patrolling with warships the Pillars of Melkarth, trading down West Africa on the one hand: northward as far as Britain and Scandinavia on the other, and as we now know they sailed out into the Atlantic to America. I think that they kept, when possible, to the warm 'highways of the fish'. And, a matter which historians constantly ignore, sailing eastwards from Ezion­geber as well as westwards across the Mediterranean, they knew all the parts of Ocean, the Pacific and Indian parts as well as the Atlantic. They appear to be a constant factor in this maritime story, from the time of the Indus sea-people and the Sumerians to the time of the Romans; often dominated on land, rarely defeated on the sea. To this extent we can salute them. (135)

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

 People in Mesopotamia and on the steppes had been hitching oxen, asses and horses to these heavy wagons and carts since before 3000 BC. Mesopotamian art as early as 2600 shows warriors being transported to battle in carts with solid wheels. (81)

The seventh wild horse relative, the onager of western Asia, may have been used to pull wagons for some centuries after 3000 BC. But all accounts of the onager blast its vile disposition with adjectives like "bad-tempered," "irascible," "unapproachable," "unchangeable," and "inherently intractable." The vicious beasts had to be kept muzzled to prevent them from biting their attendants. When domesticated horses reached the Middle East around 2300 BC, onagers were finally kicked onto the scrap heap of failed domesticates. (114)

…wheeled vehicles were unknown before 3300 BC, but within a few centuries of that date they were widely recorded throughout Europe and the Middle East. The first evidence of horse domestication is for the Sredny Stog culture around 4000 BC, in the steppes just north of the Black Sea, where archaeologist David Anthony has identified wear marks on horses' teeth that indicate use of a bit for riding. (114)

The wheel appeared in Sumer about 3200 BC, but not in Egypt until fourteen hundred years later. (128)

The ziggurat of the American-Indian civilization was certainly neither Carthaginian, nor Phoenecian, nor Mykenean Greek, nor Hittite, nor Minoan Cretan in style, but it was the characteristic type of ecclesiastical architecture probably of Mohenjo-daro and certainly of Sumer, Akkad and Babylon during the third millenium. Historians attribute their concentration upon astronomical research to their desire to fix the calendar for agriculture and their interest in astrology. But these Asian nations were served by the greatest merchant-seamen of the ancient world who used the stars for navigation. Navigation was far more important than agriculture to the rulers of empires. The first discoverers of American wealth in copper, tin, silver and gold were the seamen working for the Indus Valley Aryans and Sumerians. (135)

Egypt

More amazing was the discovery made in the Upper Nile Valley near the close of the nineteenth century. The story is best told by the famous author and explorer David Hatcher Childress: "In 1898, a model was found in an Egyptian tomb near Sakkara. It was labeled a 'bird' and cataloged Object 6347 at the Egyptian Museum, in Cairo. Then, in 1969, Dr. Khalil Massiha was startled to see that the 'bird' not only had straight wings, but also an upright tail-fin. To Dr. Massiha, the object appeared to be that of a model airplane. It is made of wood, weighs 39.12 grams and remains in good condition. "The wingspan is 18 cm, the aircraft's nose is 3.2 cm long, and the overall length is 18 cm. The extremities of the aircraft and the wing-tips are aerodynamically shaped. Apart from a symbolic eye and two short lines under the wings, it has no decorations nor has it any landing legs. Experts have tested the model and found it airworthy." In all, fourteen similar flying models have been recovered from ancient digs in Egypt. Interestingly, the Saqqara example came from an archeological zone identified with the earliest dynastic periods, at the very beginning of pharaonic civilization, which suggests that the aircraft was not a later development but belonged instead to the first years of civilization in the Nile Valley. (65)

In defense of the dynastic race theory, carvings on an ivory knife handle from the town of Gebel-el-Arak (near Denderah, 250 miles south of Cairo) and paintings on the walls of a late-predynastic tomb dated to 3500 BC at Hierakonopolis suggest invasion of the Nile Valley by a seafaring people. Some believe the style of the ornamentation on the knife handle to be Mesopotamian or possibly Syrian. The scene possibly represents a sea battle against invaders; this is also depicted in the Hierakonopolis tomb. Both of these show Egypt's native ships and strange vessels with a high prow and stem, unmistakably Mesopotamian in origin. There is also the discovery of late-predynastic graves in the northern part of Upper Egypt, where the skulls unearthed were of greater size and the bodies were larger than those of the natives. According to Walter Emery, the difference is so distinct that any suggestion that these people derived from the earlier stock is impossible. (70)

There were dense shadows among the twisted and broken paving stones that separated the Great Pyramid from the three much smaller 'subsidiary' pyramids lying immediately to its east. There were also three deep and narrow rock-cut pits which resembled giant graves. These had been found empty by the archaeologists who had excavated them, but were shaped as though they had been intended to enclose the hulls of high-prowed, streamlined boats. Here there were two further boat-shaped pits, one of which, although still sealed, had been investigated with fibre-optic cameras and was known to contain a high-prowed sea-going vessel more than, 100 feet long. The other pit had been excavated in 1950s. Its contents - an even larger seagoing vessel, a full 141 feet in length... Made of cedarwood, the beautiful ship in the museum was still in perfect condition 4500 years after it had been built. With a displacement of around 40 tons, its design was particularly thought-provoking, incorporating, in the words of one expert, 'all the sea-going ship's characteristic properties, with prow and stem soaring upward, higher than in a Viking ship, to ride out the breakers and high seas, not to contend with the little ripples of the Nile.' (152)

Indus Valley

Ships from Mohenjo-Daro, Indus Valley, Pakistan (left and center); Phoenician-looking ship from Ancient India (right). (120)

A major problem with river ports in general is that they can quickly become choked by silt and useless. At Lothal a scientific solution was found to this problem 4500 years ago. First a huge artificial basin was cut into the ground on the eastern side of the town. Archaeologists and engineers are in little doubt that the design of the dock testifies to a long-accumulated experience within the Indus-Sarasvati civilization of the particular problems and challenges posed by such structures. (124)

...it is thought likely that there were both direct and indirect contacts between the Nile and Indus valleys, and between Asia and Africa in general, going back to very ancient times. In the on-site museum at Lothal we were able to see certain items excavated by Rao's team that are indicative of this. These include a terracotta figurine of a gorilla, a species that is found only in sub-Saharan Africa, and a second terra cotta figure reminiscent of an Egyptian mummy. (124)

Into that gulf as far as Dholavira, the trade of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization was soon to be brought in great high-prowed ocean-going ships - the ships depicted on the terracotta seals of the mid-third millennium BC, the ships that also sailed further south, through the extended Gulf of Cambay, to the now landlocked port of Lothal. (124)

The ziggurat of the American-Indian civilization was certainly neither Carthaginian, nor Phoenecian, nor Mykenean Greek, nor Hittite, nor Minoan Cretan in style, but it was the characteristic type of ecclesiastical architecture probably of Mohenjo-daro and certainly of Sumer, Akkad and Babylon during the third millenium. Historians attribute their concentration upon astronomical research to their desire to fix the calendar for agriculture and their interest in astrology. But these Asian nations were served by the greatest merchant-seamen of the ancient world who used the stars for navigation. Navigation was far more important than agriculture to the rulers of empires. The first discoverers of American wealth in copper, tin, silver and gold were the seamen working for the Indus Valley Aryans and Sumerians. (135)

 ...this is what the discoveries at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have now placed beyond question. They exhibit the Indus peoples of the fourth and third millennia BC, in possession of a highly developed culture in which no vestige of Indo-Aryan influence is to be found. They have domesticated the humped zebu, buffalo, and short-horned bull, besides the sheep, pig, dog, elephant, and camel; but the cat and probably the horse are unknown to them. For transport they had wheeled vehicles, to which oxen doubtless were yoked. (135)

China

 ...in search of the ancient city of Takla Makan, hidden beneath desert sands since antiquity. At the edge of the forest were structures crafted not of stone or mud-brick but of hand-hewn posts and walls of reeds attached by twine to stakes and plastered over with clay. The polished interior walls were painted with colorful murals depicting both women in flowing garments kneeling in prayer and men with black beards and mustaches that were clearly not Chinese. The pictures included nautical scenes of boats sailing on a vast inland lake. Further digging into the ruins revealed docks for the boats and wood from their keels. The Takla Makan lake had been enormous in area and depth. Its middle shoreline stood more than three thousand feet above the lowest part of the lake floor. (131)

Europe

 …wheeled vehicles were unknown before 3300 BC, but within a few centuries of that date they were widely recorded throughout Europe and the Middle East. The first evidence of horse domestication is for the Sredny Stog culture around 4000 BC, in the steppes just north of the Black Sea, where archaeologist David Anthony has identified wear marks on horses' teeth that indicate use of a bit for riding. (114)

Human occupation of the Russian steppe accelerated with horse domestication and then exploded with the invention of ox-drawn wheeled vehicles around 3300 BC. (114)

Ships built in Crete during the Bronze Age were 100 feet and longer. They had up to 50 rowers, 25 on each side. They'd built their "kivas" all through the Mediterranean in Sicily, Sardinia, Balearic Isles, Malta, and then in Spain, had moved out past Gibraltar, built more "kivas" in Brittany, the British Isles, England, Ireland, then up to Denmark and, in a more southerly route, across the Atlantic to the Azores, which may have been a much larger landmass in Neolithic times, to the Americas. (120)

Crete began to flourish as a naval power in the third millennium. It had considerable commercial contacts with the Sumerian town of Mari. (135)

South America

 The role of animal domestication in early Peru is unclear, but llamas and guinea pigs were certainly domesticated in central Peru by 3500 BC. As in Mexico, however, hunting continued to play an important role in many areas until quite late. (52)

More controversially, there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that the Jomon may not have confined themselves to exploring their own region. According to the findings of an international team of researchers led by C. Loring Brace of the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology, migrants entering North America across the Bering land-bridge at the end of the Ice Age were 'people closely resembling the prehistoric Jomon of Japan'. Published in the 31 July 2001 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings provide: strong evidence supporting earlier work suggesting that ancient Americans...were descended from the Jomon, who walked from Japan to the Asian mainland and eventually to the Western hemisphere on land-bridges as the Earth began to warm up about 15,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age.

But perhaps they didn't always walk. There is at any rate evidence from a later period, approximately 5000 years ago, that they may have undertaken transoceanic voyages, reaching as far as the shores of South America. The most famous, though still disputed and controversial, case is the discovery at Valdivia in Ecuador of what has been claimed to be Jomon pottery in deposits more than 5000 years old. But Jomon pottery has also turned up in almost equally ancient layers across the South Pacific - at Fiji, for example, and at Vanuatu. 'It's reasonable to conclude', says Professor Yoshihiko Shinoto of the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, 'that the Jomon traveled very widely in the Pacific area. Of course they could only have done so by sea.' (124)

...solid stone wheels have been excavated at Tiahuanaco, probably for moving the cyclopean blocks of stone used in building. That the transport wheel, while available, was not more widely used has been reasonably ascribed to lack of a draught animal. The Indians then, throughout America, used pack animals, porters and water transport, as did the early Sumerians themselves.

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 

Other

 More controversially, there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that the Jomon may not have confined themselves to exploring their own region. According to the findings of an international team of researchers led by C. Loring Brace of the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology, migrants entering North America across the Bering land-bridge at the end of the Ice Age were 'people closely resembling the prehistoric Jomon of Japan'. Published in the 31 July 2001 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings provide: strong evidence supporting earlier work suggesting that ancient Americans...were descended from the Jomon, who walked from Japan to the Asian mainland and eventually to the Western hemisphere on land-bridges as the Earth began to warm up about 15,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age.

But perhaps they didn't always walk. There is at any rate evidence from a later period, approximately 5000 years ago, that they may have undertaken transoceanic voyages, reaching as far as the shores of South America. The most famous, though still disputed and controversial, case is the discovery at Valdivia in Ecuador of what has been claimed to be Jomon pottery in deposits more than 5000 years old. But Jomon pottery has also turned up in almost equally ancient layers across the South Pacific - at Fiji, for example, and at Vanuatu. 'It's reasonable to conclude', says Professor Yoshihiko Shinoto of the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, 'that the Jomon traveled very widely in the Pacific area. Of course they could only have done so by sea.' (124)