Friday, November 26, 2010

Ancient Travelers

Two fascinating stories in the news today, from two- and one-thousand years ago respectively, brought to light because of advances in genetic science — Chinese Villagers 'Descended From Roman Soldiers' and American Indian Sailed to Europe With Vikings?

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Blogger Pints in NYC said...

I read the title and thought this post was going to be an ode to Zecharia Sitchin.

My bad.

1:01 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I had not heard of Zecharia Sitchin before your comment, although it seems my sister might be a believer. Sounds a lot like Erich von Däniken, whose books my parents had on the shelf.

I'm more of an Immanuel Velikovsky guy myself, but I find the far more plausible stories of ancient interactions among various peoples far more interesting than even his Worlds in Collision.

2:38 AM  
Blogger Pints in NYC said...

Yeah, Sitchen and Daniken may fall in the same camp.

You may be interested to know that, here in the States, the rather popular History Channel on cable TV showcases these guys and their theories all the time.

Fun stuff, for sure; along the lines of Nimoy's old "In Search Of" series. And a pleasant breather from all the National Socialism documentaries they otherwise broadcast nearly 24/7.

Though I wonder what it says of the state of American historical consciousness when this is the main pop history of our day?

Of course, I play into it, too. At least for ratings (sure. . . . ):

8:39 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Fascinating stuff, and a reminder to us that the ancient world was a much more interconnected -- and weirder -- place than many of us regularly imagine. I remember reading about how one of the largest troves of Manachean literature is written in Chinese, and that there were Nestorian bishops in China when Marco Polo got there. Nestorians and Manacheans!

9:30 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Pints, fun stuff indeed!

Mark, some people suggest the Nestorians made it all the way to Korea. Why not? My wife's hometown's hero, Cheoyong, was an Arab trader in the first millenium. In fact, the name "Korea" comes from Arabic rendition of Goryeo, the name of the kingdom here at the time.

Back to China, one of my favorite stories is how Father Matteo Ricci, this blog's namesake, was asked by the Kaifeng Jews to be their chief rabbi.

Also interesting is that some people suggest that the Basques and Ainu of Hokkaido are related.

10:03 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

One of the readings I use with my Freshman to introduce America reminds us that the distance between New York and Los Angeles is greater than that between rome and New Dehli.

Still, Alexander the Great's exploits always amaze me, as do those of Genghis Khan. (Two earlier posts about him -- Genghis Khan -- Classical Liberal and The Great Progenitor.)

Also interesting, the Tibetan word for Europe is "Rum-yül, meaning "Rome-land."

10:23 AM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


I have nothing to contribute myself, but may I say that I love this comments thread? =D

8:30 PM  

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