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They Came Before Columbus - PAPERBACK

They Came Before Columbus - PAPERBACK

They Came Before Columbus - PAPERBACK
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A celebrated classic, They Came Before Columbus, deals with a number of contacts -- both planned and accidental, between Africans and Americans in different historical periods. Evidence for a physical/cultural presence of Africans in Early America is methodically examined.
Dr. Van Sertima reveals to us a compelling, dramatic and superbly detailed documentation of the presence and legacy of black Africans in ancient America.
With his considerable scholarship, Van Sertima examines the facts of navigation and shipbuilding, the sources of latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, the scores of cultural analogies found nowhere else except in America and Africa, African languages and the transportation of plants, cloth and animals from Africa to the Americas.  And from the diaries, letters and journals of the explorers themselves; from Carbon-14 dated sculptures found in the Americas; from the Arabic documents, charts, maps from the recorded tales of the griots to the Kings of Mali; from dated skeletons found as recently as 1975, the author builds his pyramid of evidence.
In addition to a scholar's fastidiousness, Van Sertima has the skill of a novelist, and with it recreates some of the most powerful scenes history has to offer:  the launching of the great ships of Mali in 1310 (200 master boats and 200 supply boats); the sea expedition of the Mandingo king himself in 1311, and many others, equally as vivid.
It is the marriage of these twin crafts--the artist's and the scholar's--in the book that makes it possible for us to see clearly the unmistakable face and handprint of black Africans in Pre-Columbian America, and their overwhelming impact on the civilization they found here. (79 illus.)

 — Random House, Inc., New York

Commentary - The New York Times and Dr. Clarence Weiant
Many claims have been made over the years by notable black and white scholars --Woodson, Rogers, Lawrence, Jackson, Bailey, Gordon, Irwin, Jeffreys, Cauvet, Wiener.  They have all been dismissed.  Some of these claims failed to convince anyone but the converted because they needed to be backed up by corroboration from many disciplines.  To claim, for example, that Columbus saw “blacks” in Haiti is one thing.  To prove that those “blacks” were Africans was another, since there are dark-skinned American Indians in tropical zones of America.  Botany (cotton), linguistics (the origin of the word, guanin), metallurgy (the metal alloys in the spears the blacks gave the Americans in trade), navigation (African boats tested on the Atlantic), oceanography (the currents that provided an easy circular route for the pre-Columbian West African trade), archaeology (new skeletal finds in the Caribbean of Africans dated 1250 A.D.) - all these disciplines provided the corroboration that was needed to establish that single claim on a scientific basis.  This, Van Sertima felt, would be his original contribution to the subject at the end of a century of speculation - the definitive proof.
The disciplines Van Sertima explored in order to provide this proof are highlighted in a letter published in The New York Times.  In this letter, one of the oldest and most important archaeologists in America, Dr. Clarence Weiant, who was on the site in Mexico in 1938 when the first African stone head was discovered, defended Van Sertima against attempts by the British archaeological establishment to discredit They Came Before Columbus.
“Van Sertima’s work,” Dr. Weiant wrote in The New York Times (May 1, 1977) “is a summary of six or seven years of meticulous research based upon archaeology, Egyptology, African history, oceanography, geology, astronomy, botany, rare Arabic and Chinese manuscripts, the letters and journals of early American explorers and the observations of physical anthropologists...As one who has been immersed in Mexican archaeology for some 40 years and who participated in the excavation of the first of the giant heads, I must confess, I am thoroughly convinced of the soundness of Van Sertima's conclusions.”  (84 illus.)

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