The blue planet – water, the most efficient means for transportation during antiquity

The importance of water should be threatened with more commitment. We take it for granted as an infinite supply ready to absorb anything we throw into it, even though the access for its fresh water variant already is critical. But, in a way, even more disheartening is that its significance for mankind´s cultural development has been so sadly neglected. Perhaps because anthropologists traditionally are dedicated to digging on terra firma, and maybe also have an inner fear for the uncontrollable element. A reason for this may be lack of experience in sailing, navigation and ancient methods of building sailing ships.

The negative reactions confronting Thor Heyerdahl and his journeys, demonstrating the ability to cross any ocean even with the most primitive crafts, are depressing examples of landlubbers turning their backs to the disturbing presence of new, blue water carried explanations to old problems regarding transport, may it be goods or ideas.

Another example is Ph.D. Betty J Meggers, the well known archeologist, and her struggle to show, among other proofs, that ceramic, dated c:a 2500 BC, from Valdivia, Ecuador, must have reached South America with fishermen over the Pacific. One of several research efforts (recently; Mike Xu, Bernardo Biados, Katzuo Tajima, Shunro Sonoda) pointing to facts showing that America was culturally influenced by Asia several thousand years before our European impact on the continent. The resistance against this insight has also another cause; we, the Europeans, have discovered and described the world through our European culture. We are brought up seeing it as the master peak of mankind´s creativity, making it hard to admit that other cultures might have been more advanced than our in a distant past.

Through myths told by the wixárica Indians, Mexico, I was given the incentive to take interest in the problems. Being a sailor since childhood, spare time sailing boat designer, and raised in a pilot cultural environment, with sea people as ancestors since early 1700, with only my grandfather the first to order a pilot boat with an engine, 1908, with a grandfather on my mother´s line who in his early teens doubled Cape Horn in the four mast bark Olivebank etc., I was well informed and experienced regarding sailing. I also had the nowadays rare experience being an apprentice on a shipyard, building the last wooden freight ship in Sweden, dressed out with three masts and sails, as a complement to the engine – it was at the end of the world war two, oil in short supply, and sailing ability seen as a competitive necessity.

Therefore, to my judgment, the possibility of cultural ancestors to the Indians arriving over the Pacific, was no mystery. I followed it up with a thorough investigation on the subject, published 1996 and 1997; WIXÁRICA (HUICHOL), History and Connection with the Emergence of the Indian City States in Mexico, (Olmec”, Toltec, Aztec, Quiché-Maya). Seen through Indian Myths, Legends, History”. The illustrations on this page are from the book.

Read it as an inspiration for further research on the neglected importance of the sea as the cultural highway for sailing (and rowing) ships before the engines changed it all. For those interested in Indian cultures in Mexico, the book contains the basic myths on the subject, its early history, and also correction of the thoughtlessly established, and seriously misleading, use of the word “god” when describing earlier, non-Christian cultures.

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