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Who really discovered America? (excluding the native Americans)

Discussion in 'World History' started by MrPresident, Jan 18, 2002.

?

Who discovered America?

  1. Mr Columbus and the Spanish

    10 vote(s)
    10.8%
  2. The British fisherman

    1 vote(s)
    1.1%
  3. The Vikings

    57 vote(s)
    61.3%
  4. The Irish Priest

    6 vote(s)
    6.5%
  5. Other

    17 vote(s)
    18.3%
  6. Don't know, don't care etc

    2 vote(s)
    2.2%
  1. MrPresident

    MrPresident Anglo-Saxon Liberal

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    We all know the story of how Columbus decided to sail the ocean blue, in 1492. However is this the true story of how America was discovered. Was it the vikings, they discovered Greenland and it is possible that they made the short trip the North America. How about the Irish priest who headed west to find someone to convert. The Spanish note that some of the natives they encounted performed a religious procession very similar to that to a catholic one. How about the English fisherman who having been banned from the bountiful shores off Iceland continued to bring in abundant loads. Then when they were invited to return to Iceland they turned down the offer. What do you think?
     
  2. DingBat

    DingBat Paranoid Android

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    I think there's two ways to view history.

    1) There's real history, which is what really happened. Good luck figuring this out without a lot of digging, if ever.

    2) There's recorded history. If you did something but no one recorded it, then it didn't really happen.

    Columbus gets the nod for discovering the new world because someone recorded it.

    Was he the first? Not likely. That honor probably goes to some drunken Norseman who got really, really, lost on his way back from a good pillage.

    Then again, the asiatics who crossed over to North America on the land bridge may dispute that it was ever "discovered" at all.

    So, I say let Columbus have it. Any other discussion and you might as well ask who discovered Europe.

    /bruce
     
  3. Nahuixtelotzin

    Nahuixtelotzin Huey Tlatoani

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    Though I voted for the Vikings, knowing the purpose of the poll, I would give the honor to Columbus and Vespucci. From Columbus on, his discoveries were remembered and continued and it was Vespucci who "invented" the concept of a new continent. And finally Waldseemüller, for he named America America, what had a huge cultural historic influence as we know...
     
  4. Stefan Haertel

    Stefan Haertel Title

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    There's clear evidence that there was a Viking settlement in Newfoundland around AD 1000. I don't have it here, but there's something extensive about this in the Chronicle of Canada.
    Apart from that, I think it possible that Phoenecian or Roman sailors did set foot on American lands (though I doubt they ever saw their home again).
     
  5. Lefty Scaevola

    Lefty Scaevola Moderatus Illuminatus Super Moderator

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    Polynesians, perhaps? Also some possibility of an Egytian or other African voyage. All largely umiportant. It is not the discovery that matters so much as the conquest. Slaughtering, raping, enslaving, the indigenous peoples and conquering and colonizing their lands to found new realms is what counts in history.
    :rocket2:
     
  6. Vrylakas

    Vrylakas The Verbose Lord

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    Depends entirely on what you mean by "discovered". Does that mean simply being the first non-native to land in the Americas, or being the first to realize that this was truly a new land, or the first to propagate the discovery?

    Here's the scoop:

    The North Atlantic's currents flow in a large counter-clockwise circular pattern that makes it fairly reasonable to believe that the occasional European vessel did accidentally end up on American (continental) shores. (I recall reading of what appear to be ancient Celtic glyphs written on some stones in modern Virginia; most likely shipwreck survivors.) How many of those who did make that unfortunate journey and returned to tell of it is probably next to nil, if not nil. It is fairly well established that the Vikings did indeed establish a settlement in Newfoundland sometime around A.D. 1000-1018, but how many outside of the small Viking communities knew about or even understood the magnitude of the Viking "discoveries"? There are claims by a handful of historians that other expeditions pre-dated Columbus' and this may indeed be so - but the simple bottom-line fact is that Columbus was the first to make the voyage, come back, and tell the rest of world. After Columbus, all of Eurasia became increasingly aware that there were "new" lands in the West.

    I recall reading a trendy Archaeology magazine some years back, and in an article about recent Moche ruin discoveries some person made the following statements: "These ruins were "discovered" by [forgotten name here], a white man who just trod into the jungle one day and asked a young local native child about ruins, and this child had led him to them. The local native villagers had known about these ruins for generations, and yet we say that when a white man shows up, they are "discovered". Why is that?" Why? Because when the local native villagers had exclusivce access to the ruins, a small group (c. 150-200) of very localized people knew of their existance, and knew nothing about their origins or history. When someone from the modern outside world "discovered" them, they not only began a formal study process but they also informed the rest of the world. Now, people on every continent are aware of these Moche ruins, and of the on-going studies into their significance in both local and larger human history.

    Moral: Just showing up doesn't always count as "discovering". something.
     
  7. Sodak

    Sodak Paha Sapa Papa

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    Vrylakas, that is how some white guy is credited with "discovering" Machu Picchu. He asked the locals about a hidden city, some secret place the Spanish never found. A bartender sends him to a local peasant whose son shows him how to get there. Some discovery. :rolleyes:

    Akin to saying Hillary was the first man up Everest. After Norgay, that is.

    Columbus gets credit because he was indeed the first to return and tell a tale that got written down. No, he was not the first, but is the best known.

    The vikings did settle in Newfoundland - guess where the name comes from! Hmm... ;) They didn't stay long, but o well.

    Archaeology has shown several examples of Celts, Romans, and some west Africans having landed, tho none of them likely lived to return, if they even survived the journey.

    However, Polynesians were involved in trade with South America many centuries before Columbus. This goes slightly against the commonly accepted settlement times of the pacific islands, but the spread of plants makes it very hard to argue against it. (See my agriculture thread for more tidbits!) As I love to point out, if they could find Easter Island, they could sure as heck find South America. They couldn't not find it, really. And settlement of the islands is usually dated from hard evidence - something notoriously scant in wet, tropical climes that generally lack stone.
     
  8. Kennelly

    Kennelly Starfleet Admiral

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    I´ve recently seen a documentation about a secret potuguese expedition to America in 1473.So even in the Age of Explorations Columbus doesn´t seem to be the first one.Guess,he was just a good PR manager.
    Anyway I voted for the Vikings,because they´re the ones who are proven of having seen America first excluding Polynesians and the people coming through Alaska.But who knows what was lost in Alexandria?
     
  9. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Chieftain

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    It depends: about what we are speaking?. If you refer for Europe and for the western or current world, in a word, the reality, the only correct one is the first option, the rest are only mythology, anecdotes, stories, rumors...
     
  10. knowltok3

    knowltok3 Chieftain

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    You can argue it many different ways, but viking settlements in Newfoundland are documented and true.
     
  11. kIndal

    kIndal Chieftain

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    if vikings is a good choice, why not Asians or polynesians ones?

    The question must be, which Europeans were the first...?

    Vikings? it is true they were there, the first nobody knows it, there are lot of tales about celtic fisherman or about Phoenicians, Egypcians or Romans...I can believe that a lost fisher ship lost in a storm could arrive to New Foundland but we cannot say that they discover anything in the same way vikings didnt discover anything because they didnt give this knowledge to the World. Discover something is more than have some luck, use it some time and forget it forever.

    I forget...:) My Choice: Spanish, they were the first to say(discover) to the World that something new was in the other side of the ocean.
     
  12. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Chieftain

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    I agree with Kindal
    Probably vikings (and others) was there before, but they did not discover anything. A troglodyte can build his house on an Uranium deposit and die of cancer. It does not mean that he has discovered the Uranium. ;)
     
  13. catullus

    catullus Chieftain

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    So. Columbus did NOT discover America, since he just happened to get stuck on some small islands on his way to Japan, China, India and Indonesia. He never realized what those islands were. He never searched for new land, and the islands he saw on his failed mission to Asia are still absurdely named the West Indies.

    If Romans, Celts, Phoenicians, Troians, Berbs or whatever ever arrived in the New World, it is unlikely such a "discovery" would have been a result of an effort of finding new land. A troglodyte discovery.

    The vikings, however, DID search for new land. They were discoverers by heart, and spent quite some time mapping the Arctic region. While the first sighting of North America was by accident (missed Greenland on the voyage west), the first landing by Leif Eiriksson was a result of a real discovery expedition.
    They pretty much realized they had found a land mass unknown to the rest of Europe, and the region was named as a new land, not West Greenland or somefink. A very true discovery. Admitted, the discovery never made a large impact, neither in America nor in Europe, and it was quickly forgotten by most. But never completely, as recordings of this land existed all the time, both in writing, and in the stories of Icelanders and Norwegians.

    Taking this discovery away from the vikings is like taking the
    invention of concrete away from the Romans, just because the method of production got lost some centuries.

    C.
     
  14. kIndal

    kIndal Chieftain

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    Well, you can say that, ok, Columbus didnt discover America, but Spanish did it, you cannot negate, Columbus opened the way for other real discover voyages when in Spain (and all the World) knew that this lands werent ASia.
    As comment I have read a story about Columbus really knew that America was here, He lived some years in Cape Verde or Madeira(i amnot sure) and some Portuguese shipwrecker came to the islands after discovered Brazil when the ship went to India by Africa. But Columbus didnt say anything or Portuguese had claimed for these new lands(in fact they claimed for it in the treaty of Tordesillas (and Brazil hadnt been discovered yet!!) I dont believe this story but could be nice kow what is true and what is false :)

    and what difference are with Viking discover?Greek, Roman, Persian, Egypcians, Chinese voyages were too real discover voyages.

    as Columbus right? ;)

    as all Spanish voyages next to Columbus.
    So if Columbus havent landed in America, just returned to Spain and said that something new were here, would it be a real discover voyage?

    But it just stories and tales, there were too stories about dragons and monsters in the ocean that nobody believe it. it isnt a correct reason to make true this.

    one question(is not sarcastic:)): what real facts about Vikings presence in N America are there? villages?axes?writing? of course, I amnot talking about Northern stories, i am asking for real facts. if can somebody add some link?
     
  15. Sodak

    Sodak Paha Sapa Papa

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    The Viking presence in north america is archaeological and historical. There is a village site in Newfoundland, of which I forget the name, that was occupied for years. Written records exist in old norse/icelandic. I've never looked for it on the web... They left traces as far south as modern new england.

    Arguing about what makes a sighting a discovery is a bit silly. Did the Vikings share their knowledge of a new land with others? No, and why should they have? There was good fishing and abundant timber they could use. It was 1000ad. Who were they supposed to tell? The nearest significant political entities (other than half-Norse england) were feudal kings in France and central europe. Were they supposed to tell Byzantine scribes in order to qualify as discoverers? Also, being written in old norse may qualify as being lost to the world, but it was recorded.

    The Spanish clearly were the first to act on this discovery. They set about busily settling/plundering the new-found-land (had to slip that in :D ) while the Vikings were already waning into the pages of history. This does not make them the discoverers, tho. Discover means to find, not to use.

    Anyway, the polynesians beat the vikings to it. ;)
     
  16. Jimcat

    Jimcat Culture Vulture

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    For a good reference on the Viking settlements in Newfoundland, see Samuel Eliot Morrison's book _The European Discovery of America_ (Volume I, The Northern Voyages). Morrison was a naval and maritime historian who did extensive research on the subject, and although the book is about thirty years old, it's still considered one of the most definitive in the field. It also contains all you might ever want to know about Viking settlements in Greenland, the search for the Nothwest Passage, the mythical city of Norumbega, and the (probably inauthentic) "Viking inscriptions" in New England and the Great Lakes states.
     
  17. Jimcat

    Jimcat Culture Vulture

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    This thread also made me remember something amusing that I noticed a few years ago. In a park in Newark, New Jersey, there is a statue of Christopher Columbus that was commissioned by the local Italian-American organization (Columbus was born Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, and the Italian-Americans won't let anyone forget it).

    The inscription on the statue reads, in part: "Erected by the Italians, in the land discovered through his genius".

    That one always made me laugh. "in the land blundered across through his folly" would have been more like it! Columbus was aiming for the Indonesian/Philippine islands, and in order to convince the Spanish monarchs that his voyage was possible, he took the smallest estimate for the diameter of the Earth, and the easternmost estimated location of the spice islands -- and then he exaggerated both of them! No educated person in 1490's Spain seriously doubted that the Earth was a sphere. The controversy was whether some small caravels could make it all the way around to Asia by sailing west. And they couldn't have. If there hadn't been this big durned continent in the way, Columbus and his expedition would have starved to death and never been heard from again.
     
  18. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Chieftain

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    Sodak, spare me yours vikings stories. The fact is that NOW you would NOT be speaking about America if the Spanish had not discovered it. Dont agree?
     
  19. Waku

    Waku Chieftain

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    Whether vikings reached the N/america coast or not, their trips were so relevant to the history of America as the anual migrations of salmons, whales or icebergs :p
     
  20. Kahran Ramsus

    Kahran Ramsus Chieftain

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    The Vinland settlement was a part of King Canute's North Sea Empire. They knew about it at the very least in the British Isles, Norway & Denmark.
     

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