Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Coming to America

There is a long-standing academic debate going on as to whether or not Muslims came to America before Columbus did in 1492. Some argue that Muslims from Islamic Spain or West Africa came centuries before Columbus and point to historical accounts of such voyages in Arabic texts as well as linguistic clues in the names of places. While the case has not been convincingly made, a summary of the debate is provided by Rebecca Fachner on the History News Network.

What I found interesting in Fachner's article was her reference to Leo Wiener, founder of the Slavic Language Department at Harvard, who made an argument for African Muslims arriving before Columbus (Africa & the Discovery of America). When I looked up Professor Wiener, I found links to some of his published works and discovered that he also made an argument that Germanic languages owe their origins, in large part, to Arabic.

In his, "Commentary to the Germanic Laws and Mediaeval Documents," Professor Wiener states:

The second volume will discuss the more than two hundred words of Arabic origin in the Gothic Bible and in all the Germanic languages. I will also show that the Naples and Arezzo Gothic documents are late eighth century forgeries, that Jordanes has come down to us in manuscripts interpolated about the same time, that Germanic mythology is of a literary Gothic origin, based on Arabic sources, and that no literary documents in Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Old High German exist which do not show the influence of the Arabicised Gothic language.

Professor Wiener also wrote a four-volume text called, "Contributions Toward a History of Arabico-Gothic Culture ," which further develops the above thesis.

It's always interesting to me to find scholars who demonstrate such historical links between Islam and the West. Many historians, in fact, have made the assertion that Europe's Renaissance was fueled by the transfer of knowledge from Islamic civilization through 12th century translation movements (Arabic to Latin) in Europe. It would perhaps go a long way to helping resolve current "ideological" debates if both sides realized how connected they are to one another...

Below I've included links to additional sources that make a claim for Muslim discovery of the New World.

1. They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America by Ivan Van Sertima (Professor at Rutgers University)
2. Unexpected Faces in Ancient America by Alexander Von Wuthenau (Professor of Art History at Mexico's University of the Americas)

The following contain detailed bibliographies for further reading:
3. Exploration in Texas by John L. Davis (online version of his book containing an impressive bibliography)
4. Online bibliography by Karl Schwerin, Dept. of Anthropology, University of New Mexico


M. Imran Abd Ash-Shakur Rana said...

Dang, man. We tight. Well, we once were...!

Tmahmud said...

see this is more like it, no more star trek nonsense