A period of 25-30,000 years can be more or less retained in memory by the human race. The inhabitants of the Earth observed cosmic and terrestrial phenomena whose symbolic record has been retained in religious history; myth and legend; and in festivals, customs, and traditions.
Ever since the time of Charles Darwin, Sykes noted that there had been an ever-widening rift between religious and anthropological ideas on prehistory. The basic fact is that ancient history, whether religious or secular or merely myth and legend, represents the honest opinions of men endeavoring to assess past events within the framework of the knowledge of the day.
Egerton Sykes believed that man had no single ancestor but rather a multitude of them in different parts of the world. Sykes stated, “Where humanity actually started is anybody’s guess. I think that primeval beings were emerging in a score of suitable regions; one would imagine that there were at least three or four emergences... There may have been more, we are continually digging up the remains of experiments that failed...”
Linguistics is the study of language.
It was the need for some method of keeping the accounts of the various shipmasters that led to the spread of writing. Somewhere about 4500 BC, a system of writing evolved in Mesopotamia, now known as cuneiform, in which sharp instruments were used to cut lines on soft clay bricks which were then baked for storage. The idea of using clay bricks to keep their tallies did not appeal to the Phoenician traders, and it was their culture hero Cadmus who first had the idea of painting these signs on sheets of papyrus with the aid of a brush. The process was first worked out in the town of Byblos.
Unfortunately for posterity, the gulf between the academic writer who lived and worked in the groves of learning, and the merchant seamen and shipmasters, whose tastes when in port tended to run in somewhat different directions, was too great. The traders were only concerned with keeping accounts, not with descriptive texts.
In 1948, the American Press for Art and Science, New York, published Arnold D. Wadler’s One Language — Source of all Tongues, which was reviewed in Atlantis in March 1949. In this interesting study of linguistics, the author points out some of the fallacies of Grimm’s law of consonantal shift. These are obvious if it is appreciated that the stem of language growth starts long before the Aryan languages originated, and thus, there are always sharply diverging elements introduced into any speech, which defy any fixed law so far established. The similarity of Runic with early Greek and Roman scripts is proven conclusively. One must go considerably further back than has been attempted in order to seek a common root between Egyptian hieroglyphs and cuneiform. The author shares the opinion of Gattefosse (“Les Sages Ecritures”, Lyon, 1945) with respect to the relationship between Zodiacal signs and the origin of writing.
In August 1949 in Atlantis, P.L. Collignon wrote Basque Notes in which he stated, “Dr. Rendel Harris claims that the name of Tabasco, north-west of Guatemala, is ancient Egyptian and means ‘The Land of the Basques’. Colonel A. Braghine records that when he was in Guatemala he often heard about one Indian tribe living in the Peten district (Northern Guatemala) which spoke a language resembling Basque and that he had heard of an occasion when a Basque missionary preached in Peten in his own idiom with great success... Col. Braghine makes the very interesting suggestion that the Basques were refugees from Atlantis. Some of the clans, he thinks, including the Petens and Otomis, were left in Guatemala and Mexico, while others sailed in a westerly direction and, after prolonged residence among Polynesian and Malayan tribes, eventually settled in Japan.”
Diffusionism is the spread of linguistic or cultural practices or innovations within a community or from one community to another. In Sykes’ words, “Diffusion is the lifeblood of civilization.”
Once upon a time, history appeared to be uncomplicated, as we all knew that Columbus discovered America at the end of the 15th century AD. Questions arose when a stone carving in Minnesota was attributed to an early Viking expedition. Since then, analysis of findings in North and Central America has raised many questions as to who really were our first visitors.
Sykes became interested in Diffusion as a patient at a military hospital in 1916. He considered that the problem of Atlantis was but one facet of the overall question of pre-Columbian Atlantic crossings. Sykes believed that visitors to America arrived at least 10,000 and possibly 50,000 years ago. Sykes stated, “The movement of peoples has been going on for a long time; North and South America are no more exempt from this than Europe, Africa, and Asia. Even Australia... must have formed part of the overall pattern.” The process of Diffusion left behind a whole series of river and place names; stories of adventures; the occasional artifact; and the beginning of history. Sykes wrote dozens of articles on the topic, including Some Early Explorers Of The Atlantic for the October 1960 issue of Atlantis.
Early Diffusionists set out to prove that there have been Old World cultural manifestations on the Eastern seaboard of the USA since 10,000 BC, and on the West Coast of the USA, there have been Chinese and Japanese (Ainu and Jomon) traces dating nearly as far back.
Early members of the Diffusionist movement included Elliot Smith and W. Perry, who supported the historical school of culture migration which believed that similarities of behavior and belief of human beings all over the world were due to the spread of culture from one or more sources (versus the psychological school led by Dr. Marett which concluded that similarities of human behavior around the world was due to similarities of circumstances and human reactions to them), and Rendel Harris, the famous Biblical Scholar and archaeologist.
In the August 1965 issue of New World Antiquity, Sykes wrote Diffusion or Sterility , in which he commented,
"Half a century ago, the battle for Diffusion was being fought and bitterly contested in scientific circles all over the world. It eventually came to a stalemate with the deaths of Elliot Smith, Rendel Harris, and Perry... However, no matter what set opinions can do to alter the course of future history, there is nothing that they can do to obliterate or even to change, what happened in the past. If one takes the recent historic period, say the last 10,000 years, there is nothing in the laws of probability or in known facts to support the assumption that during that period both North and South America remained immune from contact with the outside world. If only a course in oceanography had been compulsory for those showing isolationist tendencies..."
In 1966, Sykes wrote The Relationship Of Diffusionism To Anthropology And Archaeology in which he stated, “Well the wheel has very nearly turned full circle. Scientists from all over the world, including that temple of reactionary conservatism, the Smithsonian, are reluctantly becoming imbued with the Diffusionist idea... Cultures diffuse or die. Stagnation and decay are the fates of isolationist cultures, no matter on what political or academic level.” In the next issue, Sykes commented on the fact that Yale and the Smithsonian had both gone overboard in the Diffusionist stream, “The fact that they have all been proved to be wrong is something that every outside observer has awaited for years... It is always possible to shut one’s eyes to the truth for a certain time, but sooner or later, dazzling horizons of interdependent world history have to be accepted."
Rendel Harris (1852-1941) was a distinguished Third Wrangler mathematician at Clare College in Cambridge. Harris studied the writings of great classical authors and was proficient in fourteen languages, ancient and modern. Harris became Professor of New Testament Greek and Palaeography at John Hopkins University, Baltimore, and after three years, he became Professor of Theology at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. A few years later, while staying in Egypt, he discovered part of a papyrus roll of the Book of Deuteronomy in the Greek version of the Septuagint that was acknowledged to be three-hundred years earlier than any other manuscript of the Bible in Greek. Subsequently, he accepted the post of Director of Social and Religious Studies at Woodbrooke near Birmingham. Harris held doctorates from the Universities of Dublin, Leyden, Pennsylvania, Birmingham, and Glasgow. Harris won fame for his work on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. He performed comparative study of religion and primitive folklore, and studied Egyptology. The Pursuit of Truth was the whole work of his life. He devised theories on the New Testament origins; the origins of Stonehenge; and Diffusion. Harris made remarkable suggestions about the influence of ancient Egyptians on other parts of the globe that included Europe, the Mediterranean, North, South, and Central America, as well as the British Isles. Harris was a personal friend of all the great Egyptologists of his time. He based most of his suggestions on place names. Harris hypothesized that Stonehenge was built by the Egyptians 1800 to 2000 years before Christ, for the joint worship of the Sun and the Dead, as a second Abydos (the great Egyptian sanctuary of the dead and, after Thebes, was the most important town in the ancient kingdom of Upper Egypt). In retirement, Harris wrote the Woodbrooke, Sunset, Caravan, and Evergreen Essays, which largely dealt with the spread of Egyptian culture. Professor Rendel Harris published the majority of his series of essays, including the Afterglow Essays, between the last two World Wars.
Harris gave an interesting motivation that prompted Egyptian exploration in distant lands. The Egyptians loved life and hated death. The Book of the Dead depicts ideas of the After-life as a glorified earthly existence. It was thought that the "Blessed Fields" lay in the west where the dying Sun departed. Somewhere in the West lay the “Earthly Paradise”, the “Isles of the Blessed” with their “Fountains of Youth”, and the search for this lasted down to the times of the Elizabethan explorers.
In a lecture given by P.L. Collignon at Caxton Hall, Westminster on Thursday May 26, 1949, which introduced the work of Rendel Harris, he stated near the end, “And now, to finish with, I am going to disclose for the first time, something which will, I know, dispel any doubts any of you may have about the genuineness of Rendel Harris’ basic discoveries. There is in existence in Birmingham, correspondence bound in M.S. volumes, between Dr. Harris and the great Egyptologist Sir E.A. Wallis Budge. Over and over again, in Budge’s letters, there are expressions of great sympathy and understanding of Dr. Harris’ work, and in one of them he quite plainly says that, as words fail him, he can only raise his hat in reverence." One of Budge’s letters dated September 1930 stated, "How you collected so much encyclopedic knowledge puzzles me and leaves me like a monk out of his cell gasping."; and May 1934, "Friend Harris, I have pumped dry my well of expressions of thanks and adulatory adjectives on your knowledge. So all I can do is to stand with bared head in gratitude to you." P.L. Collignon’s two articles, Egyptian Place Names In Relation To The Diffusion Of Culture, were published in the June and August 1949 issues of Atlantis.
Sykes once stated, "... had the voyage of Columbus not been preceded by the long series of Crusades and wars designed to keep Europe free from the Islamic invaders, it would have passed unnoticed, as had the journeys of his predecessors."
When Columbus set sail for America, he was not taking a chance, as he had before him the experiences of sailors and traders who, for literally thousands of years, had been following the same route. The age of the great mariners may have started about BC 3000. Columbus’ place in history is assured; nowadays, the question is finding out what really happened and why the truth was not made clear at the time. It was only in 1484 that the Spaniards finally managed to conquer the Moors, who had been established on the Iberian Peninsula for centuries. The victory did little to replenish the finances of the State, and something was needed to put the country back on its feet again. Did Columbus really think that he was going to reach Cathay, or did he already know of the existence of an American continent?
Professor J.J. Zukernik of the State Pedagogic Institute, Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, U.S.S.R., wrote several articles in 1960-1961 on the journals of Columbus which showed marked differences between what he wrote and what history tells us that he did, and which indicate that he was proceeding on the basis of a portolan written by some earlier traveler. Columbus was likely influenced by earlier charts of the Atlantic, such as those of Nicolas of Lynn, Toscanelli, and Orontus Finaeus. In three consecutive issues of New World Antiquity — July through December 1977 — Sykes published Zukernick’s The Writings Of Christopher Columbus Part 1, 2 & 3. Zukernick’s writings caused no protests among New World Antiquity’s scholarly readership — not even a ripple. Sykes believed that Zukernick’s writings were likely to cause the rewriting of much of the history of the period.
Not only is the original journal of Columbus missing, but also the transcript of it made by order of Ferdinand and Isabella has also vanished. Sykes wondered if the original journal in Madrid and the transcript in Barcelona were destroyed or concealed for religious or political purposes.
The Clockwise Diffusionists
In 1966, Sykes published a monograph The Clockwise Diffusionists, in which he set out to destroy the Columbus Myth. The Clockwise Diffusionists simply refers to the clockwise Atlantic Current. In the January 1975 issue of Atlantis, Sykes updated The Clockwise Diffusionists.
Some approximate dates of travelers include Egyptians and Phoenicians, 2750 to 500 BC; Etruscans, Minoans, Pre-Hellenes, and Greeks, 1600 to 500 BC; Romans, 500 BC to AD 250; Irish, 500 BC to AD 900; Vikings, 900 to 1100 AD; and English, Scots, and Welsh, 1100 to 1480 AD.
The movement toward the West began immediately after the opening of the passage between the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar), and the simultaneous breaking down of the land bridge from Italy to Tunisia. The Mediterranean had been milked dry, and traders knew that survival required expansion in some other direction.
For travelers from the British Isles, there was a choice of two routes: 1) the Vikings and some of the Irish took the Northern Route and went island hopping via Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, and New England; or 2) the alternative was the Central Route in which the southern arm of the Gulf Stream would land travelers in the Caribbean/West Indies and then on to the Gulf of Mexico or Florida.
For those living further south on the west coast of Africa, the Southern Route to the Americas was via the South Atlantic Current to the Canaries or Cape Verde Islands and the Azores, to the Amazon.
The Gulf Stream has been fairly constant for the last 5000 years — if not more. If advantage was taken of the ocean currents, there was nothing particularly difficult about any of these trans-Atlantic journeys, as long as the food and water held out. The real problems were the recognizing of the Gulf Stream current a day or so out of the Pillars of Hercules; the possibility that the Mississippi might be taken for an arm of the sea; recognition of the Azores on the homeward trip; and knowledge of where to break away from the Gulf stream and sail home.
Sykes dismissed the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans as potential explorers of the Atlantic as they were not seafaring nations; however, they financed voyages made by professional sailors. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Etruscans, and Minoans were all experienced seamen. There were also Welsh, Scandinavian, and Irish visitors to the New World, along with the Barbary Moors, and seamen of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Plutarch, writing about AD 100, gave an account of voyages across the Atlantic, as did Homer, Herodotus, Avenius, Eratosthenes, Hecateus, Pliny, Polybius, Statius Sebosus, and Timosthenes.
In March 1970, Sykes published Phoenician Inscriptions In The Americas in New World Antiquity, in which he stated, “In the Old World there is always hope that another papyrus or dated inscription may turn up, or even another classical text. There are literally hundreds of tons of documents of this nature lying at the best in packing cases, or at the worst in rotting heaps on the floors in cellars in religious, educational, and secular buildings throughout Europe, the Near East, and Russian Central Asia. The Codex Siniaticus was discovered lying under a pile of rubble, simply because the then tenants had no idea of its meaning; during the war it was estimated that it would take several hundred trucks to shift the known dumps of Gnostic and earlier literature in Egypt; in Cambridge University, England, there is a pile of documents weighing a ton and a half less two pounds, brought to England in 1896 by Professor S. Schlechter. Of these, one was published in 1910, and another was being studied in 1963, the remainder is untouched."
The Phoenicians reached the Americas prior to Columbus and kept their knowledge to themselves. Details of where ships could obtain water, and information about the colleges of priestesses that provided the mariner with weather lore and other desires, were mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey and the Irish Sagas. Sykes studied numerous reports concerning the discovery of Phoenician artifacts and inscriptions in parts of South America, and the eastern seaboard of the USA and Canada. The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians left a chain of petroglyphs from New England to the Amazon.
A reference to an Ocean island outside the Pillars of Hercules with navigable rivers, On Marvelous Things Heard (Aristotle Minor Works, page 271, No. 84, in the Loeb Classical Library), was written from 322 to 269 BC by Theophrastus or Strato, who presided over the philosophic school founded in Athens by Aristotle. According to the text, the island had been found by the Carthaginians who frequented it quite often owing to its prosperity.
The last Carthaginian voyages of import were those of Hanno and Himilco. The Periplus of Hanno in 450 BC indicated that the Carthaginian captain was taking over seaports established by some earlier race. The voyage of Himilco, who set off to the northwest at the same time as Hanno to the southwest, told the same story. The text of the Periplus of Scylax of Carianda of about 350 BC indicates that voyagers reached the weed-strewn waters of the Sargasso Sea.
According to Sykes’ The Phoenicians, The Carthaginians, And The Americas, published in the August 1961 issue of Atlantis, the Carthaginian sailors traveled via the Gulf Stream to North America, Venezuela and Brazil, and there are a considerable quantity of petroglyphs in Harrisburg, Virginia left behind by a Carthaginian expedition.
In 1965, Dr. Mario Gattoni Celli of Rome, Italy, stated that Etruscan explorers reached South America about 1000 BC. The statement appeared in the Daily Telegraph; was broadcast by radio in the USSR; and a letter to Alf Bajocco from Dr. Gattoni Celli dated December 16, 1965, was published in Atlantis (February/March 1966). The most exciting point about Dr. Gattoni Celli’s theory was that he deciphered the Etruscan inscription on the sarcophagus of Laris Pulena in Tarquina, Italy, and speculated that he was on his way to deciphering the riddle of the Etruscan language. Scholars had been unable even to say to which linguistic group Etruscan belonged.
In the November 1978 issue of New World Antiquity, Dr. Ron Anjard published Possible Egyptian Roots In America. The Egyptian language had a practically world-wide distribution, and still survives in place names today. Sykes agreed that the Egyptians played a large part in the spread of culture since 3500 BC; however, this did not imply that the whole cultural set up in the Americas was attributed to them. Sykes could not appreciate any particular relationship between Egypt and Titicaca, or for that matter, with any of the Andean civilizations — except as visiting traders.
The first arrivals to Florida were the Egyptians in Phoenician ships. An Egyptian expedition in Phoenician ships reached Florida in 1500 BC.
In 1874, the Davenport (Iowa) Calendar Stele was found in a burial mound. The inscription on it was written in three languages — Egyptian hieroglyphs, Iberian-Punic, and Libyan. The tablet describes an Egyptian celebration on the morning of the March equinox. Egyptian hieroglyphs were also found in South Write River, Vermont and on the rocks of the Cimarron River in Oklahoma.
The travels of the earliest Irish sailors began about 500 BC. Sykes recorded a list of twenty-six Irish trans-Atlantic voyages. They went in search of material gains such as gold, tin, diamonds, peacock feathers, ivory, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, exotic perfumes, and slaves, as well as the Elysian Fields and Fountain of Youth. The main Celtic voyages in which we are interested are those of Brandon (landfall on Abaca Island), O’Corra, Maeldune (both landed on Haiti), and the Tuirenn Brothers, who brought some of the secrets of healing from Murias giving rise to some of the Irish Magic Cauldrons. Brandan, O’Corra, and Maeldune all visited Murias.
St. Brandan, possibly a variant of Bran, the famous voyager of Celtic mythology, was one of the earliest Europeans to sail to America, along with Conla, Olsin, Cormac, Tadg, and Maeldune (AD 1100). They followed the ancient trading routes to the Americas via Iceland, Greenland, and direct, or via the Azores and the Caribbean.
The Island of Mourning Women was first recorded as having been visited by Maeldune and O’Corra. Rendel Harris pointed out that Isis plus Nephthys (mourning the loss of Osiris) equal Haiti, and that Haiti was a truly Egyptian dual feminine word implying "two weeping women".
When the Irish arrived in Florida, there had been earlier arrivals i.e. Egyptians, Etruscans, Homeric Greeks, Minoans, Phoenicians, and later, Carthaginians and Romans. The Irish voyages ceased shortly before the arrival of the Norsemen. In the May 1968 issue of Atlantis, Sykes published The Irish Epic Sea Captains.
More Travelers From The British Isles
On February 6, 1967, Dr. Alwyn A. Ruddock gave a lecture to the Royal Geographic Society of London that detailed descriptions of pre-Columbian voyages from the Port of Bristol in the forty or so years preceding the journey of Columbus. Documentary evidence of these trips was found in the archives of the City of Bristol.
Nicolas of Lynn sailed to North America in AD 1330. The May 1969 special issue of Atlantis featured Sykes’ essay Nicolas Of Lynn, The Explorer Of The Arctic, 1330 To 1390, With Four Maps.
Travelers to the U.S.A.
Travelers To South East USA
In May 1979, Sykes published Aspects of Early Culture in the South Eastern States in New World Antiquity. He stated with respect to the 10,000 BC post-disaster period, “Somewhere in a triangular area having Miami-Fort Lauderdale or Palm Springs as a base line, the apex being on Andros, lay the remains of what I consider to be the City of Murias... The remains discovered off Bimini may belong to this era or to the next Post Catastrophe one..."
In summary of the article, Sykes’ stated that the battle for precedence in the southeastern states began with the Egyptians and Phoenicians, closely followed by the Colcheans and Etruscans, with the Irish and Nordics trailing close behind. The latter immigration was unrelated to that of the Vikings that took place thousands of years later.
Early Travelers To The Mississippi Valley
In July 1979 in New World Antiquity, Sykes published Aspects of Early Mediterranean Culture in North America, Part 3, The Mississippi Valley. He stated that the only named traveler known to have reached the estuary of the Mississippi was Bran. To offset the absence of personal names we have a quantity of place and river names of Egyptian or Semitic origin: Tennessee means Ta-N-Ese or Land of Isis; Missouri means Mazura or River of Ra; and Kentucky comes from the Egyptian Quantuck or Kintuck meaning Land of Anuboc. Among many artifacts, there is a tablet from Ohio County in the Nashville Museum referring to the eye of Tanith, and in 1956 a tablet was found in West Virginia reading, “Clouds and Thunder Serve the River of Death. The Eye of Tanith”.
Early Travelers To The North East Coast
In New World Antiquity in 1979, Sykes published Aspects of Early American Culture in North America. The Viking sites lay between New Jersey and Labrador, but the Vikings do not belong to the prehistoric period. The last people to have bridged the gap between prehistory and history were the Irish, who were exterminated by the Vikings. On Rhode Island, the name of the town of Woonsocket means "Field of Osiris". Sykes believed that Mystery Hill was probably of Phoenician origin, and speculated that at some period in its existence, Mystery Hill was known as Norumbega. Sykes also postulated that the tower at Newport was an Irish Cloighteach, which were found dotted everywhere the Irish visited.
Later in 1979 in New World Antiquity, Sykes published the final installment Part 5. From New England to the St. Lawrence Estuary that described the Irish and Viking traces in the region.
After drifting across four-thousand miles of open sea on a balsa wood raft with five friends, Thor Heyerdahl concluded that the Polynesians migrated to their South Sea Island from South America. The theory raised many questions. What would drive the ancestors of a whole people to this unnecessary desperation to face the unknown ocean rather than seek safety in the Peruvian valleys and highlands? Based on analysis of language, K.B. Jamieson deduced that the Polynesians were of Indonesian origin, Sumatra or Java, and spoke a language derived in prehistoric times from South China. He also suggested that the old civilization of Peru was derived from China.
In 1956, Dr. Robert Heine-Geldern of the American Museum of Natural History wrote The Origin of Ancient Civilizations and Toynbee’s Theories in Diogenes (No. 13, University of Chicago Press) — the first responsible theory by a responsible archaeologist for trans-Pacific contact. Heine-Geldern made some startling statements concerning pre-Columbian contacts between Asia and the Americas, and suggested that the Chavin culture of the 8th century BC was a direct result of Chinese influence. Toynbee contended the independent evolution of the Mesoamerican civilizations. The book was reviewed in the June 1956 issue of New World Antiquity in Book Reviews.
In July 1968 in Atlantis, Sykes wrote Trans Pacific Migrations and the Pre-Inca Cultures, in which he stated that, "...in order to evolve a recognizable pattern of events spread over the centuries, one needs to start with one-hundred-and-twenty copies of the North and South Pacific and the North and South Atlantic; thus a total of four-hundred-and-eighty maps, one for each century during the last 12,000 years, and catalogue data as it becomes available."
In March 1970, Sykes published Chinese and Japanese Explorers in America in New World Antiquity. He stated,
"Basically trans-Pacific movements are similar to trans-Atlantic ones in that there exist semicircular currents flowing in both directions. In the Pacific; however, careful use of the Kamchatka current would enable travelers to remain in sight of land for most of the long journey... One of the most interesting signs of penetration from Asia is snake worship which seems to have originated around the Mekong area and to have spread in both directions..."
In a March 1975 book review in Atlantis of Pierre Carnac’s Les Conquerants du Pacific (Laffont, Paris), Sykes summarized,
"Basically the philosophy behind this book, and one that I endorse, is that navigation towards the New World did not only take place across the Atlantic, but across the Pacific as well. The Chinese, the Ainu, and Jomon from Japan, the Polynesians, all managed to reach the West Coast of America from BC 3000 onwards... People have been on the move since the earliest times. When possible they traveled by sea, as it was much quicker than traveling overland, and the risks to life and property were considerably less. The sea journeys were aided by circular currents, such as the Gulf Stream, to be found in the North and South Pacific, as in the South Atlantic. With their aid, these transoceanic journeys became relatively simple..."