• Support Your Local Olmec

    Over the last couple of centuries, archaeology has gone a long way towards tracing the glittering past of Mesoamerica—a complex, lengthy process of indigenous development, independent of similar trajectories in the “Old World,” producing along the way the glories of the Olmec, Maya, and related cultures. But that’s not how certain Afrocentrists see it.

    Apparently, Olmec civilization was sparked off when a boatload of Egyptian Nubians (plus a few Phoenicians) landed on the shores of Central America in the distant past and taught the benighted indigenes the arts of civilization, pyramid building, agriculture, and all sorts of advanced ideas. The grateful natives commemorated their mentors by carving their likenesses in stone on a huge scale—the massive Olmec heads, which are alleged to display typical African features.

    Now, this pseudohistorical narrative and others like it have been debunked in every detail, but they are still pushed by scholars with Afrocentrist agendas. This has naturally pissed off some descendants of the Olmec and Maya, who rightly regard it as an erasure of their historic legacy as well as arrant pseudoscience. Pushback has begun: a program at the University of New Mexico which includes the “Black Olmec” myth has sparked an online campaign and petition, which can be reached through the above link. Please support your local Olmec by signing the petition.

    [Note: The site also includes a useful booklist, and several excellent critiques of the Afrocentrist position. Highly recommended.]

    Category: FeaturedScienceSkepticism

    Article by: Rebecca Bradley


    1. As an archaeologist and historian with Egyptian-Arab background, it does me good to read this. Thank you for your continued support. Let’s keep fighting pseudo history and pseudo-archaeology.

    2. Without examining the arguments, I must say that by trying to establish facts by collecting signatures on a petition you have only firmly managed to establish yourself as a pseudodebunker. That is a new term in a dictionary, I think – pseudodebunker. You have stooped to a new level of lowliness. Science advances are not a matter of reaching a consensus, or have a majority of votes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having progress at all. This is not supposed to be politics, or maybe it is for you, but I find it disgusting.

      If you wish to show images of modern Mexicans that have African noses and lips, then you better support those with DNA analysis of those 2 people shown, to prove that they do not have black slave ancestors in their genes, or black travelers from ancient times, which can be easily resolved with modern technology. Without experimentally obtained science facts, this is just manipulative propaganda — pseudodebunking.

      Perhaps you should remove the tag ‘SCIENCE’ from the list beneath this article, and leave only ‘SKEPTICISM’, or you might actually supply some hard science facts, not just manipulative insinuations.

      As for the arguments, perhaps you should care to debate the presence of American drugs in the Egyptian mummies ?
      “American Drugs in Egyptian Mummies”, S. A. Wells, http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/ethnic/mummy.htm

      1. Oh, CV. I think you misunderstand the purpose of Hijacking History’s petition. They’re protesting a pseudohistorical denigration of their ancestral culture, in which the facts are not in doubt. Check out the links in my post, where you will find all the “hard science facts” your heart could desire. African noses and lips? You’re begging the question, while also stereotyping Africans. Do you know how wide the range of facial variation is, across the indigenous populations of Africa? And btw, reliable genetic studies have shown no link between African and Mesoamerican (or any other indigenous New World) populations. The cocaine mummies? Oh, please. Check out https://palaeopathologyfiles.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/american-drugs-in-ancient-egyptian-mummies/ and especially https://trichoseriousethnobotany.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-cocaine-mummies-revisited.html for information on possible Old World botanical sources for trace cocaine and nicotine.

        1. Well, Rebecca, the link which I supplied links to an .edu site, while yours are just bloggers, less objective. The finds of Balabanova were never disproved, even your articles claim that, although they do give alternative explanations for the presence of those drugs. I am not an expert in that field, so I will not go into details.

          But, I wish to quote 2 paragraphs from the end of the article which I provided the link to:
          “Surprising at it may seem, evidence for early ocean voyages to America from the Old World is not lacking – nor is it negligibly verifiable. Within the last two years, two periodicals, focusing on these contacts have been established. The first, entitled Pre-Columbiana, is edited by Stephen C. Jett, Professor of Clothings and Textiles at the University of California, Davis; the second is entitled Migration and Diffusion and is edited by Professor Christine Pellek in Vienna, Italy. There is certainly quite a bit of spurious reports of early contacts from the Old World, however, a general disregard for all of the evidence is, anymore, itself evidence of academic negligence, as these two periodicals indicate.
          Here follows then a paragraph with references, which I skip, and a final conclusion:
          “And the list goes on and on – some evidence being better than others – but as a whole it seems pretty much irrefutable. Claims to the contrary seem to be made by individuals with a vested interest in the isolationist position. The evidence, pro and con, when evaluated objectively, would seem without question, to favor the diffusionist position (which claims that pre-Columbian contacts took place). “

          Personally, I have an opinion at this point that the Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramid-building cultures were closely interlinked, as much so as being the sides of the same coin. However, unlike all of those who think that the connection was across the Atlantic, I think that it was over land, across the Bering Strait, and only in form of 1 or 2 expeditions, via China, although I have no evidence for that. It is only a speculation. I never investigated the subject sufficiently myself to have a firm conclusion that I could back up with evidence.

          Anyway, I find some odd faint linguistic link between the Mayan and Magyar language. Melody of the language and some words are similar enough to imply a distant connection. For instance ‘chillag’ means ‘star’ in Hungarian (Magyar) language, whereby the Yucatec Mayan Books of Chilam balam, translated as “secrets of the soothsayer” are effectively stories of their star-gazers, namely astrologers/astronomers. There also appears to be a link via ‘Tamana’ topography names that links the Hungary with the Mayans across Egypt, northern Africa, and also with the Dravidians. The Magyars are related linguistically to Finns, but genetically are essentially pure Slavs. It is their unique language that distinguishes them as a separate nation. Overall, this shows that the links between people are very complex, and hard to disentangle over the long time spans.

          1. CV, I have warned you before about walls of text. Please control yourself.
            Actually, the S.A. Wells paper you link to is found only in resource archives, general collections of papers that students might otherwise have trouble accessing. I could find no evidence of where, or even whether, it was ever formally published. The only information I could find about its source referenced Samuel A. Wells of Columbia State University, a notorious diploma mill that was shut down (and its founder prosecuted and jailed) at about the time this paper was written. If so, that is not a credible source. In any case, it is 20 years out of date. As for my links, I make a point of searching out reliable information that is not behind a paywall, out of courtesy to my readers–not everybody has JStor. The point I hoped you would take is that there are botanical sources in the Old World that would explain the traces in the “cocaine mummies.”

            1. One paragraph reply: I agree with your point on drug sources. This is a plausible explanation for the finds of Balaban. Now, the Well’s paper is neutral and simply gives a summary of arguments. The points is that it mentions the existence of two journals that specifically deal with the subject of ancient contacts. I haven’t looked into them, but their very existence (if they still exist) means that there are lots of arguments on the table. I briefly touched the linguistic issue, but there are others. Now, if it isn’t too much, I should add that I protest against your ban on walls of text. Please lift it. I like to engage in a lively debate occasionally, but that requires the use of words. Such debates usually produce new ideas and angles of views for everyone involved and I find that beneficial.

    3. Well it seems pretty clear from this link,


      that the programme is designed, in outline at least, to support the fight against pseudo-history and pseudo-archaeology.

      It is also a longstanding issue, and good to see that at least some of the papers relating to it are now available to read, free on-line, for those who have only a general interest in this subject. Two or three decades ago access to such would have been either extremely limited or beyond affordability, as so many more recent publications still are extortionately priced, including those from jstor highlighted in the links.

      Nevertheless, despite the importance of the cultural and social issues involved, the opportunity to present the counter argument as a result of the petition etcetera, also presents an opportunity for some to make a bit of income from selling publications such as some of the books advertised and future papers and articles (perhaps?). No doubt the current considerably more sophisticated and encyclopaedic web we now enjoy will help spread the message, both to the academic community for scholarly accuracy and the publishing circuits for profit, including this “advertisement” in The Lateral Truth – since this item doesn’t actually present any original evidence in support of “Support Your Local Olmec”.

      It’s a cynical way of looking at things perhaps, but one can’t escape the political and economic aspects to global life in our current era, particularly the importance of bona fide cultural identity and tourism linked to it.

      1. You’re being a little opaque, Richard. Are you trying to say that the Hijacking History website and petition are just out to sell their books and papers for profit? Uh, no. The money is in publishing pseudoarchaeological drivel, which sells very well. As for me, idealistic fool that I am, I write this blog for free.

      2. Note: the programme description you linked to was rapidly revised after the petition and letter-writing campaign took hold. The original did imply an African-Olmec association: “As detailed in the acclaimed museum exhibit, the African Presence in Mexico, our trip explores the African presence in Mexico in three different epochs; Olmec Culture, Colonial Slavery, and Contemporary Afromestizo Communities. UNM Faculty members Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman, Dr. Joseph Garcia, and Dr. Finnie D. Coleman join the University of Miami’s Dr. Cristine Arce and Dr. Sagrario Cruz from the Universidad Veracruzana to team teach a vibrant and important history – the history of people of African descent in Mexico. We will visit a number of Afromexican communities and historical locations associated with the slave trade in Veracruz. We will delve into the roots of Olmec culture, examine all but a few of the colossal Olmec heads of Los Tuxtlas, La Venta, and San Lorenzo de los Negros. Beyond our study of the African Presence in Mexico, we will also take advantage of many other cultural opportunities in and around the communities we are scheduled to visit. The majestic waterfalls at Eyipantla, the magnificent pyramids at Teotihuacan, the startling temples at Tajin, and the placid waters of Lake Catemaco are but a few of the incredible sites we will visit during this brief but impactful study abroad experience.” So, you see, the campaign seems to have had an effect.

    4. Not opaque at all Rebecca! Hence my last paragraph, “It’s a cynical way of looking at things perhaps…”. Unfortunately that’s the academic and political world we live in. The publishing houses screw academics left, right and centre in terms of restrictions on circulating their papers. Politicians make decisions about funding academia, and sponsorships from the business sector influence, if not dictate, resources available to competing academic disciplines. You just need to look at the difficult situation that archaeology is going through in the UK at present – where so many excavations rely on pre-development funding, and then the archaeological resource is destroyed. This prevents any return in the future, when new technologies could possibly have been able to extract new data for interpretation. Many pros and cons, and obviously a topic well beyond the scope of this item.

      So, no, I’m not throwing aspersions on the integrity of any of the parties – just the way it is. Many academics publish books and many of them reinvest the income in their discipline, and those that don’t is not something that I make any judgement on for or against. If it takes petitions to raise the profile of this subject, then that also is a sign of the times!

      But as CV points out, this route is hardly scientific, rather aspires to, rightly or wrongly, cultural emotion.

      My own interest in this context is the topic of diffusion. My initial degree was in the subjects of botany and zoology, and a significant part of my professional life involved dealing with ecology and biodiversity matters. As a part of my responsibilities I was required to read and report on scientific papers to a variety of decision making committees so I can safely claim that I am able to read, understand and make up my own mind about evidences presented such as:


      which relates to the issue of botanical sources on the topic of “cocaine mummies”, and published open-access at


    5. For what is worth, if one wishes to sail across the Atlantic, one has to follow the trade winds, which blow from Africa across the Canaries to the Caribbeans. Columbus went that way. However, the return path follows the Gulf Stream northward to Europe, ot to Africa. So, in light of that I wonder whether the linguistic link which I emphasized points to Finns/Magyars being the traders, not the Phoenicians, unless Finns and Phoenicians were working in cooperation, preserving their lucrative trade secrets and avenues for profit by keeping the route secret, and by trading in processed drugs, easy to carry, having high value, not plant seeds. The question then is what goods were transported by caravans across the northern Africa, or even better purchased on the western coast of Africa in order to be carried on the southern route and exchanged for drugs! Copper, perhaps ?
      A link to corroborate my words (not a reliable source, but not that bad either, check the map of villages): 5,800 Tamana toponyms found around the world: https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/was-tamana-universal-civilization-mankind-great-flood-006816

      1. CV and Richard – I’ll be happy to talk about all this stuff, but not now. This was not a full-blown blog post, just a notification about a petition and website I think should be promoted. You guys have gone seriously off-topic. I’ll cheerfully oblige you by doing a post on transoceanic contacts soon, but at the moment I’m fully engaged in writing something promised a couple of months ago, to a young man with some excellent questions. CV, you’re not limited to one paragraph – just one point at a time. Your walls of text actually make discussion more difficult. Cheers, guys.

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