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article imageEast Asia traded with New World 1,000 years before Columbus

By Stephen Morgan     Apr 18, 2015 in Science
Artifacts found in Alaska confirm that East Asians from China, Korea and Yakutia traded with North Americans a thousand years before Columbus arrived.
The Archeology website reports that,
"Bronze and obsidian artifacts discovered in a dwelling at Alaska’s Rising Whale site bolster the idea that there had been a trading relationship between the New World and East Asia 1,000 years ago."
Preliminary radiocarbon dating indicates that a bronze buckle or fastener found by archeologists was made around A.D. 600, including another bronze artifact, which may have been a whistle. They were found in a one-thousand year old house in Cape Espenberg.
Buckle from Asia found in Cape Espenberg  Alaska
Buckle from Asia found in Cape Espenberg, Alaska
Jeremy Foln University Calafornia Davis
Since bronze working wasn't developed in Alaska at that time, it is clear that it came from the more developed civilizations of China, Korea and northern Siberia.
The chemical signature of obsidian also found in the house — a dark glass mineral used for arrow heads — shows that it comes from the Anadyr River Valley in north-eastern Russia.
Furthermore, the Chinese were known to value walrus ivory from the Bering Straits and it was probably exchanged for Chinese goods. Some of the ivory has been found as far away as Western Asia.
Plate armor — some made of iron — was also found in Cape Espenberg, which is very similar to that worn in China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia at the time.
The Mail Online quotes Owen Mason, a research associate at the University of Colorado, who said,
"There is no evidence for the smelting, casting, or alloying of metals in the Western Hemisphere north of Mexico prior to the arrival of Europeans."
"As a result, these two artifacts give the best and least ambiguous evidence to date that non-ferrous industrial smelted metals were arriving in Alaska via prehistoric trade across the Bering Strait."
According to Live Science, Cape Espenberg in Alaska may have been populated by members of the “Birnirk” people who lived on both sides of the Bering Strait.
Cape Espenberg
Cape Espenberg
Google maps
The Birnirk people were known to use quite sophisticated boats and DNA markers from genetic studies of local peoples show that East Asian people arrived in North America in several waves after the land bridge between the two continents was flooded.
The Birnirk people are ancestors of the "Thule," who then emigrated across arctic regions of North American and on to Greenland, and they are the ancestors of modern-day Inuits.
The finds in Alaska reinforce other evidence showing that Columbus wasn't the first to discover the Americas. As Live Science points out,
"The Bering Strait wasn't the only area where interactions between people from the Old World and New World occurred before Columbus' arrival. By 1,000 years ago, the Vikings had explored parts of Canada and had even established a short-lived settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland."
"Research also indicates that, around this time, the Polynesians had reached South America, bringing sweet potatoes back to Polynesia and possibly bringing chickens to South America."
The researchers will present their findings to the Canadian Archaeological Association annual meeting later this month.
More about east Asia, Trade, North America, New world, Thousands
 
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