Blasphemous Theories About the First Americans

You shall only speak Clovis

The South wasn’t lying

Let’s go back a few years. In the 1970s, an archaeologist called Tom Dillehay from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, uncovered the remains of a large campsite in southern Chile. Through radiocarbon dating on the wood and other organic remains found in the site, he determined the site was 14,600 years old. This is 1000 years before the first Clovis tools, but Dillehay had to wait twenty years for someone else to re-examine the site and accept his dating.

(Not so) Blasphemous Theory #1: Down the coast by feet

(More) Blasphemous Theory #2: From Asia by boat

(Incredibly not so) Blasphemous Theory #3: From Australia!

More evidence for a wacky world scenario

If these potentially complicated migration patterns don’t do it for you yet, here are some stranger theories around a more fluid world scenario. Read with caution!

  • The sweet potato, which is native to the Americas, was widespread in Polynesia when Europeans first reached the Pacific. It has been suggested that it was brought by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, or that South Americans brought it to the Pacific.
  • A 2013 genetic study suggests the possibility of contact between Ecuador and East Asia. The study suggests that the contact could have been trans-oceanic or a late-stage coastal migration that did not leave genetic imprints in North America. This contact could explain the alleged similarity between the pottery of the Valdivia culture of Ecuador and the Jōmon culture of Northeast Asia.
  • The existence of chicken bones dating from 1321 to 1407 in Chile and thought to be genetically linked to South Pacific Island chicken species suggested further evidence of South Pacific contact with South America.
  • A team of academics headed by the University of York’s Mummy Research Group and BioArch, while examining a Peruvian mummy at the Bolton Museum, found that it had been embalmed using a tree resin. The resin was from an Araucaria conifer related to the ‘monkey puzzle tree’, a variety found only in Oceania and New Guinea.
  • Smithsonian archaeologist Betty Meggers wrote that pottery associated with the Valdivia culture of coastal Ecuador dated to 3000–1500 BCE exhibited similarities to pottery produced during the Jōmon period in Japan, arguing that contact between the two cultures might explain the similarities. Alaskan anthropologist Nancy Yaw Davis claims that the Zuni people of New Mexico exhibit linguistic and cultural similarities to the Japanese.
  • Proposed claims for an African presence in Mesoamerica stem from attributes of the Olmec culture, the presence of an African plant species in the Americas, and interpretations of certain European and Arabic historical accounts.



Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at

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Yisela Alvarez Trentini

Yisela Alvarez Trentini

Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at