[KS] Ancient Asiatic Scripts in America - a research report

Byington, Mark Edward byington at fas.harvard.edu
Wed Mar 8 13:24:23 EST 2017

Hello John,

Welcome to the list, though I should mention that things ancient are rarely addressed in this forum (not that there won’t be interest in the topic here).

Regarding your treatment, I will point out the obvious, that this is an extraordinary claim, which necessarily demands extraordinary evidence. My views of the claims you make are therefore those of a skeptic. I have not read your paper in depth, but I can mention a few questions that come immediately to mind (there are many others I won’t mention here).

First, if the dating of the petroglyphs is based on orthography, syntax (which I think is problematic - see below), and the patina (which I don’t think can be used as a basis for an absolute chronology), then I would ask why a (presumably Zhou) scribe of circa 500 BCE would be referring to a Shang ruler (Da Jia) who lived about a millennium earlier. That mode of referring to ancestors is a Shang practice, yet it is said to appear in this petroglyph five centuries after the fall of Shang.

Second, on the matter of syntax, your claim seems to be hobbled by the many other glyphs that are not identified as Sinitic in origin – since these appear interspersed among the glyphs you identify as Sinitic, any claim regarding syntax would be rendered problematic. I am somewhat familiar with the syntax of Shang divination records as well as Zhou bronze inscriptions, but I see no ready match here. If David Keightley thought otherwise, I would be interested in his response (which he cannot now provide himself, since he unfortunately passed away two weeks ago).

Third, even in circa 500 BCE literacy was still a highly specialized skill in Zhou China, so the unlikely event of a successful Zhou transpacific trip is rendered all the more unlikely if we assume that at least one of the passengers was literate. Not impossible, but it decreases the likelihood significantly. (This ignores the obvious question of why such a voyage would have been attempted in the first place.)

Fourth, I assume that your reason for posting on the Korean Studies list is to inquire as to the possibility of a Korean association with these petroglyphs. Your paper correctly notes that the use of Sinitic script did not develop in Korea until at least the Han period (more likely it was not in use until rather later than Han). But at no point was the use of Zhou-style (or earlier) writing in use in Korea. I will point out that you will have no problem at all in locating people in Korea who will tell you with conviction that not only did ancient Koreans probably discover the Americas, they moreover created Sinitic script, but I caution you not to assume any scholarly basis to these claims. Pseudohistory is rampant in Korea these days, now apparently with the approval of the South Korean government.

Lastly, I suspect that some of your claims are building upon the work of Menzies, whose arguments have, I believe, been thoroughly discredited on numerous levels. I refer you to the second chapter of R. H. Fritze’s “Invented Knowledge,” which describes the problems with this (and related) hypotheses quite clearly.

In short, the study of these petroglyphs is fascinating and worthwhile, but to advance the kinds of claims you are making (which require numerous leaps of faith), you would need to provide, at minimum, a more reliable basis for the chronology, a description of the larger cultural context in which these petroglyphs are found, an explanation for the unidentified glyphs, and any other evidence that may pertain, such as linguistic or genetic (these are active fields of debate in scholarship). I think it very unlikely that you will find the kind of evidence for transpacific crossings that will convince many specialists, though your research may well turn up other findings of value to other discussions.

Best Regards,

Mark Byington

From: Koreanstudies <koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com> on behalf of John <ruskampj at hotmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 11:04:19 AM
To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com
Subject: [KS] Ancient Asiatic Scripts in America - a research report


I recently joined and I find the discussions very informative.  Now I would like to share a short paper

detailing the presence of ancient Asiatic scripts written upon the rocks of Southwestern America with the members.

>From the style of these script characters, the syntax of the messages, and the level of weathering upon them

a date of about 2500 YBP is most reasonable.  A copy of this research report attached to this email.

Please note the following quote from the larger research manuscript Asiatic Echoes - The Identification of Ancient

Chinese Pictograms in pre-Columbian North American Rock Writing, 3rd edition to which this paper is the first supplemental report.

"While a number of authors have provided secondary evidence for early pre-Columbian visits by the Chinese to the Americas, it is equally possible that other Asiatic populations, such as the Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, who employ styles of writing derived from Chinese script, were responsible for at least some of these cultural exchanges."

This is my first attempt to post an item to the site. Any help you may be able to provide will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!
John A. Ruskamp, Ed.D., M.B.A.
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