Academic journal article Comparative Civilizations Review

Advanced Civilizations of Prehistoric America: The Lost Kingdoms of the Adena, Hopewell, Mississippians and Anasazi

Academic journal article Comparative Civilizations Review

Advanced Civilizations of Prehistoric America: The Lost Kingdoms of the Adena, Hopewell, Mississippians and Anasazi

Article excerpt

Frank Joseph, Advanced Civilizations of Prehistoric America: The Lost Kingdoms of the Adena, Hopewell, Mississippians and Anasazi Bear & Company, 2009.

First, let me confess that this is a very serious look by a dedicated author that I cannot competently assess. It is a comprehensive but affirmably "unconventional" prehistory that makes a number of claims about the four groups or tribes examined in detail. Those claims are very interesting, but many are new to me. Thus it requires a real expert on Native American cultures, which I am not. Several examples will follow briskly.

What I can do is faithfully describe Joseph's allegations and affirm that he has done a yeoman's job of providing evidence to support them, including classic archaeology but also comparative linguistics between Gaelic and Algonquian (a Plains Indian tribe) and Zuni Indian compared with Japanese. I know none of these languages.

Second, one of Joseph's main theses is that each of these civilizations was animated by infusions of outsiders coming to North America, clashing, merging and no doubt interbreeding with native peoples of longer standing here (usually) building varieties of monumental architecture, and then each disappearing in their turn. Appendix I provides a simple timeline that helps make some sense of his claims.

Joseph thinks that Celtic peoples migrated west from the British Isles and Ireland around 1000 BCE to create what modern archaeologists call the "Adena" who introduced agriculture, astronomy, iron-working, road building and monumental architecture. He claims they were refreshed by continuing migrations over long times.

He also thinks that Japanese seafarers known as the Munakata arrived on America's Pacific Northwest around 300 BCE, but then moved to the Midwest. That is a daunting journey under any circumstances. There Joseph thinks they made common cause with surviving Adena against threatening tribes of native peoples, ultimately developing huge ceremonial centers. The resulting culture is known as the "Hopewell" today. By 400 CE the Hopewell were killed off and, Joseph alleges, around 700 CE the last of the Adena died in battles in Kentucky.

Around 900 CE, Joseph thinks the Mayans abandoned Yucatan and Central America following dictates of their sacred calendar, some relocating to Illinois and Eastern Missouri where they built the megalopolis of Cahokia and the Mississippian culture. …

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