in An Introduction to the Study of Southwestern Archaeology, Eckholm and his asociates mentioned multiple probable transpacific contacts starting as early as the introduction of Pottery to South America from the Jomonic period of Japan as early as 3000 BC and then again intermittent cultural packages transmitted across the Pacific at later dates. One definite set of new traits seems to have been transmitted from Southeast Asia directly across the Pacific before 250 BC and there are reasons to say that it must have been established before 500 BC. The information was credited to Estrada and Meggers, 1961 and the traits included pottery neck-rests; pottery models of houses on stilts (piles) and with saddle-shaped roofs, seated figurines with their legs folded one on top of the other, pottery representations of sick patients tied to their beds, pottery ear-plugs, polished red pottery, pottery net-weights, stone and pottery pendants in the shape of boar's tusks and (from Thor Heyerdahl independantly) at least one instance of babyrusa (Celebes wild hog) tusks found in a Peruvian grave. associated with these traits may also be the use of the coolie-yoke, foot-plow, and graduated pan-pipes, possibly even the lost-wax method of copper or bronze casting and the use of batiks (resist-dyeing)
This exchange must have gone on before the general spread of the Dong-son brass drums as trade items in Indonesia and yet has distinct resemblances to some of the cultural items in use by the Dongson trade network and probably the Old Megalithic probably arising in (Tamil) Southern India originally. However this wave follows on an older and much more interesting cultural exchange which must have gone on between India in the wake of the collapse of Harappan or Indus-Valley Civilization and Mexico in the Preclassic period, where a whole array of identifiable Indian decorative traits superimposed itself on an older and quite separate Olmec tradition.
Indus Valley God and Goddess
Tlatilco is a village found in the environs of modern Mexico City and the culture that is characteristic of it. This culture had its heyday in the period somewhere between 1000 and 500 BC and it was the first known largescale settlement of the area. It is associaed with some large mound areas but these are not recognised as pyramids.
Tlatilco pottery is very highly developed and shares a good many themes and motifs characteristic of early India as mixed with local traditions. However little is known of the actual India of this period and so direct comparison is impossible to make between the two. The Tlatilco settlers seem to have been a bunch of very outgoing, cheerful, expressive, robust, sensuous and physically harmonious bunch-one imagines rather as if a bunch of out-of-work carnival and circus performers from India had come to Mexico as their retirement home. The Vedic Indians seem to have named the New World Uttarkuru (Far Kuru, possibly a corruption of Far Peru) and they might have been the ones to introduce the board game of parchisi (patolli) to Mexico.[Please see additional discussion at bottom]
Indus Valley Civilization is known for showing people assuming the postures similar to those known from Yoga. The Tlatilco terracotta figurines are also remarkable for the same reason.
I call pieces like these "Kama Sutra" Pieces
Tlatilco potters were probably most often women because of the size of the fingerprints they left in the clay. In Teotehuacan, male potters took over considerably later on and evidently under the theory that the potter's job had become more prestigious.
Several Tlatilco sculptures also feature musclemen and athletes.
Tlatilco Wrestler and Indian Wrestler.
I call this Tlatilco sculpture "Arnold"
Because of his obvious bicep-flexing pose
Tlatilco and Indus Civilzations also have absolutely comparable pottery stamps for marking designs on clay, fabric or on the skin.
This is an Indus Valley Seagoing vessel, presumably the sort of craft that would have made the long voyage.
The originating port in India would have been like this. The period we are talking about is after the end of the Indus civilization proper and before the beginning of the next recognisable period of Indian history, the Mauryan, but with resemblances to each of those periods. The artwork of those different eras do show some continuity but with an increaed Greek influence after the time of Alexander the Great. The Tlatilco period would have ended well before then.
Collared pecarry, native to the New World. Not exactly like Old World pigs, the disc on the end of the snout and their tusks are not so large
There is evidence that the Indian colonists that settled in the area of Mexico city to add their input into the Tlatilco culture brought with them chickens, pigs and dogs. They seem to have subsequently eaten up their chickens and pigs (this also happened on some of the islands of Polynesia in similar settlements made by the Polynesians) however the porrtery pigs represented by the Tlatilco culture are NOT peccaries, they have broader snouts and smoother coats. They more resemble domesticated breeds such as are known to have been raised in India.
The Indian dog breeds the colonists would have had dogs like the Pariah dogs of India. The Tlatilco colonists did not care if they were Pariah dogs, they obviously loved them anyway. Similar breeds of dogs still live in Mexico and even South America for that matter.
Indus Valley Terracotta, woman driving an Oxcart
The Indonesian area would be just experiencing a colonization by the Chola Tamils from Southern India, more important in much more recent times and not well represented in the BC days.
Indus Goddess Princess Leia with big side buns. Although not two-headed actually, you can see it is headed in that direction. About 3000 BC and typical of MUCH older Goddess figurines from the Mid-East and Africa (Nubia) except for the hairstyle.
Another Tlatilco comical figurine,
Tlatilco representation of The Mother Of Us All.
This is actually nicely executed, very detailed and expressive.
Another Maurya Empire Indian Woman shown as similar to Tlatilco
Tlatilco Woman wearing what looks like baggy pants. This could be a representation to the Traditional Indian garment known as a shalwar
The latest thing in shalwars.
Tlatilco representations are also notable for their frequent representations of turbans.
Some features of Tlatilco pottery are also similar to contemporaneous Japan, the late Jomon period. The Jomon period is very long and there are several different styles represented in the Jomon. This is a later type. rock art in Japan and attributed to the Jomonic also includes designs that have been attributed to Indus valley script. These designs are represented in several standard reference books on rock art, but the similarity to the Indus script is disputed. Such symbols also appear in rock art of Sumatra, where they are not so hotly disputed since it is known that Indus valley ships came to Sumatra for camphor, cardomom and other spices. Some of these trade items found their way into Ancient Egypt where they are noted in the papyrus texts.
Easter Island script engraved on a rongo-rongo board. Easter Islanders say that only the master scribes engraved on wood, the apprentices used banana leaves. The Wikipedia entry on rongo-rongo writing notes that some experts consider that the writing was originally ONLY on the banana leaves and that the rongo-rongo boards were designed to look like banana leaves, even including the ridges between the lines of writing which correspond to the veins on the banana leaf. Also of interest is the tradition that the Incas of Peru had not always been without writing-that they used to write codices like the Mayans did, but on banana leaves, and that during times of war and famine all of the old codices had been burnt up. This is scoffed at by experts saying there could have been no banana leaves then, but then again, Thor Heyerdahl points out that Archaeologists had legitimately reported items found in Peruvian graves wrapped in banana-leaves. Evidently banana leaves are preserved better in the Peruvian climate than would have otherwise seemed likely.
There has been an interestring observation made that several of the Indus Valley script characters are absolutely identical to the characters on the Rongo-rongo boards from Easter Island, with the exception that the ones from the Indus valley are engraved with one line and the ones from Easter Island are all engraved with double lines. This has frequently been presented in diffusionist literature and is remarked upon by Thor Heyerdahl in American Indians in the Pacific, as well by many other authors generally, even including Charles Berlitz. Several authors are puzzled by the fact that the two points are two oceans apart and it seems that there are no intermediate stops along the way to show how the Indus Valley script could have gotten to Easter Island.
Actually, it turns out that examples of the Indus-style scripts and even some of the succeding early Tamil scripts from South India appear in grafitti of South America. Verill and Verill in Old Civilisations of the New World speak of inscriptions in the 'Indus-Gangetic' script on a rock face 150 miles north of Cuzco , Peru, and another one like it in another location in Peru: similar signs have been found as grafitti on rock faces across Peru and even into Northern Argentina according to the researches of Bernardo da Silva Ramos (done for tthe Brazillian government but then denounced by the government for what his findings implied: the book was printed at private expense in 1939 as Inscripcioes e Traducioes da America Prehistorica) So that the Indus peoples and their successors (up to the time they started writing in Brahmi and other Indic alphabetical scripts) had indeed made repeated voyages to South America and it wold have been a simple matter for the Indus Valley script to come to Easter Island by way of Peru.
Some of the Tlatilco stamp-seals are known to have patterns on them corresponding to the later Mayan glyphs. Since the Tlatico culture came in during the Olmec period and in fact installed itself upon an Olmec-like background, the glyphs are of about Olmec age and are presumably related to the Olmec style of making the glyphs.
This is an illustration of the oldest known incription on stone written in Olmec glyphs, ancestors of the later Mayan glyphs. It is asserted by some that the glyphs are sometimes derived from Shang Chinese writing in some individual characters and alternatively that some experts see a resemblance to Indus Valley writing symbols. This information and several of the illustrations for this blog posting come from Wikipedia.
While doing research on this blog posting, I came upon the interesting assertion that the oldest Shang ideogramic characters from China were identical to some Indus Valley characters but written in a different orientation. This is interesting because it makes it much more likely that all the early Oriental enigmatic scripts are related and all are derived from a form of Sumerian writing (through Elamite script, supposedly the ancestor of the Indus Valley script) In the evolution of Sumerian characters to cuneiform, it is also known that the orientation was shifted 90 degrees at one point.
Patolli, the ancient game of the Aztecs, has traditionally been regarded as having the same ancestor as Pachisi (the Pachisi-Patolli theory). The argument were based on what seemed to be similar significant features between Pachisi and Patolli and that this game could not have been developed independently on opposite sides of the globe (diffusion). It was also an argument in favor for the highly controversial theory of pre-Columbian transpacific contact.
The following is all based on Lieve Verbeec's article "Bul: A Patolli game in Maya lowland" from 1998:
Before the Spanish Conquest many games of chance using beans or reeds as dice were widespread in Mesoamerica3. But no accurate description has been found of how these games were played (and many sources are contradictory). The Aztec board game of Patolli is still a riddle. But it is generally accepted that the Patolli boards are cosmological images.
Originally the term Patolli were only used to describe one specific Aztec game - played on a mat on which there was drawn a cruciform board with four black marked patolli beans as dice (marked with white dots). By now it is a generic term and labels any variant of the square, cruciform or circular game-boards drawn or incised on floors or benches of ancient buildings, or featuring in the multiple pre-colonial or early-colonial codices, as well as some of the the twentieth century games of chance that are assumed to be survivals or variants of the ancient game of Patolli.
Patolli has been labeled as a race game by the earlier board game historians. But as Verbeeck claims, it could just as well have been a war game. The earliest Spanish sources referred to both war and race games when they tried to describe Patolli and compared it with native Spanish games.
When and where the game of Patolli originated is not clear. It might have existed long before the Aztec period (- AD 1450). Archaeological sources says patolli boards occurred at least ten centuries ago, both in the Maya area as well as in Central Mexico.
As a result of a comparative study of four Mexican board games, Verbeeck found the following common characteristics and list the following tentative typology of the patolli games:
1 - the dice - the use of four two-sided lots which corresponds with the number and characteristics of the patol beans used in ancient times
2 - scoring method: every marked side counts one
3 - scoring method: the value of five for a throw of four identical lots (the number five had a symbolic religious value)
4 - team game (always played in two teams of equal numbers)
5 - capture by simple replacement
6 - the circuit - no matter the shape or length of the circuit, the teams have their own entrances on the board
7 - the circuit - the common part of the circuit, where capture is the object of both teams
This typology includes both race games and war games. In both types the opponents have to run a circuit. The difference between the two types of games actually only lies in the fact that in the latter games the opponents' counters are not returned to let them enter the circuit again. So the generic term patolli labels both race and war games of Mesoamerican origin.
"Still, the question whether the famous Aztec patolli, the "game of mat" was a race game or a war game, remains an intriguing one." (pg. 97)
Bul (buul, boolk, puluc)
The Mayan game Bul (as played today in Belize) is a modern variant of Patolli. It is a social ceremonial joyful game. Male farmers play Bul before planting their corn in the spring ("play corn"). Win or loose don't matter, it is only important that the corn, which is going to be planted the next day, should be surrounded by bright joyfulness the night before it will go down into the "dark earth".
Played with any even numbers of players above six, in two teams, board marked by twenty grain of floor (corn) in a straight line (continuous circuits). It is played as an war game. The players use a four corn-dice (called bul). The captives keep on accompanying their captors on the circuit and consequently may expect their chances of retakes and liberation.
The Maya board game Bul is a survival or modern variant of the ancient patolli games. It's date of origin or how it was originally played is impossible to know.
1. Originally by Tylor, E. B.: The game of Patolli in Ancient Mexico, and its probably Asiatic origin. In: Journal of the Anthropological institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 8 (1878), pp. 116-131
2. Parlett, 1999, pg. 54
3. Meso-america: The pre-Columbian culture area where different native American people shared common cultural traits. Northern frontier (at it's peak): Rio Grande and southern frontier: east of Nicoya in Costa Rica (Verbeeck, p. 99)
- Parlett, David: The Oxford history of Board Games, Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0-19-212998-8
- Verbeeck, Lieve: Bul: a Patolli game in Maya lowland, p. 83-100. In: Board game studies: international journal for the study of board games, Leiden: Research School CNWS, 1998
Possible Patolli Game carved in stone, Found near the Pyramids of Teotihuacan
Codex Florentinus Illustration of Patolli Game
Playing Pachisi, Lucknow in 1790
Wikipedia-Real Pachisi Board from India
Vedic Diagram of World-Jambu Dwipa (Dwipa=Continent) represents India and Meru represents Tibet, supposedly also the North Pole. On the far side past the North Pole is Uttar Kuru (Far Kuru) which could represent the New World.