With the advent of mt-DNA sequencing as a modern research tool, we can now be certain of some ancient migration patterns worldwide. Taking a look at the current maps that most agree are solid conservative assessments, it is interesting to look at different waves of migrations and which were made on foot and which were made by boat. It might seem like a pointless observation, but to me, as someone who is interested in the sacred symbols of ancient people, it matters. People who live by sea would have an entirely different relationship to the environment than those who are land locked. Their cosmologies would be vastly different, and therefore their symbols would evolve differently. So, it seems to me, if we can date some of the rock art (which is becoming increasingly possible with Cation-Ratio Dating of petroglyphs) we can begin to try to categorize the symbols and attribute them to different kinds of cosmologies that either match land people or sea people. And vice-versa. I’ve created a little chart for myself that helps me parse out a few details that may come in handy for future thought experiments like these.
THE FIRST OVERLANDERS (Haplogroups C and D)
Conservative assessments based on a general analysis of DNA show that less than 20,000 years ago (again, this is a conservative date, others would argue for tens of thousands of years earlier) people moved east from what is now central Russia, across the Bering land bridge into the North American continent. They marched to the middle of Canada then dropped straight down through the middle of United States, through Mexico and Central America, and then turned southeast along northern South America. A lot of these folks also took a turn east out of Canada toward the Great Lakes area and settled there. This would have been an overland migration made on foot.
THE FIRST SEAMEN (Haplogroup B)
12,000 to 15,000 years ago (again, some say this happened 15,000 to 35,000 years ago) people emerged from Eastern Asia, near the Yellow Sea, traveled north and west along the coast, again crossing near the Bering land bridge to North America then sailed down the west coast all the way to northwestern South America. Some of them got off the boat on the west coast of Baja California and marched across northern Mexico over to what we would call “the Deep South” along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. This would have been a migration of seafarers, even though many of the people ended up traveling by foot over to the Gulf of Mexico.
THE SECOND OVERLANDERS (Haplogroup A)
Between 7,000 to 9,000 years ago people migrated from the India, through China and Russia and again made a little journey over the Bering Sea. Again, they marched over to central Canada. Many stopped in the area that would be just over Montana and North Dakota, others headed east over near Hudson Bay, and some, again, marched right down the middle of North America, through Mexico and Central America, stopping in central South America. Again, this was an overland migration made on foot.
AND THEN THEY STIRRED THE POT
We can assume that after the first waves of migrations, people continued to migrate. The Hopi (descended from Proto-Uto-Aztecan language speakers) describe a world view that commands them to continually migrate a continual circuit as far north, south, east and west as possible, staying in no settlement longer than 16 years, and only permanently settling after completing these huge migrations many times. (The reason for this is so that the population will never become sedentary long enough to become corrupt and thus “destroy the world”. Does this sound like something we can relate to?) You can imagine the effect such continual migration would have on the population of the Americas. Over many generations there would be attrition of the clans. People would drop out and settle permanently starting little DNA factories of their own in far flung regions, but maintaining their symbolic cosmologies no matter how mismatched they may be to their current environment.
This kind of melange is the kind of thing linguists try to sort out. Uto-Aztecan is the primary ancient language family of the American Southwest. The Mexican languages began to develop from Proto-Uto-Aztecan more than 2500 years before the Numic and the Hopic languages started to develop. From there it took several hundred years more for there to be differentiation between the Paiute and Tubatulabal (both Numic) languages and the Cahuilla and Hopi (both Takic/Hopic) languages. Of course the same chart can be worked backward to find the origin of what all these groups have in common — the Proto Uto-Aztecan. To say it more simply, the Hopi language, for example, is at least 8,000 to 9,000 years newer than the language their paleolithic ancestors spoke on American soils. How long Proto-Uto-Aztecan language was spoken on the American continents (meaning “Which wave of migration brought this language type?”) is a question I would like someone to answer please.
AND TO COMPLICATE THINGS FURTHER
DNA sequencing of skulls found in South America that were here before the arrival of the Spanish show a significant population of people who did not come from any of the above mentioned migrations. The old guard says that throughout the millennia North and South America were isolated breeding grounds for haplogroups A,B,C, and D. Now it turns out that the Americas were also secretly breeding haplogroups from the Middle East and Europe which don’t show up on the conservative haplogroup migration maps that expect everyone in the Americas to have crossed the Bering straights. Nope.
The tantalizing question is “Where did those other haplogroups come from?” The obvious answer is, they sailed here. The more interesting question is WHEN? and what symbols did they bring to the Americas that became part of the rock art language we study today?
There is an archaeological site, the “Cerutti mastodon site”, near San Diego, CA that shows humans used tools on mastodon bones as far back as 130,000 years ago. (www.nature.com) Archaeological sites approaching 200,000 years old have been found in South America. These finds have trouble becoming universally accepted by mainstream establishment (although they are fast approaching that status) because they decimate the long accepted timeline of more recent human migration to the Americas.
It is fun to remain openminded and full of wonder at new, surprising information and not to balk at the exciting complications it introduces. In my view, crazy new pieces of information like “by the way, there were tons of middle easterners in South America way before we thought transoceanic travel was possible” gives us more ANSWERS than questions. It gives us a chance to knock ourselves on the head and say things like, “Well, THAT explains why Americans share step pyramid architecture technology with ancient Egypt.” The mystery helps solve itself if we follow new evidence presented by emerging technologies.