Filed in History

Sailing to Fusang

Did a Buddhist Monk "Discover" the New World?Rick Fields

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The quincentenary of Christopher Columbus' voyage has inspired a welcome re-visioning of that momentous and cataclysmic event. Nowadays, none but the most myopically Eurocentric embrace the myth that Columbus "discovered" America in 1492. That feat, we now know, was accomplished tens of thousands of years ago by small bands of explorers—the ancestors of Native Americans—who crossed over the Bering Strait into the Western hemisphere. In turn, they were followed by a motley crew, some possibly real, some probably not, which included Japanese fishermen landing in Peru around 3000 B.C.E.; Jews finding refuge from Roman persecution during the first century C.E. in what is called today the Tennessee River Valley; the Irish monk Saint Brendan reaching America in a curragh, or skin boat, some time in the sixth century; Leif Eriksson visiting Newfoundland and Nova Scotia circa the year 1000, followed by the Welsh Prince Madoc in the twelfth century.

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