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The origins of the first Canary Islanders is a mystery. When the Roman author and military officer Pliny the Elder wrote of an expedition to the islands he mentioned ruins of grand buildings, but nothing of the islands’ inhabitants. Perhaps inscriptions left by the ancient locals will tell something of their story?
Before beginning this article, it is important to remember: The Canary Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. It is also important to note that the Guanches are a mysterious people who were sold into slavery and/or absorbed by the Spanish.
Antonio Arnaiz-Villena of the University Complutense’s School of Medicine in Madrid, Spain believes that the ancient Iberians were Celts. Using Herodotus’ ‘Histories’, Dr. Arnaiz-Villena argues that the Celts (Keltoi) originated in Iberia; and the city of Pyrene in the country of Celts (Keltoi) mentioned by Herodutus was the Pyrenees Mountains, which he quoted as “the city of Pyrene”. This suggests that the Guanches may be descendants of the Celts.
- The Mystery of the Guanches and the Pyramids of Tenerife
- A Unique Form of Ancient Communication: The Whistling Island of La Gomera
- Mysterious GodSelf Icon Found Worldwide: Lost Symbol of an Ancient Global Religion?
Representation of Celts. ( The West’s Darkest Hour )
Who Were the First Canary Islanders?
Numerous inscriptions have been found in the Canary Islands. These inscriptions have been found on the Islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. They may have been written by the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands. The writing system is called IBERO-GUANCHE.
Examples and possible translations of Iberian-Guanche inscriptions from Fuerteventura. (Iberomesornix/ CC BY 3.0 )
The origin of the Canary Islanders is a mystery. Some people believe the Guanches may have migrated from North Africa and the Sahara and moved onto the Canary Islands and into Iberia as the Sahara became arid.
Arnaiz-Villena and Alonso-Garcia believe that fishermen from Cadiz, a Spanish city situated near the Gibraltar Strait, may have left the inscriptions on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. They base this conclusion on two points: Plutarch, and fishing near the Islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
Guanches on Tenerife. (R. Liebau/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
In his book ‘ Parallel Lives’, the Philosopher Plutarch discussed the Roman-Iberian commander Sertorius’ report that two fishermen of Cadiz noted that abundant fishing could be found on islands near Africa. Researchers believe that Iberians may have been talking about Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the birth zone for tuna fish, which was a major item in the Cadiz fishing industry.
Understanding the Inscriptions
In 1980, 280 inscriptions were found on the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Most of these inscriptions were found on Fuerteventura.
Researchers claim the Canary Inscriptions are “Latin Inscriptions” and “ Libyco-Berber Inscriptions ”. As a result, they hypothesize the inscriptions were probably written in the Iberian (and Libyco-Berber) language. These inscriptions are often associated with pyramids on the Canary Islands (according to Arnaiz-Villena.)
Lanzarote Iberian inscription. (Author provided)
The Iberian language is classified as Basque. It is a member of the Usko-Mediterranean language Superfamily, and is included among the Dene Caucasian language family.
The Iberian script dates to 800 BC. Iberian inscriptions were written up to 300 AD, and were used in Sardinia, Iberia, and Southern France. Some researchers believe the inscriptions were written by Iberian fishermen, but researchers such as Arnaiz-Villena believe that Africans had also migrated to the Canary Islands because the Iberian texts are often found beside Libyco-Berber inscriptions.
- Floating Islands Seen at Sea: Myth and Reality
- World’s Oldest Slave Cemetery May Have Been Found
- Ancient Cave in Spain reveals advanced astronomical knowledge of inhabitants
Prehistoric rock art, Libyco-berber inscriptions: Foum Chena/ Tinzouline - Zagora, valley of the River Draa, Morocco.
Arnaiz-Villena and Alonso García have identified the Guanche inscriptions as Latin inscriptions. They have translated the inscriptions based on the Usko-Mediterranean languages. The translation of the Guanche Inscriptions show that they were funerary inscriptions or had a religious theme. They call this writing IBERO-GUANCHE writing.
In summary, the Canary Island inscriptions were probably written by Iberians and North Africans. As a result, the Guanche inscriptions are not found in isolation. The IBERO-GUANCHE inscriptions are usually engraved on rocks or in caves associated with the ancient Libyco-Berber inscriptions. Moreover, the Canary Island pyramids resemble Tenerife Island pyramids discovered by Thor Heyerdhal.
Pyramids of Güímar, Tenerife.
Columbus, Indians, and the GuanchesLearn more in my book The Race to the New World
When Christopher Columbus strode ashore in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, he famously called the indigenous people he met “Indians.” The main talking points of his legacy are still the consequences of his arrival for the people who bear that incongruous label: millions would suffer and die, and cultures would struggle to endure the coming waves of the European invasion. We recall as well that on first glance Columbus thought the people of the Bahamas might make good Christians, but also good slaves. It is also about time that we considered more closely his remark, as he approvingly sized up their physiques, that these people resembled Canary Islanders. Because it was in those Atlantic islands off the coast of north Africa, which Columbus and his three ships had departed in early September, that the Imperial machinery of which he was one prominent cog was already consuming another people. The same individuals supporting and funding Columbus on his voyage were also turning the Canary Islands into sugar plantations and enslaving the local people, the Guanches.
Columbus didn’t sail only to prove a better route to the spice islands, but likely as an advance party to support a new phase of conquest of the Canaries. Only when the assault was ready to hit the beach of Tazacorte on La Palma would he strike out west to see if there was yet more wealth to be had from the Indies’ riches for the same circle of financiers. The course Columbus steered followed the money trail to the Canaries and then extended it far beyond, to unimagined opportunities and horrendous consequences.
The references to his Genoese character are so rife among contemporaries, including people who knew him personally, that we need to move on where his “real” nationality is concerned. Instead we have to appreciate how entwined this Genoese was in the maritime commerce of the Atlantic realm funded by fellow Genoese as well as Florentine merchants based in southern Spain. He had found his way initially into the Portuguese Atlantic realm as a representative for prominent Genoese merchant families. There were also Genoese in prominent positions in the Spanish court bureaucracy, including the treasurer of the old kingdom of Seville.
It’s no secret that Columbus borrowed the money for the charter of his flagship, the Santa Maria, from a Florentine slaver in Seville named Gianotto Berardi. Far less appreciated is the fact that as Columbus departed Spain in August 1492 on his celebrated voyage, Berardi was putting up part of the money for a privatized Spanish conquest of one of the holdout Canary Islands, La Palma. A fellow financier of that campaign was a Genoese merchant in Seville named Francesco de Riberol, who probably had met Columbus by then and would become one of his main financial backers. There were other connections, too. Queen Isabel’s accountant promoted both the Canaries conquest and Columbus’s scheme. So did the Genoese treasurer of her old kingdom of Castile, and his nephew would serve as treasurer of the Indies enterprise at Seville.
Never mind notions of spreading Christianity to the benighted of the world, or pursuing humanity’s insatiable love of adventure: money, then as now, sought fresh opportunity, and where opportunities were not at hand, they needed to be created. This was a seamless world of Italian merchants and financiers, Spanish court officials, and mercenary adventurers bent on extending the Spanish realm and making everyone rich in the process. Conquest and the exploitation of new trade routes were what the churn of capital demanded. Columbus sailed out of an Old World that was at that moment focused on a fresh round of subjugation, and he ended up exporting its sensibilities to the New World that he did find.
But not before he paused in the new theatre of conquest. Columbus and his little fleet lingered in the Canaries for about a month. We don’t know much about what he was up to, beyond having repairs and modifications made to the Pinta on Gran Canaria while he bided time about 100 miles to the west, on Gomera. But Gomera happened to be right next door to doomed La Palma. The invasion, which was under way no later than late September, was gathering logistical steam at this time, hiring foot soldiers on both Gran Canaria and Gomera in preparation for the amphibious assault by about 900 men.
A month was a long time for a voyage commander like Columbus to have lingered in the archipelago, with some ninety men and three ships on two different islands a day’s sail apart, consuming supplies all the while. He was fortunate to even have a flotilla by the time he hoisted sails again. One tradition has it that he was holed up with an old lover, Beatriz de Bobadilla, the governess of Gomera. But a passionate tryst is a suspect explanation for why someone who had spent about a decade trying to find backing for his voyage scheme shed his forward momentum so soon after finally getting under way with a royal commission. We can do better. That he was fulfilling an advance role for the La Palma invasion on behalf of his current financier, Berardi, and his future financier, Riberol, is well worth considering.
Columbus then took with him to the New World not only a ship funded by Berardi, but a slave merchant’s sensibilities. They were on display as he cast a predatory gaze on the people of the Bahamas and wondered if these folks who looked like Canary Islanders would make good Christians or chattel labor. By the time he returned to Spain in the spring of 1493, the La Palma conquest was in its final, bloody throes. Its partners turned to conquering the last island holdout, Tenerife. Columbus for his part sailed back to the discoveries he claimed were on the perimeter of Asia, smarting from the debts he still owed Berardi over the Santa Maria charter. He’d lost the ship on the north coast of Espanola on the first voyage on the second voyage, he turned that island into a branch operation of the Canaries by mounting a scorched-earth military campaign against the Arawaks who resisted his authority.
When Columbus began rounding up Arawaks, terrified women dropped their infants on the ground and fled into the forest. Some 500 prisoners were sent home—about 200 died on route—to be sold in the slave market of Seville to address his Berardi debt. Alonso de Lugo, the third partner and the military commander in the Canaries venture, tried doing exactly the same thing with Guanche prisoner to address his own personal debts.
Queen Isabel halted the Columbus slave sale. The papal authority that granted Spain the right to Columbus’s discoveries was predicated on the notion of spreading Christianity to the heathen, not on sending the heathen back to Spain as a bulk commodity. But the machinery of conquest chugged on, in both theatres. Tenerife finally succumbed in 1497, and the Spanish found ways to essentially enslave indigenous people in the New World with the encomienda system of enforced labor.
The Canaries were too lucrative to be considered a mere dress rehearsal for the New World’s conquest—and the New World was not even supposed to be in the way of Columbus’s proposed shortcut to Asia’s wealth. But the New World nevertheless was a lucrative spinoff of the subjugation that Columbus’s partners and court supporters tested and proved in the Canaries, where merchant capital of Columbus’s fellow Genoese flooded into the plantation economy. And when Columbus’s discoveries proved to lack trade opportunities with Asia, and to be not quite so bountiful in gold as he’d promised, sugar cane cuttings and the commercial logic behind miserable human labor were imported from the Canaries, to be planted in fertile soil.
Only the inconvenient papal prescription that these heathen were to be converted, and not immediately hacked down or enslaved, slowed the initial grind of the machine. Other nations came forward, eager to operate the machine in the New World with their own sources of capital, and they found ways to categorize people they encountered as irredeemable, incorrigible, or not worth saving. Columbus may have called the people of the New World “Indians,” but really, they were all Guanches.
La recherche sur l’art rupestre, les inscriptions libyco-berbères et la colonisation des Îles Canaries, dans le contexte nord-africain, présente de nombreux problèmes dès les débuts de l’archéologie canarienne dans le xixe siècle. L’article examine donc l’évolution des recherches sur les figurations rupestres et sur les inscriptions libyco-berbères des Îles Canaries dans une perspective historique et diachronique, et développe une nouvelle thèse concernant l’origine de l’écriture libyco-berbère, basée sur de nouvelles découvertes d’inscriptions sur les îles et au Maroc. En considération de cette nouvelle thèse, nous proposons une hypothèse diachronique pour l’ancienne colonisation des Îles Canaries.
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It is one of the great ironies of history that many of the most famous explorers did not come from the countries under whose flag they sailed. This was true both of Spain's most famous explorer, the Italian Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), and of its first, the Frenchmen Jean de Béthencourt (c. 1360-1422) and Gadifer de La Salle (fl. c. 1340-1415). Indeed, Béthencourt was not even, strictly speaking, French: a Norman, he was a descendant of the Vikings who gave their name to the Normandy region of France after they invaded it late in the ninth century. Béthencourt and Gadifer were adventurers—the latter had won acclaim as a soldier during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) against the English—and met on a crusade against the Muslim stronghold at Tunis in North Africa in 1390. The two struck up a friendship, and in time hatched a plan of making an expedition to the Canaries, an undertaking Béthencourt promised to finance.
They and their crew set sail from La Rochelle, France, on May 1, 1402, and arrived in the Canaries the following month. Not long afterward, Béthencourt, his own resources exhausted, returned to Europe for financing. He sought royal help, though not from his own king—France would not take an interest in exploration for some two centuries—but from Henry III (r. 1390-1406) in Spain.
The latter ruled Castile, most powerful of the Christian kingdoms that had long been engaged in a war to wrest the Iberian peninsula from the Muslims who had controlled it for nearly seven centuries. By 1402 the Christians were well on their way to complete victory, and as Spanish confidence grew, so did Spain's interest in the outside world. Henry had sent ambassadors as far away as the court of Tamerlane or Timur the Lame (1336-1405) in Persia, and thus when Béthencourt came to Henry with a proposal for the financing of an expedition to the Canaries, he found a ready audience.
Henry, in fact, declared Béthencourt "king of the Canary Islands," and the antipope Benedict XIII issued a papal bull bestowing his blessings on the Spanish conquest of the Canaries. The elevation of Béthencourt to a king, albeit a vassal, understandably angered Gadifer, who learned of the fact upon Béthencourt's return to the Canaries some 18 months after his departure. By then Gadifer had undertaken much of the difficult work of subduing the islands from his base on Gomera, overpowering the technologically primitive Guanches and putting Norman peasants to work as colonists. Gadifer demanded that Béthencourt go with him to seek arbitration from Henry III, who—again, not surprisingly—decided in Béthencourt's favor.
Gadifer went home to France, and presumably the two conquerors never saw one another again. Béthencourt himself did not remain long in the Canaries: after adopting the use of Norman colonists as pioneered by Gadifer, he placed his nephew, Maciot de Béthencourt, in charge of the islands, and in 1406 returned to France. There he died 16 years later.
By the time of Béthencourt's death, the Canaries had become the site of a colonial struggle—in fact, the first in a series of such conflicts among modern European nations, engagements that would culminate in World War I five centuries later. In this case the combatants were Spain and the second emerging European colonial power, Portugal. The latter invaded the islands in 1420, and in 1425 began half a century of dominance over the Canaries. Meanwhile Spain in 1469 united under the dual monarchy of Aragon's Ferdinand II (1452-1516) and Castile's Isabella I (1451—1504), who fought a four-year war with Portugal beginning in 1475. Included among the terms of a 1479 treaty was Portuguese recognition of Spanish sovereignty over the Canaries. Seventeen years later, in 1496, the Spanish destroyed the last Guanche stronghold.
When Columbus set out on his first voyage to the New World, he stopped at the Canaries, where his ships underwent repairs and took on provisions. Columbus would use the Canaries as a launchpad for his other three voyages, and the islands became an important staging point for other explorers. In 1584, for instance, English settlers passed by them on their way to the founding of the Roanoke Island colony in Virginia. In 1936 the islands became a staging-point of quite a different kind, when Generalissimo Francisco Franco used them as the initial base for his Nationalist revolt in the Spanish Civil War.
HUMAN SACRIFICES, PYRAMIDS, & MUMMIES
That old chestnut about sacrificing a virgin to the volcano to appease the gods, the Guanches of Tenerife have got you covered!
Numerous caves throughout the island have been found to have been sacrificial chambers for both people and animals.
Alters, idols, and symbols along with bones all included.
Not only that but throughout this large Canary Island you can find pyramids. That’s right, real stone pyramids. They may not be as massive as those ones over in Egypt but non the less the Guanche people possessed the knowledge of geometry, physics, and architecture to accomplish this.
What would a pyramid be without a classic mummy inside though right? The Guanches would mummify nearly everyone it seemed. Still today off the coast of Santa Cruz, Tenerife there is a vertical rock with a nearly unreachable cave filled with mummified remains!
[A Studio Lite does not encourage grave robbing or the disturbing of mummies, be cool, don’t release ancient curses upon the world.]
For what they were. we are
I used publicly available datasets to perform these ADMIXTURE exercises.
The first one contains a combined dataset of populations from both the 1000 genome project and HGDP unrelated samples, for a total of 162,645 SNPs. It has been filtered and re-arranged by its contributors who are Peter Carbonetto and Amir Kermany.
It belongs to the Ancestry DNA workshop on Github.com.
All the repositories can be accessed here: https://github.com/Ancestry
It was publicly available until a year ago and was utilized during the Computational, Evolutionary and Human Genomics (CEHG) Symposium.
The PUR (Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico), IBS (Iberians from Iberia), the Maya and The Yoruba samples were selected from this dataset.
The second dataset is from the Henn et al. study from 2012, “Genomic Ancestry of North Africans Supports Back-to-Africa Migrations.” It contains the North African samples that I used for the exercises. I merged them with the dataset that contains the PUR samples, and intersected 44,804 SNPs.
The third dataset is from the Botigué et al. study from 2013, “Gene flow from North Africa contributes to differential human genetic diversity in Southern Europe.”
It has Spain_S (Andalucians), Spain_NW (Galacians), and Canary Islanders. I also intersected 44,804 SNPs with the first and the main datasets.
I used the software PLINK to update the physical and genetic positions of the SNPs from the second and third dataset, in order to properly merge them with the ones from the first dataset. I also made sure to merge only SNPs that were already found in the selected dataset (1000 genome and HGDP).
Lastly, I intersected my personal data with the dataset (1000 genome and HGDP), for a total of 161,764 SNPs.
The software ADMIXTURE was used to estimate ancestry.
R was used to plot the estimates.
Update (Oct 30th):
I would like to briefly elaborate on the sampling strategy. The first ADMIXTURE runs that I produced contained additional continental European populations, as well as other West Asian samples. The display showing the distinctive ADMIXTURE coded colors between North African and European samples of the dataset appeared at higher K values, with their respective higher standard errors of the cross-validation error estimate.
I had asked for Maju’s insight on admixture analyses in the past, as I was interested in how his posts on West African and Berber genetics related to my personal autosomal DNA. I did the same for this analysis.
I followed Maju’s recommendations to limit the selection of the reference population to be analyzed to just 4: Iberians, West Africans, Mayans, and Northwest Africans. This resulted in the clear and distinctive display of Berber and Iberian components, starting at K=4 which has a lower standard error. I later added Canary Islander samples.
Note: I have also been asked to replace Yoruba with Senegambian Mandinka samples to check for potential differences. This is something that I had already checked, but I didn't notice any difference in either the Berber percentage in Puerto Ricans or in their homogenization, which indicated a recent founder effect.
Update March 14th 2019:
After this article was posted last October, I received a lot of interesting feedback on the admixture analyses and suggestions for different ancestral contributions of Hispanic Caribbeans, both in private messages and in the comment section of this post/both publicly and privately. In light of this, I would like to go over some aspects of the analysis again.
A note of caution in the interpretation of estimates
The estimates of the clusters from ADMIXTURE are not to be interpreted literally. The different ancestral k components are not “real” populations. They are designed to help identify differentiation between populations.
Intuitively, it seems that analyses which contain populations or clusters that are separated with higher FSTs will be more robust. It also seems that when FSTs fall below 0.05, the degree of differentiation in the displayed clusters is difficult to evaluate or make sense of. This may explain why analyses of intra-European/Mediterranean populations with FSTs that are around 0.01 are difficult to evaluate with ADMIXTURE. Other steps can be taken to mitigate the effects of linkage disequilibrium, as was the case for the dataset that was used for the analysis in this post.
ADMIXTURE works better for recently admixed groups who derive their ancestry from distinct populations. For obvious historical reasons, African Americans and Hispanic Americans have recent ancestries that most admixture analyses can detect fairly well.
Evidently, the total complexity and chaotic processes of ancient migrations which are not static, but rather dynamic cannot realistically be captured by ADMIXTURE. The complete reconstruction of such patterns on the basis of present-day populations would obviously be misleading.
Daniel J. Lawson, Lucy van Dorp and Daniel Falush wrote a paper called, “A tutorial on how (not) to over-interpret STRUCTURE/ADMIXTURE bar plots” (2018) in which they warned against some of the pitfalls of admixture analyses.
While it’s not possible to make exact predictions from tools that are used in the field of population genetics, when interpreted correctly, some interesting information can still be extracted from various analyses.
Considering that the paper from Moreno et al. didn’t have North African samples, the focus of this post was to explore potential variations by including Northwest African samples such as Moroccans and Saharawis.
Naturally, to exactly what extent inhabitants of the Canary Islands – whose gene pool could have already been affected by the DNA of Iberian settlers - may have impacted the genetic pool of Hispanic Caribbeans is a question which would require further and more diversified analyses.
Several studies have reported mtDNA L(xM,N) among various Latin American communities. They strongly suggest recent African ancestry in the context of the recent colonization of the New World. The uncommon L(xM,N) lineages that have formed variant specific subclades which are not native to Africa but rather found in other continents or regions are extremely rare, it seems.
In 2012 Cerezo et al. published a paper on subject which is titled, “Reconstructing ancient mitochondrial DNA links between Africa and Europe.”
Another study, published by Ricardo Rodriguez-Varela and his colleagues, is called “Genomic Analyses of Pre-European Conquest Human Remains from the Canary Islands Reveal Close Affinity to Modern North Africans.”
More recently, a paper called “Mitogenomes illuminate the origin and migration patterns of the indigenous people of the Canary Islands” was published by Rosa Fregel with the mtDNA sequencing of 48 ancient individuals. Out of all of the L(xM,N) lineages that were analyzed, only the newly defined L3b1a12 was identified as a new Canarian-specific lineage.
It appears that European and Canarian autochthonous mtDNAL(xM,N) lineages form subclades which correspond to specific mutations that are less likely to be found in Africa.
In the case of Puerto Ricans, there was a project from National Geographic called “Genographic Project DNA Results Reveal Details of Puerto Rican History” (2014). After sampling 326 individuals from southeastern Puerto Rico and Vieques, they found that 80% of Puerto Rican men carry West Eurasian (or European) Y-DNA paternal lineages, while 60% of Puerto Ricans carry maternal lineages of Native American origin. This may shed some more light on the findings of Moreno et al., (2013), who wrote of the “Latin-European” component which seemed to indicate a founder effect.
In contrast, it would be interesting for future research to sample Hispanic Caribbean communities where African ancestry may have been retained in higher proportions and, in the process, collect more mtDNA and Y-DNA.
Good analysis. Very plausible.
Holy crap, looks like you may be on to something! I always assumed PRs had a little black, but after reading further it does appear they have quite a bit recent Canary from immigration. Makes sense.
Thanks! Yes indeed, the black color of the graphs from ADMIXTURE in Moreno 2013 didn't suggest a Tropical African source.
It was the actual "green" component of the study, a Yoruba-like component, to be precise, which indicated this source.
This is great work, I am Dominican and I have many fulani relatives some sharing as high as 16 cm. All on two segments, in my triangulations i can tell one of the segments is purely north african, noy surprisng sinces guinean fulanis ive seen have upward to 20% fulani. I have seen my fulani relatives matches on gedmatch and there arr quite a few puerto ricans. So my only critique is this blacl componennt can be a trifecta of senegambian berber via west african admix, guanche canarian admix and moorish admix in the canaries and spain.
In the new 23andme update they included fulani samples and some of my matches north african became senegambian while others didnt i think the truth lies in those who is conclusively not north african via fulani
Thank you for your comment and your interest in this post. You bring many interesting issues that I would like to elaborate on and clarify. It could also be informative to other users, who are interested in them, as well.
Given the widespread practice of Slavery in the Americas and the origins of the enslaved West African people who were displaced, it is normal that your data match with Fulani who tested, and more generally, West Africans.
Before I start addressing your findings, I would like to briefly go over what the scientific literatures, as well as other corroborating independent analyses, which have been done by Maju and me included, have suggested on the autosomal DNA of Fulani.
In 2012, a genetic study was published (Henn et al. 2012):
Here is a link https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1002397
or see the link of the post on this study that was made by Maju on this blog:
They have highlighted the different ancestral categories of North African and other tropical African populations by including the Yoruba, the Bulala, the Fulani, the Maasai and Luhya. It covered a wide range of North African populations from the Western Sahara to Egypt. Of course European Basques and Middle Eastern Qatari were included for "control" purposes.
The software ADMIXTURE was used to perform several exercises in order to identify and separate different clusters.
The method was unsupervised, meaning that the researchers didn't arbitrarily select clusters, they had employed a good sampling strategy where all the necessary proxies had been included, so they let the clusters form themselves up to k=10.
You will notice in the study that North Africans have mostly the light blue component, which is the Berber component, except for the Egyptians and Libyans who the purple as their main source of ancestry.
At k=8, it is clear that the peculiarity of the Fulani in addition to their West African ancestry, is what looks like an ancestral component similar to the ones of Berber ancestry.
At k=10 (see section “Supporting Information”: Figure_S1.tif) , the Fulanis form a "Fula" specific component restricted to them only, indicating, an old trans-Saharan admixture event, which after enough generations of endogamous patterns led to a distinctive genetic population in tropical Africa.
Intriguingly, Maju had pretty much ran similar exercises which corroborated the findings of Henn, just weeks earlier.
See here: http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2011/12/north-african-genetics-through-prism-of.html
At k=8, he had noticed the same “Fula-specific” of the Henn’s study.
“A Fulani-specific component shows up. Intriguingly it is almost equidistant by Fst measure from the Mandenka and the Sahrawi components (0.105 and 0.115 respectively). All the North African specific components are much closer to West Eurasian ones than to the Mandenka component, so this might suggest a very old kind of trans-Saharan admixture, then homogenized in a single component.”
I also ran the same exercise with the same populations, using ADMIXTURE, and had the same findings.
I used my raw data (about 690 k of snp) I converted it to binary, bed files. I was then able to find the dataset with the same populations found in the study.
I properly merged my files with the available data set using PLINK and its manual.
I used the ADMIXTURE and R software (all free and available to the general public) and ran the exercise, unsupervised, several times.
At k=5, I had all the clusters found in the Henn's study for k=10.
My "Fula" specific component is almost 40%.
I have the dark blue component which is predominantly found and restricted to North African groups for 16-18%.
And finally I score for about 42-44% West African (most likely Senegambian, given other runs, I have made) ancestry, in this case similar to the Yoruba group, serving as control for "tropical Africans".
None of the Fulani samples from the dataset, scored or displayed the dark blue/North African component expect me, after the formation of the “Fula-specific” component.
It’s a peculiarity that applies to me and my private genetic ancestry. It should not be confused with the pattern of the genetic makeup of Fulani (composed of West African and North African ancestry), observed in all the studies and experimentations that I have just mentioned, which seem to indicate some old and complex trans-Saharan admixture events.
It’s precisely the reason why I was intrigued to investigate this side of my genetic ancestry, following what I had already identified as shared North African ancestral components without any additional tropical African category, with other Latino and Hispanic Caribbean, independently from my known Fula and West African ancestry.
There are Fula communities in almost every West African country, across the Sahel, and all the way to Saudi Arabia, who have been there for several generations in many cases and for some of them, as their autosomal DNA seem to suggest, reported cases of inter-mixing with local populations.
Anecdotal and unexpected ancestral contributions from other populations of the region or up North in more recent times, as it is the case for me, can also be manifested and should be understood in the proper context of local historical developments.
I didn’t remove my sample because it’s possible that other people who are West Africans, not just Fulani, may have similar unexpected findings with their autosomal DNA, Y-DNA, or MTDNA, which could suggest an external source of ancestry due the regional or nearby historical developments.
My data mostly match with Afro-American, West Indian and occasionally Hispanic Caribbean or Latino. When I used the chromosome browser tool from gedmatch and managed to pinpoint very precisely what segment I shared with many of them, it was a West African component with occasionally also additional traces of West Asian or North African ancestry.
All indicative of shared Fula or Senegambian ancestry.
I had also identified shared North African ancestral components without any additional tropical African category, with other Latino and Hispanic Caribbean. This is the side of my genetic ancestry I investigated when I focused on my North African, non-Fula specific component which I stated in this post.
My best guess for this restricted Northwest African/Berber link with Latino and Hispanics, more generally, would be oriented toward the presence of Moroccan (of North African origin) in the West African region. So hypothetically, by way of the remnants of the documented presence of the Moroccan empire in the region, or some Tuareg blood from the Sahara.
El Monumento a las Guayarminas
Before looking at the statue in detail perhaps it will be useful to give a bit of background to the first inhabitants of the seven Canary Islands, a people who are now referred to as the Guanches. That was almost certainly not the name they used to describe themselves, most people calling themselves words in their own languages that more approximate to ‘the chosen’, ‘the humans’ or ‘the people’ rather than anything more specific. All peoples really have been given their names by others, normally their enemies, so those names, which have now stuck, tend to be derogatory in translation. But then people don’t really look to deep into their own origins.
Anyway, it is generally agreed that the first settlers came from North Africa. No one seems to have come up with a rational explanation of why the first ones took the perilous journey of 800 or so kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean from the African mainland – but do so they did and in significant numbers so that by the 6th century BC they had established settlements in Tenerife – at least. It is also generally accepted they are of Berber origin, what remains of the Guanche language bearing similarities with the Berber spoken in parts of North-western Africa. (Although over a period of more than two thousand years they must have gone their own separate ways.)
Everything seems to have gone quite well until the Spanish decided to expand its empire but it doesn’t seem to have been that easy. The Spanish ‘Conquest’ took place throughout the 15th century, they only being fully in control of all the Canary Islands in 1496. In the process, in fine imperialist style, the Guanche culture, way of life and language was totally destroyed, the people being either killed or sold into slavery and their memory being effectively obliterated from history – a strategy the Spanish followed over the next two centuries in what is now known as Central and Latin America.
As an aside it is worth mentioning that, although unplanned by the Spanish, the conquest of the Canary Islands played a vital role in, first, Christopher Columbus’s first voyage of ‘discovery’ of America and the subsequent sacking and robbery of that continent over the next three hundred years. It was in the town that is now known as San Sebastian, in La Gomera, that was the last place of call (to stock up on fresh water) for Columbus’s three tiny ships before they set out to find a short cut to India. Unfortunately for the indigenous people, of what is now known as the Americas, their home was in the way. Most of the thousands of Spanish ships which were to make that voyage in the succeeding centuries used the Canaries as such a staging post.
Like many imperialist nations, to whom genocide was part and parcel of conquest, when it’s too late to do anything about it, they attempt to salve their consciences by making a mock recognition of their past crimes and paying lip service to respecting the culture they had previously, happily, destroyed. It isn’t a coincidence that this plays well in the present era of ‘political correctness’ and the world of tourism – the industry upon which the Canaries will either sink or swim. We should always remember the qualification that we should be aware of, and know how to tell the difference between, those who ‘speak well but mean bad and those who speak bad but mean well’.
And it is in this environment that we have to place the statue of the Monument to Las Guayarminas.
Gáldar is the location of the Cueva Pintada, a natural basalt cave where, some time in the 19th century, archaeologists re-discovered polychromatic wall paintings, pre-Conquest, about which theories of their meaning abound. (I will accept that they are important relics of the past but they are somewhat under-whelming when seen in real life.)
So in 1981, I assume the municipality of Gáldar, commissioned a local sculptor, Borges Linares, to create a public work of art to celebrate, commemorate, the slaughter, rapine, enslavement and virtual ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Guanche people.
It’s here we start to see the separation of capitalist, imperialist, ‘justification’ art from the forward-looking, progressive, proletarian art that I have been writing about in the posts on the Albanian lapidars.
First its location. The statue and its plinth stand on a small, raised traffic island at the entrance to the commercial part of the town. To get a good view of it you have to step up on to the grass from the road and the statue is in no way ‘accessible’. The plinth is about 2 metres high so that even more separates the figures from the viewer.
Now, I’m quite happy about that. This is the type of statue that most people who pass it everyday couldn’t tell you anything about it in detail. However, by placing the statue in this location there’s an implied ‘look don’t touch’ message. This is what can be seen in the UK with those royal equestrian statues and any such representation of past kings or queens. It’s not for the hoi polloi to be able to touch such ‘sacred beings’. For the ‘peasants’ looking up, hopefully in some form of ignorant respect, it is the only way to appreciate such creations.
Then we have the name. The translation tells us this is a monument to three Guanche ‘princesses’. This demonstrates the first of the many banal aspects of this ‘work of art’.
Why princesses? For more than two thousand years a vibrant culture existed on the seven Canary Islands. It appears they were able to feed, clothe and house themselves relatively successfully. There seems to be evidence of a collective element in the storage of the basic food grains, principally barley (from which they made a staple called ‘gofio’). At the same time there was a hierarchy of wealth and power – which seems to have been tolerated in primitive societies as it is in most societies up to the present day – forelock tugging being an innate attribute of most individuals.
In Albanian Socialist Realism it’s the working class men and women who are celebrated and recognised for their contribution to the Liberation of the country from Fascism, the Revolution and the construction of Socialism.
In the sham ‘recognition’ of the Guanche the chosen are the ruling class, about which virtually nothing is known. In Europe there are princesses so there must have been the same in the Guanche culture. The Euro-centric view of society and history is thereby reinforced.
They are tall, slim, ‘regal’ – banal. They represent and say nothing. They are there, that’s all. Static, without purpose, parasitic, doing nothing. Like the present aristocracy, in countries like Britain, where the ignorant flag-waving monarchists, with their obsession with the Saxe-Coberg and Gotha family – which changed its name to Windsor in 1914 so the British workers and peasants that went to die in the war against Germany wouldn’t know that their monarchy was also German – continue to fawn and kowtow to a rich family of thieves whilst their miserable lives get worse due the effects of ‘austerity’.
The women of Albania fought, they took up arms with the men, they were equal, nay, more than equal to those slavish Nationalist quislings who sat down with the Fascist invaders. In Albania we have the example of the likes of Liri Gero, a brave teenager, a young peasant woman with a long-term perspective, tortured and murdered by the Nazis – as a ‘lesson’ to those who dare to fight for Freedom (the meaning of her name).
The Spanish Conquistadors had such contempt for those peoples whose land they stole that they didn’t keep comprehensive records of the culture they were hell-bent on destroying. The Guanche don’t seem to have been a particularly warring culture and would have to had learnt quickly how to deal with the invaders. They also seemed not to have developed any form of written or pictorial version of their language in which their history could be recorded. If there’s any evidence that women took part in the fighting I have yet to encounter such material. However, even if they did not actually take part in combat they would have kept their society running as smoothly as possible as the men were away, by working in the fields.
As I write that I start to wonder why it took women, from all over the world, so long, when faced with war and invasion where they would have suffered physically if their ‘side’ had lost, didn’t actually take part in the battles. Not all fighting has to depend upon physical strength. In fact those tactics of ‘guerrilla warfare’ developed by Chairman Mao actually favour intelligence and guile rather than brute force. A patriarchal society doesn’t provide all the answers.
It wasn’t until the Paris Commune of 1871 (the 146th anniversary of which was commemorated on March 18th last) that working class women first took a concerted and active part in the struggle for the betterment of their class in opposition to the established state. For their pains they were murdered and buried alive by the ignorant peasant army of Versailles in the last week of May of that year. Fighting a rearguard action the Women Incendiaries, such as Louise Michel, aimed to delay the inevitable and to leave a destroyed Paris to the victors – concerned more with property than human lives.
However, it wasn’t until the first Socialist revolution, led by an ideologically clear and organised Marxist Party (the Bolsheviks who were later to become the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) in the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, that women first started to play a real role in the fight for the liberation of the working class.
This role became even more important and politically relevant during the anti-Fascist and National Liberation Wars after 1939 in those countries where the struggle was led by Communist Parties – especially in the Soviet Union, China, Albania and Vietnam.
But in the 15th century the Guanche hadn’t had the opportunity to learn this lesson and they were virtually annihilated.
Instead of investigating and considering anti-Spanish resistance as the theme of his statue Linares decided on the ‘safe’ option, the option that wouldn’t in anyway rattle the status quo or the establishment. As stated before, the totally banal.
Volcanic islands are, by definition, mountainous and this is represented in the statue with the lower two princesses representing the foothills while the standing, central female representing the highest peak. This also alludes to the idea of royalty being the pinnacle of any society.
Here it seems appropriate to make a comment on the features of the females represented on this statue – and also in the other Canarian representations of the Guanche I’ve encountered. This is important as it indicates how serious the Spanish victors are about the whole of this restitution of history.
Remember that the Guanche are generally accepted to have arrived from North Africa. It might be my eyesight but I can’t see anything North African in the features of these three Guanche ‘princesses’.
The Northern Africa population today display a mixture of Arabic and Negroid features. These people have been mixing for thousands of years. The northern Caucasians would also be in the mix but due to the very nature of their location they would have had a minor impact upon the features of the population. That is now, I would consider it to have been even less in the past, that is, 600 years ago.
So why do these three women, as well as the people in the God-awful videos in the ‘Cueva Pintada’ Museum video presentations, look distinctively Spanish, or, at least Northern European/Caucasian?
This is all part of the ‘revisionist’ version of the past.
Imperialism seems to think that if they create those they have robbed and destroyed in their own image this is an appropriate recompense for their past ‘crimes’. (I put ‘crimes’ in parenthesis as they are not really accepted as such and still take place to this day in many parts of the world.)
There’s a contradiction in present day society. Metropolitan cities are praised yet the homogenisation that results from this is not considered to be an issue. It leads to an idea that we are ‘all the same’ but this doesn’t work when we look at the past. Especially those cultures that have been destroyed by a stronger – or at least more vicious (and often also supported by convenient diseases to which the indigenous population are not immune.) There is also the fact that such Metropolitanism misses the vast proportion of the world’s population and they wouldn’t know it if they saw it. Why is it that big city centralism is celebrated throughout the world but at the same time billions of people are living in abject poverty?
What we have in this statue is realisation of a dead culture which is represented by the images of the culture that killed it – and to which it has never been brought to book. These women have no Northern African features whatsoever, they look more Spanish, European. More like the invaders of 600 years ago. Those same invaders ‘celebrate’ those they destroyed by making a statue that looks more like the murderers than the victims.
If you look at the ‘principal’ princess she looks like something from a video game. She bears no relation to a real person. She’s more like Linda Carter’s version of ‘Wonder Woman’ – but without the ability to fight – even down to the triangle on her headband. Her hair extends halfway down her back but it’s difficult to make out as the three women merge into each other, emphasising their lack of individuality. Also this principal ‘princess’ just stares out ahead of her, she looks catatonic, there’s no animation in her stance.
She also wears a totally impractical dress, full body length, with a slit that starts above her knee, the only indication of anything that approximates something living.
The statue is called the three princesses but the other two females that are part of the structure seem more to be servants than equals.
The one on the right looks out at rights angles to her more prominent sister. What she shares is the vacant, empty look. She is dressed in virtually the same style as the standing woman but one thing that’s emphasised by her stance is the inability of Linares to sculpt hands. Or feet. All these difficult appendages to the human body all merge into a shapeless mess.
What also differentiates the standing ‘princess’ with the others is the lack of a triangle on the forehead. So surely a sign of different social standing.
I have problems with the woman on the left. She’s also much lower but whereas the one on the right is kneeling the one on the left seems to be sitting down, her hidden legs (almost Mermaid like) covering the feet of the most important. She doesn’t stare into nothingness, she looks up, in a way that indicates suffering rather than anything pleasant. Although there are three women this statue owes more to those of images of the Crucifixion of Christ than anything original – or Pre-Conquest.
This third woman is also different in that she has something that looks like a couple of conch shells on her shoulder, resting them against the thigh of the standing ‘princess’. I don’t know. Perhaps she’s waiting for a message. Or has just received one that is so shocking that it is the reason for her surprised look.
One of the aspects of Albanian lapidars that I have mentioned a number of times – in praise – is that the name of the artist doesn’t appear on the sculpture. I like this indication of a lack of possession but at the same time I believe these Socialist artists should be attributed for their skill, but not on the work itself. The destruction of the archives of the Albanian League of Writers and Artists was a tragic consequence of the 1990s Counter Revolution. Because many of the lapidars were not ‘signed’ now it’s not so easy to learn who the sculptors were.
However, in the case of the sculpture in Gáldar we know exactly who was the sculptor as he vandalises his own work by placing his name in the middle of the backs of the three women. He doesn’t chose a discreet location on the plinth, but in a place that is totally inappropriate.
The ideas that separate this sculpture from those of the Albanian lapidars demonstrate, without a shadow of a doubt, the difference between the capitalist and socialist systems.
Canary Islands Part 2
The town of Firgas on Gran Canaria has a sloping street with tiled maps and illustrations of all the Canary Islands, plus a relief model
Firgas also has this lovely street lined with tiled benches and plaques, one for each of the island’s main towns.
Many towns have outdoor cafes on or near the main square—note palm trees and balconies
Canary Islands: Part 2: Summary of islands
(I’ve put a lot of photos in this post, so please enjoy and scroll through).
We spent 10 days on the islands—a week on Tenerife and 3 days on Gran Canaria—so we were able to explore a fair bit. On both islands we stayed on, and visited, the north part of the island, rather than the south, as the south is a bit warmer, has more beaches and many big tourist resorts. We’ve always shunned resorts as we feel that’s not a good way to find out about local life and culture.
In some ways the two islands are very similar, but different in other ways so we’re happy we visited at least two of the 7 islands. If we ever revisit we’ll try to visit another one too, as well as return to Tenerife.
Courtyard in garden of main cathedral of Las Palmas
Mountain village view—the sea is never far away
(Here are some general observations. Later I’ll try to describe specific places and events.) It was interesting to be on an island with an island culture and the sea a constant presence. We enjoyed hearing Spanish (although we speak very little), and it was wonderful to see the architecture with a strong Spanish influence: towns and villages with a main plaza—the hub of local life—surrounded by a big church, usually with a belfry, and many government/official buildings. The plaza is usually pedestrianized, so kids can run around, throw balls or ride bikes, and adults/families sit around a central kiosk selling drinks and snacks, or at café tables spilling out onto the square or side streets.
Main plaza in Garachico (other side)—our hotel is the burnt orange building on the right
Main plaza in Buena Vista on Tenerife’s north coast
Most buildings are painted in bright colors—such as blue, yellow, orange, ochre, green—and many have beautiful wooden or wrought-iron balconies. Palm trees, pointsettias (in pots and as live shrubs), strelitzias and bougainvilleas bring a bright tropical touch, and outside the coastal towns and villages huge banana plantations are never far away.
Tenerife has many banana plantations
Volcanic landscape on Tenerife
All the islands are volcanic in origin but Tenerife is the one where this is probably the most obvious. Mt Teide dominates the island, and the north coast is marked by coves, inlets and rocky outcrops of craggy black rocks, against which the waves pound ceaselessly.
Garachico—note black volcanic rocks
We spent most time in Garachico on Tenerife and used it as our base, and would do so again. It’s on the north coast, almost at the west end of the main coastal road TF42. This pretty town sprawls along the black rocky waterfront and up the mountain close behind. Established in the 16 th century by Genoese merchants, Garachico was once the most important port on the island. That ended in 1706 when the Volcan Negro erupted and lava buried the harbor and much of the town. The façade of the former Santa Ana church escaped, as did the Castillo de San Miguel on the waterfront. It now houses the Heritage Information Center.
Dogs are prominent on the Canaries’ crest
Once we got our orientation here we loved it and even returned for a day when we were staying at El Sauzal, another town further east on the coast. Garachico is a lovely town of narrow cobblestone streets, attractive colored buildings, many with striking balconies, a large plaza for pedestrians only, little souvenir shops and many restaurants and bars. It’s bustling in the day, but casual and friendly, and much quieter at night. Our hotel, the Quinta Roja, was in a huge former mansion fronting onto the main square so we were right in the center of local life—a bike rally on a Saturday morning, church services and bells on Sunday, family voltas (slow promenade while chatting) every evening.
Steep street in Oratavo, Tenerife
As a tourist on the islands it would be almost impossible to visit without renting a car, as public buses, although plentiful, will only take you to certain places. So, we did. In Garachico, and all the other towns, parking is a big problem, so it’s best to find a public parking place and then just walk. In Garachico you can park all along the seafront or in a parking area right next to the sea (all free, but all very busy at weekends when many day-trippers come visiting). Driving on the islands is not too difficult, if you know where you’re going and have a good map (the one from the Tourist Office at Tenerife airport was excellent). However, the roads are some of the steepest we’ve ever driven, with some incredible switchbacks and hairpin bends. But, considering the mountainous terrain the road system is pretty good. It’s actually remarkable that many local buses go up these steep winding roads.
Special Canadian sauces and wrinkly potatoes, served here with fish
Las Palmas main cathedral
On both islands you have to pay extra for bread at a meal, but it’s very good bread. Seafood everywhere is wonderful—fresh and plentiful. It’s not recommended that people drink tap water, so everyone buys bottled water. In shops and supermarkets you can buy very large bottles (up to 8 liters, which is a bit over 2 gallons) very cheaply.
We flew from Tenerife to Gran Canaria and stayed in the main city of Las Palmas, which is way bigger and more built-up than we were expecting. The port is also huge—it’s always been an ocean crossroads and still is. For example we saw oil tankers from Venezuela. It’s a very cosmopolitan city—we saw many Muslims in special robes and African people. Sadly, we also saw quite a few homeless people.
Casa Colon (Columbus’s House) in Old Las Palmas
The best part of the city is Old Las Palmas, called Vegueta, which we went to by bus (1.40 euro each). It has a bustling covered produce market (the Mercado), old churches, mansions and squares, all in bright colors. We had fun visiting the main cathedral of the island and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art housed in part of the cathedral buildings. Vegueta also has the Casa Colon and the Museum, mentioned in Part 1. Here we learned a lot about the history of the islands, archeological, pre-colonial and colonial. What’s really brought home is how they have been an important sea crossroads all along.
Pedestrianized street in Teror
We were able to get out of the city one day, and drove up to three gorgeous mountain villages (Arucas, Teror, and Firgas), all with their own special church and squares.
If you are ever able to, I’d definitely recommend the Canary Islands for a wonderful trip.
Which 'evidence' is there for a claim that 'Chinese discovered America in 636'?
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics is a branch of the Ministry of Planning, Budget, and Management. On its own website it has a history timeline with a few curious dates:
catálogo ID: 4106
Código municipal: 4108809
Estado: Paraná - PR
Histórico: Guaíra Paraná - PR
There is historical evidence of the discovery of America before Columbus by the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, by Hindus, as well as by the Japanese and Koreans.
636 – Chinese discover America.
986 – The navigator Bjarni Herjolsson traveling from Iceland to Greenland was diverted from his route by a storm that led him south, taking him to new and unknown places. In 1001, back in Greenland, he told Leif Ericson, who years later followed with an expedition arriving in Helluland (land of rocks), Markland (land of wood) and Vinland (land of vines) in North America.
1117 – The Icelandic bishop Eirik made the same route and arrived at Vinland. In 1965, the Yale Library announced to the world the discovery of an ancient map where two islands appeared, one with the name Vinland and the other with the name Brazil. (The fact was discovered in 1960 by the Norwegian Helge Ingstad who found ruins of the old wikers in New Fonndland). This map is a precise document that records the circumnavigation trip made by Father John de Plano Carpini between 1245 and 1247.
1311 – The African king Abudakari II led a fleet of several boats from the African west coast towards the Atlantic Ocean, years later he returned only one boat reporting the discovery of America.
1339 – The name Brazil already appears in planisférios (cartographers Mediceu, Solleri, Pinelli and Branco). The Brazilian historian Sérgio Buarque de Holanda cites that the origin of the name Brazil is due to a Celtic legend that speaks of a "land of delights".
1474 – The most famous cartographer of the time, Paolo Toscanelli, wrote to a Portuguese friend in 1474, talking about the "Island of Antília".
1479 – Treaty of Alcáçovas - Portugal gives up the Canary Islands but now has rights over any discovery to the south of this archipelago.
1493 – The Order of Christ already knew the Isola de Braçill according to the map of 1482, made by the cartographer Gracioso Benincasa, in Ancona, Italy, the map indicates: the Portuguese coast, the African coast, the Brazilian coast and the Antílias. They maintained a policy of secrecy that condemned to death those who commented on the matter.
This is an extraordinary claim on an official government website.
There are of course numerous pre-Columbian contact hypothesis. Some with a bit more, some with a large degree of less confidence for what they present.
In all probability this is far from most official narratives. And not well supported. Not even in conspiracy-theory-friendly corners of the net.
But this specific theory, for which the Brazilian institute claims there would be "evidence", seems also absent entirely from what 'theories' I could locate elsewhere.
The page seems to give credit to authors "Omar Fedato Aleksiejuk Zido Raddatz", but all searches so far for these claims return empty and for authors back to the same.
Which theories posit that "there were Chinese discoverers of the Americas in 636"? Or which "evidence" might this institute's chronology might allude to?