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They Came Before Columbus reveals a compelling dramatic and superbly detailed documentation of the presence and legacy of Africans in ancient America Examining navigation and shipbuilding; cultural analogies between Native Americans and Africans; the transportation of plants animals and textiles between the continents; and the diaries journals and oral accounts of the explorers themselves Ivan Van Sertima builds a pyramid of evidence to support his claim of an African presence in the New World centuries before Columbus Combining impressive scholarship with a novelist’s gift for storytelling Van Sertima re creates some of the most powerful scenes of human history the launching of the great ships of Mali in 1310 two hundred master boats and two hundred supply boats the sea expedition of the Mandingo king in 1311 and many others In They Came Before Columbus we see clearly the unmistakable face and handprint of black Africans in pre Columbian America and their overwhelming impact on the civilizations they encountered

10 thoughts on “They Came Before Columbus The African Presence in Ancient America

  1. says:

    I remember my 7th grade history teacher use to talk about Christopher Columbus and this particular day in class I asked him “ How could he have discovered something when people were watching him from the shore” Ivan Van Sertima is a Guyanese historian linguist and anthropologist whose impeccable research clearly demonstrates that great African mariners visited the Americas and had major influences Any reader who has given this work a negative review is due to the fact they do not know history and anthropology and their foundation has been based off of some of the pioneers and scholars who have been culturally biased against Black people and Ancient Black civilizations After hearing a friend speak highly of it this book; I had to read this book and research the topic on my own If skeptics think this book is solely for Afro centrist they are wrong this book is very scholarly it gives botanical cartographical linguistic artistic and historical evidence in order to make a strong case for the African presence in America

  2. says:

    Stylistically compelling this book can be an enchanting read though its thesis is deeply flawed Behind the dramatizations Van Sertima asserts two different points 1 that Africans travelled by sea from Egypt to America about 3000 years ago thus sparking the first American civilization the Olmec; and 2 that Afrikans from the Empire of Mali had extensive trading relations with the American peoples of the Caribbean from the time of Mansa Abubakari in the early 14th century Of these the latter is somewhat probable though Sertima really only proves that Mali sent fleets west and that was known before his book was published Sertima however fails to provide any conclusive proof of the extensive trading it's all circumstantialThe deepest flaws however lie with the first point Here Sertima uses arguments that are very strange such as that the famous Olmec Stone heads are obviously African and thus they must be depictions of Africans Mesoamerican scholars have disproved Sertima but their arguments have had little spread outside of academic circles Their article is available online here should be read at least as a counterpoint to this bookWhat really bugs me is that Sertima never adresses the most serious argument against his thesis the epidemiological one When the Europeans made extensive contact with the American civilizations the latter collapsed This was not due to some kind of European superiority but rather the result of Old world microbes against which the Americans had no resistance whatsoever Why? Because they never had been exposed to those microbes never developing any resistance against them For Sertima's argument to be valid this lack of resistance on the part of the Americans must be explained Sertima however fails to do so From the epidemiological viewpoint any pre columbian contact would have to have been extremely marginal not affecting the American continents as extensively as Sertima asserts It is still possible to argue that pre columbian contact existed but one will need some kind of proof for this not the kind of wishful thinking Sertima engages in in this book

  3. says:

    Oh my goodness Forgive me for taking forever to read this book It was my fault alone This book was incredible and to sum it up in a nutshell from Sertima's own words The African presence in America before Columbus is of importance not only to African and American history but to the history of world civilizations It provides further evidence that all great civilizations and races are heavily indebted to one another and that no race has a monopoly on enterprise and inventive genius The variety of proof Sertima gives of the African presence is insightful and convincing and I'm inspired to read much of historical antiuity because of it

  4. says:

    I read this book nearly 18 years ago in college and never doubted it bc i always believe there were an african present here before columbus I also would recommend people read diaries from columbus and other early settlers U can really learn history far from what the textbooks teach one in school Im grateful to my history teacher who taught me how to find these first person resources bc i have learned alot about why blacks were enslaved and who idea it was to enslave my ancestors

  5. says:

    Very interesting alternative interpretation of well known data about pre columbian america After doing some research inspired by reading this book I've learned that the Moors did indeed have very advanced navigational technology way ahead of the Europeans So it would not be surprising in the least if they were here before Europeans

  6. says:

    This is another informative book that tells truth about the Ancient Africans These Africans travelled to the Americas namely central America and Mexico They didn't have steam ships; they had man power and Atlantic trade winds Africans were doing it before the white man came and told the world that we didn't do anything DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE

  7. says:

    Seeing how another Columbus Day has come and gone it's important to add this book to my read shelf If you've never read anything by Ivan Van Sertima this book is an excellent must read

  8. says:

    As the only representative of the people VanSertima is trying to steal from I find it incredibly disrespectful that we're not even taken into consideration as if the Nubians were the only reason we develop a high and complex civilization like our mother culture the Olmecs Everyone is so busy trying to defend Van Sertimas seafaring possibilities that it has blinded your logic on the obvious WHY did the nubians fleet travel all the way to Mexico? Why didn't they trade with Africans and give them the civilization Van Sertima claims? Why isn't there any exchange of technologies? Or immunity to old world diseases? Steal corn calendar the concept of zero wheat etc ? where's the concrete evidence we find within other trading partners? All of this evidence is absent because Van Sertima is basically a Charlatan using his creative writing degree to USE US for him money making scheme and trick African descent people into believe the nonsense of Nubians coming to give us civilization??? With NO evidence what's so ever SMH Can you be racist than this? it's as if we don't even exist This articlehttpwwwunledurhamescoursescur explains it well As well as this book Thieves of Civilization Afrocentric Attempts to Appropriate the Cultural Heritage of Native Americans By Gabriel Hassip Viera

  9. says:

    Outstanding well documented tracings of voyages immigrations and trading secrets which go far toward solving mysteries in the Old and New World of cultural similarities which had heretofore seemed impossible to reconcile with Euro centric versions of history Centuries before Columbus or even Eric the Red commerce and exploration between Africa and the Americas blossomed and an entire African kingdom seems to have immigrated to South America It was exciting to read Van Sertma's discussion the plotting and avarice by Columbus against his ueen and soul crushing to see the conseuence of his 'conuest' and enslavement of the native populations which fell under his sword I highly recommend this book

  10. says:

    Couldn't put this down At the time this book was first published in 1976 unfortunately I read Erich Von Daniken's 'Chariots of the Gods' as a result it has taken me forty years to venture back into this subjectThankfully I came across Ivan Van Sertima's book purely by accident and now I know it wasn't spacemen but West Africans and before them it was NubianEgyptianPhoenician mariners that struck the land of the Olmecs around 600 BCMr Columbus really missed the party By 1495 there had been a couple thousand years of contact backward and forward across the Atlantic I didn't know that American Indians sailed across the Atlantic and arrived on the coast of northern Europe in the first century BC'They Came Before Columbus' is such a well written and comprehensive catalogue of data providing African artifacts stone heads pottery skeletons carbon dating linguistic links botanical data anthropological evidence and so much Every chapter is accompanied with relevant Notes and References that are most interesting in themselvesWith such a fascinating and wide sweep of historical information that debunks so much tripe that has been published in the past although it has been on the bookshelves for forty years this is recommended reading