The Olmec came from Saharan Africa 3200 years ago.They came in boats which are depicted in the Izapa Stela no.5, in twelve migratory waves. These Proto-Olmecs belonged to seven clans which served as the base for the Olmec people.
This new race may have come from Africa. Sertima (1976), and Weiner (1922) believe that some of these foriegn people may have come from West Africa. Dr. Wiercinski (1972) claims that the some of the Olmecs were of African origin. He supports this claim with skeletal evidence from several Olmec sites where he found skeletons that were analogous to the West African type black. Wiercinski discovered that 13.5 percent of the skeletons from Tlatilco and 4.5 percent of the skeletons from Cerro de las Mesas were Africoid (Wiercinski & Jairazbhoy 1975) (For information on African Olmecs see Clyde A Winters Homepage
Originally posted by parishdevin
an olmec statue of somebody who is clearly of african decent.
Olmec skeletons African? No, just poor scholarship
This is a collection of back and forth arguments from sci.archaeology.mesoamerican, compiled by Peter van Rossum, which deconstructs the study of Wiercinski who claims to have found African skeletons.
In response to my post Mr. Winters congratulated me on
having performed a fine critique but even though he
didn't contradict my conclusions he said he still
wasn't willing to dismiss Wiercinski's study.
The final part is one of my last posts to Mr. Winters to
try to convince him that no matter what his position with
regard to Old-New World contacts, Wiercinski's study is
not useful - I guess he never got the message.
Feel free to e-mail me with anything in here that seems
ambiguous to you, I'll try to make them clearer.
Peter van Rossum
1. NOTES ON WIERCINSKI'S ARTICLES
The skeletons used by Wiercinski came from INAH
collections and from the Maya Museum in Merida.
The data used are summarized in the table below:
| Site(s) | Number| Time Period |
| Zacatenco & | 6 | Early |
| El Arborillo | | Preclassic |
| Tlatilco | 76 | Preclassic |
| | | |
| Cerro de las Mesas| 19 | Late |
| | | Classic |
| Monte Alban & | 41 | Classic & |
| Monte Negro | | Postclassic |
| Teotihuacan | 13 | Classic |
| | | |
| Maya | 38 | Classic & |
| various Maya sites| | Postclassic |
Wiercinski characterizes the Tlatilco and Cerro de las
Mesas samples as "Olmecoid" but its clear that he is
using them as being genetically linked to Olmec populations
at sites such as La Venta.
Wiercinski measured the skulls for 48 traits, but focuses
in on the following 10 traits:
1. Prominence of maxilla - degree of prognathis
2. Height of nasal root
3. Prominence of nose
4. Prominence of nasal spine
5. Position of nasal spine
6. Profile of nasa
7. Frontal shape of nasal bones
8. Shape of orbits
9. Depth of maxillary incisure
10. Depth of canine fossa
Wiercinski is most interested in the above 10 traits because
he maintains that they are the best for discriminating between
what he calls the 3 great races of man (white, black & yellow).
Based on the above 10 traits he also calculates two distance
measures which he calls Py-w and Py-b, where each of these
characterizes how a skull compares between yellow-white and
yellow-black races. For example a score of Py-w=0 means a skull
is completely white; whereas Py-w=100 means a skull is completely
yellow. Similarly, Py-b=0 is same as black and Py-b=100 is yellow.
Note: Wiercinski was not able to measure all of the traits for
each of the skulls. This is due to post-depositional processes
which have had a destructive impact on many of the skeletons.
The first thing Wiercinski did was to compare the Py-w and Py-b
scores of the 6 Mesoamerican cranial series with measures for
series from Poland (white), Mongolia (yellow) and Uganda (black).
From this he produced two graphs (figs. 2&3) from Wiercinski 1970.
I have summarized these frequency graphs in a rough tabular form
below. For simplicity I only include what Wiercinski calls the
"Olmecoid" series from Tlatilco and Cerro de las Mesas.
In fig. 3 he compares the Mesoamerican series Pb-y scores with
series from Uganda (black race) and Mongolia (yellow race) [the
results for the Ugandan, "Olmecoid", Mongolian series are
reproduced in rough tabular form below]. Similarly, in fig. 2,
he compares the Py-w scores of the Mesoamerican series with series
from Mongolia (yellow race) and Poland (white race).
| P-y-b | Uganda | Olmecoid | Mongolia |
| Score | (black) | | (yellow) |
| 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 |
| 5 | 2 | 0 | 0 |
| 15 | 6 | 0 | 0 |
| 25 | 20 | 0 | 0 |
| 35 | 34 | 3 | 0 |
| 45 | 20 | 20 | 6 |
| 55 | 8 | 42 | 22 |
| 65 | 2 | 18 | 35 |
| 75 | 0 | 12 | 32 |
| 85 | 0 | 2 | 4 |
| 95 | 0 | 2 | 0 |
| 100 | 0 | 0 | 0 |
In both figs. 2&3 the Mesoamerican series fall in an intermediate
position, but overlap at the extremes with the Mongolian, Polish
and Ugandan series. It should also be noted that there is also
overlap between his Ugandan (black), Mongolian (yellow) and Polish
For Wiercinski this indicates that those Mesoamerican individuals
who overlapped with the Ugandan series were black (African), those
that overlap with the Mongolian series were yellow (Asian), and
those that overlap with the Polish were white (European).
To me, this only serves to point out what other racial studies have
found - racial identification of an individual is problematic at best
because there is more variability within members of the same race
than there is between members of different races [see any
introductory anthro. text or book on race for examples].
Finally Wiercinski classifies the skulls into various
racial types based on what he calls the procedure of "the
Comparative-Morphological Trend of the Polish Anthropological
School." Don't ask me what that means, he doesn't describe
it in this article but says it is described in an article
published in the 38th Congress of Americanists held in
Stuttgart in 1968. I couldn't find this article but here's
what he reports:
Racial Zac. Tlat. Cerro Monte Teot. Maya
Type Mesas Alban
Armenoid 3.9 5.6 2.7
Laponoid 2.8 5.4
Mongoloid 2.8 8.3
Pacific 7.7 2.8
Ainuid-Armenoid 8.3 2.7
Subainuid 13.5 27.3 11.1 25.0
Ainuid-Arctic 1.9 2.8
Alpine 1.9 8.3 8.3 2.7
Turanian 16.7 8.1
Anatolian 3.9 2.8 25.0 10.8
Armenoid-Bushmenoid 3.9 9.1
Dongolian 19.2 2.8 2.7
Central-Asiatic 16.7 2.8 8.3 8.1
Subpacific 66.7 38.5 63.6 22.2 16.7 43.2
Lowland 16.7 8.3 10.8
Pacific-Equatorial 1.9 2.8
No. Diagnosed 6 52 11 36 12 37
2. MY POSTED CRITIQUE OF WIERCINSKI'S STUDY
In article firstname.lastname@example.org (Clyde A. Winters) writes:
>Cameron Wesson (email@example.com) wrote:
>: 1. The claim is made that Tlatilco and Monte Alban are Olmec sites.
>: This is untrue. This fact alone would lead me to believe that the person
> This is highly misleading granted these sites may have been occupied
>in preClassic times but there is a clear Olmec period at Tlatilco and
>Monte Alban as discussed by Bernal in , and Coe in Jill
As has been pointed out to you by other posters, there is currently a
debate as to what the best definition of Olmec is. Many archaeologists
now think there is an "Olmec style" found throughout most of Mesoamerica
which is an amalgamation of traits from different regions. These
archaeologists reserve the term Olmec to refer to a cultural group living
in the Gulf Coast of Mexico during the time period 1500-500 B.C. Bernal's
reference is now woefully dated and more recent work in the Valley of
Oaxaca shows that certain "Olmec" traits actually appear here earlier
than they do in the Olmec Gulf Coast heartland. This is true for other
regions of Mesoamerica as well. While Coe might still be sticking to the
notion of the diffusion of an Olmec style from a single source, many others
have abandoned this notion in favor of one that sees the origin of traits in
various areas and its diffusion associated with cultural contacts by multiple
societies at a roughly equivalent stage of cultural evolution.
>: 2. Cranial measurements from Tlatilco indicate an African presence.
>: Wrong again. I presented a paper on the burials of Tlatilco at
>: the Midwest Mesoamerican meetings in 1993, _Patterns of Association in
>: the Burials of San Luis Tlatilco, Mexico_, and I can tell you that many of
>: the remains were NOT in the best condition. They were also negatively
>: impacted due to the fact that the site was initially discovered by heavy
>: excavation by a brick company, rather than through archaeological
>: investigation (although subsequent salvage excavations were undertaken).
>: Such impacts often destroy fragile human remains, and this was often
>: been the case at Tlatilco. Cranial measures are *AT BEST* correct about
>: 85% of the time, and that is when ALL of the cranium is available to be
>: measured, and the measurements are made by an expert. Remove one or two
>: key cranial features and the confidence interval of racial
>: classification drops to 70%. Remove three or more cranial features from
>: your measurements and you are about as accurate as simply guessing!
>: Since the Tlatilco assemblage was not in great shape to begin with,
>: there is a *strong* possibility that the initial racial categorization is
>: dubious. STRIKE ONE!
>These statements contradict themselves. How can you claim that there are
>many Tlatilco skeletal remains that you have not examined that are spread
>throughout Mexico, and say that the findings of Wiercinski are incorrect.
>You have not examined all the skeletons so you only "know" what YOU found.
Whether Mr. Wasson was able to examine all of the same Tlatilco skulls
or not I can't answer, however, Wiercinski himself only worked with a
very fragmentary data set. Wiercinski was only able to analyze 76 of the
approx. 500 burials from Tlatilco. As Mr. Wasson points out, many of
the skulls are not in the best of shape and therefore, Wiercinski was not
able to get readings on all his attributes from many of the skulls
While you (and Wiercinski) seem to constantly stress the fact that he
identified some 13+% of the skulls as being "black" and therefore
suggestive of African contacts; you fail to mention some of the other
features of his study.
1. Not only did Wiercinski identify "black" skulls he was able to identify
the members of no less than 12 different races among the 52 Tlatilco
skulls he identified and 15 races among the 36 Monte Alban/Monte Negro
skulls he identified (Wiercinski 1970:247)
2. On page 238 Wiercinski mentions that racial types are not necessarily
equivalent to populational descent. This means that just because his
classification identifies a skull as "black" it doesn't necessarily
the person is from Africa. Many studies have demonstrated that there is
more variability between members of the same race than there is between
members of different races (for example see Lewontin 1972). For
example, there are many people who the U.S. gov. classifies as black who
nonetheless have many "white" physical characteristics. Similarly, if
you look at Wiercinski's fig. 3 you can see that there are some members
of his Mongolian (yellow race) sample who have a racial index that is
more black than almost half of his Ugandan (black race) sample and vice
versa. Racial classification schemes have been shown to be more social
than biological constructs (see Shanklin 1994) yet Wiercinski goes on
to use it as a good indicator of physical contact.
3. All the "races" he compares the Mesoamerican series to are present day
Old World populations. This ignores the possibility that new "racial"
types have developed in the New World after colonization. If this is
true then its like devising a classification scheme based on 10 breeds
of dogs and then taking the skeletons of a new breed and classifying them
using the existing scheme. By necessity you will classify them with
pre-existing breeds even if they have their own unique set of identifying
Interestingly on p. 236-237 Wiercinski does a quick comparison between
the Tlatilco series and a native "Hybrid Nahuan type" living in present
day Jalapa and Vera Cruz. Surprise, surprise, he says they are
"indistinguishable." He claims this is the result of convergent
evolution rather than the simpler explanation that they are a genetic
4. In another article, Wiercinski talked about how his study demonstrated
a social & genetic contribution from Shang Chinese and Mediterranean
whites as well as blacks (Wiercinski 1969). If this conclusion is
correct (and I don't believe it is) why should anyone believe that it
was the Africans, not the whites or Chinese, that brought about major
cultural shifts. Seems like Wiercinski's study can be used by just about
anyone to support any conclusion, except of course the sensible one that
new World pops. were able to develop their own culture without outside
5. Among the racial groups that Wiercinski identified are a group of
"blacks" of the Dongolian race and a group of "whites" of the Armemoid
race (Wiercinski 1970:247). Another study of the 78 Tlatilco skulls
was able to identify 2 types, one which they classified as typical and
the other as different (Vargas G. 1974). When he compared his groups
to Wiercinski's he said that Wiercinski's examples of the Dongolan
and the Armenoid (remember these are black and white) both belonged
to his normal group. Further he says that Wiercinski's finding of
12 races in the Tlatilco series and its implications for the racial
makeup of the population is hard to support (Vargas G. 1974:319). So
it looks like Wiercinski's findings were not supported by an independent
researcher who appears to have worked with the same data set as
Criticizing Wasson's study as inadequate while praising Wiercinski's own
fragmentary data set using questionable assumptions about the nature of
human races and typology is ridiculous.
>Moreover you claim that Cyphers excavated the first Olmec skeletons in
>1993. This is wrong, Drucker found Olmec skeletons at Veracruz in 1943.
>Please refer to M. Pailles "Pampa el Pajon an early Estuarine site
>Chiapas Mexico", ,
>no.44 (1980). Your comments about the lack of skeletons from Olmec sites
>prove YOUR significant reading of the literature on the Olmecs
Other posts by myself as well as Mr. Baker demonstrate to you that the
Drucker skulls and other skeletons referred to in Pailles are *not* Olmec.
You shouldn't be so quick to slight someone else's research when your own
is so clearly false on a given topic.
>: 3. Linguistic evidence supports African contacts with the Olmec.
>: Several people have written to the group about the "translation" of Olmec
>: celts and their supposed "Mande" connection. Such assertions are similar
>: to the translation of Ogum, Pheonecian, and Ruinic writing systems
>: throughout the Americas. They are the efforts of an over-productive
>: imagination in an attempt to support someone's strongly held ideas (i.e.
>: Madjegorie, Book of Mormon). Unfortunately, no one other than the
>: original researcher is able to "read" these celts, and the method and
>: evidence haven't been shared with other scholars. Science doesn't work
>: this way. We don't accept YOUR word that a study indicates "so-and-so",
>: when your method and results cannot be replicated without your presence,
>: and your evidence is not shared completely with the community of
>: scholars. STRIKE ONE!
>I have shared my readings of the Olmec celts to scholars, they have been
>ignored. This is to the loss of these scholars who to this day can not
>read the entire Mayan script .
>(But I can read every Olmec inscription I
>have ever attempted to read. And if you will refer to J. Guthrie's : Cameron Wesson.
1972 "The Apportionment of Human Diversity" in Evolutionary Biology
vol. 6, T. Dobzhansky et al. eds. New York: Plenum. Pp. 381-398.
1994 Anthropology and Race. Belmont: Wadsworth.
Vargas G., Luis Alberto
1974 "Caracteres Craneanos Discontinuos en la Poblacion de Tlatilco,
Mexico" Anales de Antropologia vol. 11, pp. 307-328.
1969 "Afinidades Raciales de Algunas Poblaciones Antiguas de Mexico."
Anales de INAH, 7a epoca, tomo II, pp. 123-143.
1970 "Inter and Intrapopulational Racial Differentiation of Tlatilco,
Cerro de las Mesas, Teotihuacan, Monte Alban and Yucatan Maya."
Proceedings of the 39th International Congress of Americanists.
3. MY FINAL ATTEMPT AT REASONING WITH MR. WINTERS
Mr. Winter writes:
>Doug Weller (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
>: But you haven't done that. Perhaps you haven't seen the posts
>: rebutting your argument. I certainly haven't seen any replies from
>: you to them.
>: Doug Weller Moderator, sci.archaeology.moderated
>I have read the post, they have not rebutted my arguments. Both Nancy
>McNelly and Peter van Rossum, acknowledge their disagreement with the
>findings of Wiercinski, yet they show that he is a well respected scientist
>and provide more references to his work. We can all disagree over a matter
>and never really change our views.
You seem to have missed the full import of the posts which have been
written so I will make one last attempt to explain them to you. You
say you're a seeker of the truth, so I bring you these ten truths:
1. I was the only one (yourself included) who actually made an attempt
to ascertain the credentials of Wiercinski. I found that he has
published other material in peer-reviewed physical anthropological
journals. Based on this I concluded that he shouldn't be dismissed
out of hand as a crank since at least some of his research has
scientific merit. Whether or not he is "well-respected" by his peers
I cannot say.
2. At present there is *no* evidence of the use of metal by *any*
Preclassic culture in Mesoamerica. This tends to argue against
the idea of significant contacts between Mesoamerican Preclassic
cultures and any culture which had developed metallurgy by this time.
3. The burials cited by yourself in Pailles' 1980 publication are *not*
Olmec burials. Your assertion that Dr. Diehl lied is incorrect.
4. Many Mesoamerican archaeologists today believe the Olmec style and the
Olmec people who lived in the Gulf Coast of Mexico 1500-500 B.C. are
*not* equivalent. Therefore just because "Olmec style" objects are
found at a site, it is not conclusive evidence of direct contact with
the people living in the Gulf Coast region. Therefore, it is
controversial to conclude that Tlatilco is an Olmec site. Here it
becomes a matter of definition as to what the term Olmec means - see
Grove's and Diehl's papers in "Regional Perspectives on the Olmec"
5. As stated by Mr. Baker, Monte Alban is *not* an Olmec site. Bernal's
book is excellent but now somewhat dated. On this matter, further
research showed him to be incorrect. Joyce Marcus and Kent Flannery's
1996 book "Zapotec Civilization" is an excellent summary of current
archaeological knowledge on the Prehispanic Valley of Oaxaca.
6. The term race as applied to humans has *no* genetic/biological basis.
To better understand this, do yourself a favor and pick up any recent
Intro to Anthropology text to read the section on race - its very
7. Because of point 6, it is *never* possible to use cranial measurements,
skeletal measurements, hair samples, blood samples, the "look" of
colossal heads, etc., to "prove for certain" that African peoples
traveled to the New World. True scientists use many lines of
evidence to decide which of competing arguments is best supported
by the data - they *never* prove anything for certain.
8. In our posts, Ms. McNelly and I did not "acknowledge" our disagreement
with Wiercinski. Based on points 6 & 7, we *demonstrated* that his
study is methodologically and theoretically flawed. This directly
rebuts your use of it as evidence supporting your position.
9. The flaws in Wiercinski's research are so profound that it *cannot*
be used to support the conclusion that there were skeletons of
recent African descent in the burials of Tlatilco, Oaxaca or Cerro
de las Mesas.
10. Mesoamerican archaeologists are *not* using their position to
"maintain the status quo" or "hide the truth". The reason virtually
all of them reject the idea of significant Old World-New World
contacts is because they don't see any evidence for it.
> All I have tried to due in this matter is present evidence from the
>finding of scholars relative to skeletons in ancient America. I believe I
>accomplished this goal and in the process we all had a good discussion. I
>have learned much from this posting and I hope other readers have had
I hope you demonstrate what you've learned by acknowledging the truth
of the points listed above (or explain why they are wrong). If you
wish to continue studying the Olmec, more power to you. But please
keep an open mind to the idea that Native American populations
independently produced complex civilizations by their own efforts -
just as African peoples produced wonders by theirs.
If you truly are a truth seeker, you will abandon the statement that
Wiercinski's research "proves there were Africans in Olmec sites."
Please pass this info on to any other Afrocentrists you know.
I would also suggest that in the future when you read a secondary
account of an article which claims to "prove" anything, you go back
to the original source and read it with a critical eye - even if it
supports your position.
>A discussion on the internet is not a war. It is an
>exchange of information. We will disagree, get over excited, and look
>silly at times. But we must all remember that knowledge can only advance
>if we all attempt to be civil in all matters. Take Care.
On this point we are in total agreement. I think that everyone in this
group has behaved in a very civil manner. At the very least we've all
learned who Wiercinski is and why his study is flawed.
>C. A. Winters
Best of luck,
Peter van Rossum
Originally posted by Blackmarketeer
Along with all the overwhelming evidence that the Olmec were transplants of an African culture (Google for sources), there is also DNA evidence linking the Olmec to Africa. There's also a strong correlation between the Mande language and Olmec writing.
Science magazine this week details the discovery of a stone block in Veracruz, Mexico, that contains a previously unknown system of writing; believed by archeologists to be the earliest in the Americas.
The slab - named the Cascajal block - dates to the early first millennium BCE and has features that indicate it comes from the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica. One of the archaeologists behind the discovery, Brown University's Stephen D. Houston, said that the block and its ancient script "link the Olmec civilization to literacy, document an unsuspected writing system, and reveal a new complexity to this civilization."
"It's a tantalizing discovery. I think it could be the beginning of a new era of focus on Olmec civilization," explained Houston. "It's telling us that these records probably exist and that many remain to be found. If we can decode their content, these earliest voices of Mesoamerican civilization will speak to us today."
Construction workers discovered the Cascajal block in a pile of debris in the community of Lomas de Tacamichapa in the late 1990s. Surrounding the piece were ceramic shards, clay figurine fragments, and broken artifacts of ground stone, which have helped the team date the block and its text to the San Lorenzo phase, ending about 900 BCE; approximately 400 years before writing was thought to have first appeared in the Western hemisphere.
The block weighs about 26 pounds and measures 36 cm x 21 cm x 13 cm. The text itself consists of 62 signs, some of which are repeated up to four times. There is no doubt that the piece is a written work, say the archaeologists. "As products of a writing system, the sequences would, by definition, reflect patterns of language, with the probable presence of syntax and language-dependent word order," they explain.
Interestingly, the surface containing the text appears to be concave and the team believes the block has been carved repeatedly and erased - an unprecedented discovery according to Houston, who added that several paired sequences of signs could even indicate poetic couplets.
Originally posted by parishdevin
An elephant found in olmec territory native to only africa and western asia
Originally posted by SLAYER69
reply to post by VitriolAndAngst
Well I'm all for ancient traders traveling the oceans in prehistory. The verdict however for me is still out. I do have in reserve some rather interesting information with regards to the long held beliefs that there were ancient global travelers. I will be posting that in a very large post but the puzzle pieces just don't seem to fit yet. I would like to do some more research before I go down that path.
I was hoping somebody would come forward with some new information along those lines so I could incorporate them into my new thread on that subject.
Stay tuned it will be whopper!