Proyecto Visión 21

Ancient Greeks traveled to America and Mayans built a megalopolis in the jungle

Francisco Miraval

When I was still a college student, a History professor said many times that, according to Ptolemy, Phoenicians and Romans frequently came to the Americas, either to Brazil or to Ecuador (in this case, looking for minerals.) To that list of transatlantic travelers, we should now add the Greeks, who apparently visited Canada two millennia ago.  

According to Dr. Hector Williams, of the University of British Columbia, a new understanding of a text by Plutarch (a Greek writer and biographer, 46-120) seems to indicate that when Greeks talked about “a great continent” (or territory, or country), they were actually talking about the American continent and, more specifically, Newfoundland, Canada.

It is said that there is no “concrete evidence” those trips ever tool place. However, Williams is working with experts in Greece to see if transatlantic journeys were possible in ancient times and, if they were, where modern researchers should look for evidence and what kind of evidence could be found.

Keep in mind Phoenicians traveled around the Mediterranean Sea 2000 years before the Greeks supposedly traveled to Canada. And, by the time the Greeks came here (in the 1st century), Greeks have been using for at least 200 years portable “computers” to measure the movement of planets and stars, thus measuring the position of a ship. Such a mechanism was found a century ago at a sunken ship in Antikhytera.

In addition, it is worth noting that Kepler, the famous 17th century astronomer, also concluded after reading Plutarch that ancient Greeks traveled to America.

It is unlikely Greeks ever met the Mayans, but, according to a recent story by National Geographic, Mayans built a huge city (more than 60.000 structures) in what it is today northern Guatemala. In fact, there was a previously unknown network of cities in the region, where there where “millions of more people” than what researchers estimated before.

Thanks to advanced technology (LiDAR), researchers investigated ten areas in northern Guatemala, discovering homes, palaces, temples, and even raised “highways”. They now say Mayans were one of the two biggest societies ever established in the tropics, being Angkor Wat, Cambodia, the other one. And they say Mayan culture was as sophisticated as Chinese or Greek cultures.

So, we can say that it is probable that 2000 years ago Greeks visited America (at the same time that Romans also came here.) And we can say that it has been proven that 1200 years ago a sophisticated Mayan culture existed in Guatemala, almost forgotten until now, yet certainly among the greatest cultures in history.

Therefore, we need to ask, how many other moments of our own past, the human past, we still don’t know? And, how many wrong ideas we still have about our history because we don’t know our whole history?

In the same way that small children are mostly unaware of the history of their own parents (or of the world), perhaps we, an immature civilization, are just now and very slowly beginning to understand our own past.

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