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Did Phoenician cargo ships visit North America?

Did Phoenician cargo ships visit North America?

Indigenous Americans probably “discovered” Europe around 3,000 BC.  Any voyages since then from the Old World were “Johnny come lately’s.”

Like most people of Native American descent, I bristle whenever someone starts out with the premise that their particular ancestors in the Old World “discovered America” and taught the dim-witted locals how to build mounds and pyramids. These persons then look around selectively for any construed evidence that proves their presumption right and ignore any evidence that contradicts their mythology.  That is not scientific research.  That is ethnocentric ego-stroking.

So to nip that particular mythology in the bud, here are the facts.  The oldest known stonehenges are in Alberta Province, Canada – c. 3,500 BC.  Stonehenges appeared in the British Isles about 500 years later. Dr. Gordon Freeman of the University of Alberta has excavated strong evidence in Wales that the British stonehenges were introduced by Indigenous Americans. The oldest known mounds in the Americas are (1) Bilbo Mound, Savannah, GA – c. 3,540 BC, (2) Sechin Bajo Mound, Peru – c. 3,500 BC and (3) Watkins Brake Earthen Ring, Louisiana – 3,400 BC.  

That time period predates the earliest Egyptian pyramids by 900 years, the existence of the Hebrew People by 2,300 years and the exile of the ten tribes of Israel by 2,750 years.  There are stone “pyramids” in Peru that slightly predate those in Egypt. The Egyptians, Libyans, Phoenicians, Sumerians, Hebrews, Babylonians, Sub-Saharan Africans, Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodians, Malaysians, Irish, Welsh, Muslims and Slobobvians did not teach indigenous Americans how to build anything.

Being tall does not make one a Viking.  Having a mustache and/or beard does not make one a European.  Wearing a turban does not make one a Muslim.  The Creek and Calusa People of the Southeast and the Ona People of Patagonia averaged a foot taller than Europeans. At the time of European Contact, Creek men wore mustaches and their leaders wore goatee like beards.  This is true for several Mexican civilizations, too. In Peru, 5,000 year old mummies have been found, wearing turbans. 

That being said, there are stone structures and petroglyphs in North Georgia, petroglyphs in southwestern Ireland, southwestern Iberia and southern Scandinavia, plus a stone stela in Campeche State, Mexico that I, as a historic preservation architect, cannot explain with the current orthodoxy that the first contact between the Old and New Worlds was accomplished by the Vikings. 

Readers should be reminded that the Uchee (Yuchi) People believe that they originated in the “Home of the Sun” on the east side of the Atlantic and landed in North America in the region around Savannah, Georgia.  Until the late 1600s, the greatest concentration of Uchee villages was in the region between the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers in Georgia.

Many of you are probably aware that at several locations in the Americas, stone tablets have been found that seem to contain the most ancient forms of alphabetic writing – either from Phoenicia or Crete. Several have dubious origins and are probably hoaxes. Others are bitterly attacked by conservative academicians as being hoaxes, but the detractors really have no evidence to prove that they are hoaxes.  Thus, these tablets are not thoroughly substantiated evidence that can be used as proof of anything.

MetcalfStoneThe Metcalf Stone, found near Columbus, GA is definitely not a hoax.  All that detractors can say is that the eight European style letters are probably not Linear A writing from Crete. However, no one knows the date that these letters were carved.  We will just have to let the experts continue to argue on the matter.

Architecture is another matter.  Then I become the expert and the epigraphic experts, who consistently know very little about world architectural history, must remain silent.  This ancient structure is a doozy, though.


Nodoroc Temple

Nodoroc is a dormant mud volcano in Northeast Metro Atlanta.  The word is Late Medieval Dutch and means “Swamp Smoking.”   The Melilot European Colony (1565-c.1696) was a few miles away, which probably explains the Dutch name.

Nodoroc4At the time that Nodoroc was first visited by British traders from South Carolina in the late 1600s, there was a roofless, triangular temple adjacent to the mud volcano.  It was constructed of quarried stones and contained a large, carved stone altar inside with three steps.  The ruins were much the same when Anglo-American settlers arrived in the region in 1787.

In 1839, outgoing Georgia Governor, George Gilmer, paid an architect to measure the stone temple.  The architect then supervised workmen, who disassembled the temple and hauled the stones to Gilmer’s plantation near Lexington, GA.   The temple was never rebuilt, but the stone altar was used for many decades as a stepping platform for carriages.   Most of the quarried stones are piled up near a highway on the land of the former plantation.  Some are on display at the Jackson County History Museum in Jefferson, GA.

StackedRocksI had never heard of a triangular temple in the Americas.  They were just not a tradition in either Mesoamerica or South America.  In fact, the only locations where I could find architecture similar to this temple were at Early Bronze Age sites on the islands of Cyprus, Crete and Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea.  These temples dated from the period between 2300 BC and 1800 BC.  That is the exact period when the first pottery in North America appeared in the Lower Savannah River Basin.

The stones looked familiar.  I searched my memory bank and then my color slide boxes from when I worked in Europe.  The stones were an identical shape and size to those of Bronze Age temples that I visited on the island of Sicily . . . again, in the Mediterranean Sea. However, these temples were rectangular.  You go figure!

Campeche Stela

While I was studying at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City, an archaeological team from Tulane University found a very old stone stela near the Gulf Coast.  It appeared to date from the Olmec Civilization or the Formative Period of the Maya Civilization.  The stela portrayed a man wearing a kilt and cone shaped cap.  He had a curly goatee and Semitic facial features.  He was holding a rope from which was suspended a lantern-shaped, stone anchor.

The discovery received considerable newspaper and TV publicity at the time. An expert on the Bronze Age stated that the figure was a Bronze Age sailor from Iberia, Carthage, Phoenicia or one of the Phoenician colonies in the Mediterranean. I got to see the stela, while studying Maya cities in Campeche.  I had an INAH ID badge and so the Tulane archaeologists let me see it, even though the public was barred. I was not allowed to photograph the stela, however. By golly, this fellow with a cone cap didn’t look like any Mayan I had ever seen.

Actually, by then, they were not letting the press in either, because of all the post-publicity about the stela from Mormon publications, plus Barry Fell and Erich Von Däniken . . .  two “alternative history” proponents, who were at the peak of their popularity.  Fell believed that Native American architecture was invented by Egyptians, Libyans and Celts, while Von Däniken gave credit to extraterrestrials, Phoenicians and Egyptians for Mesoamerican civilizations.

Baal-HaddadThe INAH and Tulane University did not want to be associated with any fringe archaeology and so quietly let the public forget about the stela.   It could be seen in some books, published in the 1980s, but is long forgotten now.

The stela could well portray a person from Carthage, Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete or Iberia.  Recently, a Carthaginian temple has been discovered in the Canary Islands. However, there is absolutely no similarity between Phoenician-Carthaginian architecture and Maya architecture.  Furthermore, the Assyrians conquered the Phoenicians BEFORE they conquered Israel.  After around 800 BC, Phoenician Civilization shifted to Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean Basin.  The city states of Greece then dominated eastern Mediterranean trade.


This was not stated by “experts” at the time of the stela’s discovery, but several years later I realized while visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris that the figure in the Maya stela was quite similar to a portrayal of the Phoenician god, Baal, on a Phoenician stela displayed there.  (Image to the left)  The Phoenician stela shows Baal carrying a raptor, while the Maya stela is definitely an lantern-shaped object. The Baal figure has horns, while the Maya figure does not.  Baal’s horns are the source of the Judeo-Christian image of the devil.   However, otherwise the body posture is the same;  even the artistic style is the same.   This is one of those few cases where one can definitely see an Old World influence on New World art.

Petroglyphs in North Georgia, County Kerry and Ven Island

As the People of One Fire has mentioned in several previous articles, there was a network of petroglyphic boulders in the North Georgia Gold Belt, which are very similar to petroglyphic boulders in County Kerry, on the southwestern tip of Ireland.  In fact, the Reinhardt Boulder, on display at the Funk Heritage Museum,  is virtually identical to a boulder on the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry.  Several of these symbols are very much part of Uchee religious tradition.


The aboriginal people of Ireland and Scotland were called Ciarraighe, which means “dark skinned people.”  They had bronze skin, black hair and facial features, different from most Europeans.  They sound like a hybrid Asiatic-Caucasian race.  They also could be peoples associated with the Phoenician Civilization.   Even today,  people living on the western edge of Ireland and northwestern Scotland have DNA similar to the oldest populations of the Iberian Peninsula and Sardenia.

CountyKerryThe Ciarraighe were forced out of Ireland, the Orkney Islands and much of Scotland by apocalyptic floods resulting from 20 years of rain that began around 2340 BC.  The timing is exactly right for the abandonment of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands and the appearance of pottery and shell rings on the South Atlantic Coast.

During the Bronze Age, the west coast of Ireland was on an aquatic interstate highway, operated by the Phoenicians that interconnected the Iberian Peninsula, Ireland, southern England, northern Scotland, the Orkney Islands and southern Scandinavia.  Copper, tin, bronze, gold, silver and amber was its most important commodities.

The northern base for that aquatic expressway was Ven Island in the Oresund Channel between  Helsingør, Denmark and Landskrona, Sweden.  This was in the Bronze Age era before Germanic Scandinavians moved northward and occupied Scandinavian.  A few mixed blood Gamla Folk (Ancient People) survive in the mountains between Sweden and Norway.  They look like many of the people of County Kerry and have the same facial features as the Uchee, minus the bronze skin complexion and black hair.


Kyrka Klipa (Church Cliff) on Ven Island, Sweden

On the west side of Ven Island, at the base of cliffs beneath St. Ibbs Church, are petroglyphic boulders with the same symbols as found on the Reinhardt Petroglyphic Boulder . . . concentric circles, solar crosses and hexagons.

To the east in the Swedish province of Skǻne are hundreds of dome-shaped mounds with log-lined burial tombs inside.  They are identical in all ways to the earliest Adena Culture mounds of the Ohio Valley and Upper Southeast.  Keep in mind that the people, who built these tombs looked much more like Native Americans than the modern day Scandinavians.  Did Phoenician cargo ships provide them transport to the rich deposits of gold and copper in the Southern Highlands.  It is a distinct possibility, but no one has proved it.  In fact, few people have even asked the question.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    I did astronomy programs focusing on Greek and Roman star patterns. This led to research into other culture’s constellations. The most striking similarity was that Orion was a hunter in many unrelated cultures. In Egypt, he was Osiris. Information had to travel with people.

    One item of note, DNA evidence indicates that all indigenous people to North and South America had a common ancestor in that a specific genetic marker is found universally. One problem in North America is that many indigenous people are mixed with European, Asian or African ancestry and they may not have the marker.


      You can use my DNA to test, but we already know that we, North, Central, and South Americans, have common ancestors. The awesome thing is that carbon dating puts us as civilized before the “Old World.” This is the best article. Very proud.

      Also, the information did not have to travel either. It is quite appearant that the sky was much brighter without the fluorescent light bulb, and just the look at the constellation shows a midsection with resemblance to those that look like human. I vote the “Egyptians” learned all they know from the New World!

    • Ann
      As far as I know, no genetic tests have been done on the Uchee. Even with full-blooded Uchee there is a problem, because they have traditionally intermarried with the Creeks and in one province, the Shawnee.


    Hey Richard
    Your friend Scott Wolters in the episode of America Unearthed
    called the Great Copper Heist
    said about 1billion pounds of copper had been mined in that area before the 1800’s and noone is sire what happened to most of it.
    Carbon-14 test on timbers in one mine showed an age of 5000 years.
    Based on that finding who had the skills and knowledge to do that?
    The people around the Mediterranean Sea did at that time . Plus they had the motivation of tradeto drive them.
    Thanks again for a wonderful article

    • Actually, the oldest radiocarbon date at those copper mines is around 5000 BC, not 3000 BC. I am inclined to think that an advanced indigenous people mined the copper and eventually began transporting it to Ireland for resale. This would explain the arrival in the British Isles from Canada of ideas about building stonehenges around 3,000 BC.

      Still can’t get my time machine to work! When it is working, I will give you a definitive answer to this riddle.

      • The flaw in most all the Euro-centric and Asia-centric theories I run across is that the writers start with a theory that magnifies the importance of their particular ethnic group, then flounders around in superficial cultural features to pick and chose “facts” that prove they are right. POOF researchers don’t do that. We actually have no theories. We just follow the evidence, wherever it leads. All of us Creeks are mixed race to varying degrees now, and the Creek Confederacy began as an alliance of at least two dozen indigenous ethnic groups from around the Americas . . . There is no incentive for Heinz 57 people to claim to be the Master Race. LOL

        There is no physical or linguistic evidence of a Chinese presence in the Southeastern United States. We are a long way from the Pacific Ocean. Some Chinese scholar looked at a single example of Muskogean art and said, “Oh wow, that looks something like our art. Since we are the master race, we Chinese must of sailed boats to Alabama and introduced it.” The latest thing is that a Chinese professor saw the English word Muskogee and said, “Oh wow, the Creek Indians were Muslims, because they called themselves the Mosque Indians. Well, no. The actual Creek word is Mawsko-ki and it means “Medicinal Herb People.” It was not even used until the mid-1700s.

        A Chinese writer claims that the Chinese sailed up the Mississippi River and founded Cahokia. A Muslim writer says that Arab explorers sailed up the Mississippi River and founded Cahokia. Both are dumb asses. Nothing much larger than a large trade canoe could get up the Mississippi River past New Orleans, until the US Army Corps of Engineers dug a channel and built levees to raise the water level.

        However there is substantial evidence of the same hybrid Asiatic-European people once lived on both sides of the Atlantic. Since is much easier to ride the Gulf Stream from Savannah to County Kerry, Ireland than to return, it is quite likely that initial settlement went from North America to northwestern Europe, but intermittent two-way cultural exchanges continued until the end of the Bronze Age. There are shared words, art and DNA between the Uchee of Georgia and the aboriginal people of Western Ireland, France and Iberia.

        That Phoenicians sailed to the Americas is possible, but not definite. We don’t have the DNA and shared artistic traditions like we do with Ireland, to go beyond speculation now.


    Richard, Another Great article !!! One note… the ancients had much bigger ships as Julius Caesar stated the Keltic people of Alba, Armorica had ships that looked like large cargo mover type ships with leather sails. The closest Copal, Gold, gems, tar source on this land (“Havila”), to the other large land mass (“Kush”) as noted by the Bible, was the Kingdom of the Apalacha. “Vila” means Village, a Pre-Keltic word of Spain perhaps indicating a migration event that some left from this land long ago to cross the Atlantic and I might note the “5 sided mounds” of Georgia do appear to look like the front of a large ship. Ships of Tarshish? The seafaring people of Havila continued to have a Good trade network of copper, Gold, Copal, gems with the “black Irish” Native American people and most likely the Phoenician (PO-NI-KI) and the Amorites (Ala-si-ya) had these large cargo type ships working with the Chiska and the Apalachi peoples.


    The Lake Michigan submerged ‘Stonehenge’ dates even further back – at least 10’000 yrs.


    Read this pinned paper by Terry Noble on our group facebook page and think about it in relation to the flooding in northern Scotland. The time periods match up. This was the time of Great Lake Nipissing and the Chicsgo River allowed access to Isle Royale, MI.


    Richard Thornton, I was amazed by your article! I grew up in the LDS church and at some point in my life decided to question my inherited beliefs. I now try to research these possibilities of old world and new world connections with an open mind. I’d like to learn more and found your information very interesting.

    • Glad that you enjoy our research reports. We have no theories or beliefs that we are trying to prove, but rather are following evidence, wherever it leads. Creek monotheism is as ancient as YHWH of the Hebrews, but evolved from belief in an invisible female sun goddess, Amana . . . kind of a mirror image of the Hebrew war god that became YHWH. It really made the white missionaries upset because Creek women were equal in all things and our God was a female. Actually, the belief is quite logical. Only a mother could love her human children, despite their many flaws. The ancestors of the Creeks came from many parts of Mesoamerica, plus eastern Peru, southwestern Bronze Age Ireland and southern Bronze Age Scandinavia. Those from Europe were Eurasians, who were pushed out by invading Indo-Europeans around 1200 BC.


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