Technically America was discovered by the first people to cross the Baring Straits during the Ice Ages, the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of that ancient continent. But from a European perspective the term applies to the first arrivals from the other side of the Atlantic

Historically the Italian Christopher Columbus and his Portuguese crew are credited as the first of these arrivals in 1502 on an expedition to discover India on a westward track. But then history has always been a mere consensus of prejudice, and opinions have now diversified.

However the true pioneers of the journey are hard to discover as little evidence of their presence exists. The earliest claim is probably for the Egyptians, Minoans, or Phoenicians but while the ships of these seafaring peoples could have theoretically have made the journey (as Thor Heyerdahl demonstrated), it is unlikely they could have made it back again (despite claims that the continent originated the Atlantis legend). Mayan sculptures, carved long before the first historical trans-Atlantic arrivals, do appear to depict Egyptian, African, European and Semitic faces however, something that remains a mystery. Other circumstancial evidence exists for this early contact but none is conclusive.

Later contact is accredited to British seafarers, either from the Romano-British period or the early Dark Ages. But again little if any evidence exists for this claim (it may have been a piece of (Elizabethan propaganda). The earliest concrete claim for a returned journey to the Americas is a Viking one. There is now a mounting body of evidence that by sailing along the coastline of Greenland and making short hops in open sea the Vikings Leif the Lucky and Thorfinn Karlsefni reached Newfoundland, or Vinland as they called it (due to its profusion of wild grapes), and established a colony there around the year 1000 A.D. There is also some possibility that the Welsh Prince Madoc captured Viking maps and attempted to establish a colony in Alabama in the 12th Century. A related claim is that the Norman family of Sinclair Earls of the Scots-Norse Orkneys also obtained Viking maps and made similar voyages.

This last claim ties in with more speculative allegations that families like the Sinclairs inherited a Templar tradition and maintained contacts with other alleged Templar survivals, such as the Portugese Knights of Christ (and Christopher Columbus). But much of this is unverifiable.

The first colonialists, after the brief Viking stay, may have been Scots, Welsh or Portugese. Certainly tribes of 'white Indians' had been reported indicating early colonists had gone native (see Croatan). One of whom was reported to have spoken a form of Welsh (perhaps from the Madoc expedition)! There is also some evidence of Scots in America closely connected with the Vinland colony and its expeditions further south. But it is the Melungeons who are the most intrigueing, a 'tribe of white Indians' according to official history, they denied either Indian or English descent claiming to be Portuguese ("Portyghee") or sometimes Spanish/Moorish or Turkish. Their original language was a mixure of Elizabethan English and Portugese, indicating a hybrid origin, though their ethnicity appears predominantly of Mediterreanean origin. Their descendents survive today and are predominantly Catholic, their original faith they claim. These people have also been connected to the construction of the mysterious Newport Tower on Rhode Island. A structure apparently modelled on the kind of Templar round churches found in Portugal.

The Elizabethan English connection is not surprising as the first recorded colony, in what became the United States was the settlement of Roanoake founded soon after the explorations of Sir Walter Raleigh (a member of the School of Night). The descendents of these people are known to have been the 'first' Croatans.

Subsequent colonisation follows the official historical scheme with both a grassroots American utopian current and one of imperialist ambitions.

Prologue:

In the course of history, there have been three major discoveries of America. The first discovery was made by Asians from 30,000 to 10,000 years ago. These Asians followed herds and plants across a landbridge across the Bering Strait. They came in waves for 20,000 years because the landbridge was sometimes flooded, stopping migration. The second discovery of America was by the Vikings, who discovered America in 986 CE. However, the Vikings got in fights with the Native Americans, and abandoned their settlement permanently around 1010. The third and probably most famous discovery was by Christopher Columbus, who, in 1492, sailed the ocean blue. I will not go into further detail about Colombus' discovery, since it is already described in detail in Biblos' writeup in this node. Rather, I will attempt to answer this question: which discovery was the most important?

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DISCOVERIES OF AMERICA

Most people would say that the Viking discovery of America was the least important, since it did not have much historical significance. This is due to the fact that the Vikings remained on the continent for only a small amount of time. In this short period of time, they did not interact much with the natives or with the environment. They left barely any permanent marks, and didn't really learn anything new before they fled. The Viking discovery of America could be removed from history and nobody would ever notice.

Or would they? Christopher Columbus found many of his father-in-law's papers, which include interviews with sailors and maps of the ocean. Since the knowledge of the Vikings was spread widely through the North Atlantic, which Columbus knew like the back of his hand, it is very possible that he learned about the Vikings' quest to America. It is also possible that these tales are part of what made of him sail west. Therefore, it is very possible that, if the Vikings had never made it to America, Columbus never would have either. This would have extreme phistorical significance]. That would leave the first discovery as the least important.

Or would it? If the first discovery never happened, then the Vikings would probably colonize America themselves. It is very likely that we would never have heard of Columbus, and that the United States, or its equivalent, would be a Viking-ruled country. This would mean that the first discovery is very historically significant, for had it not happened, the Vikings would rule the Americas. So, now that we have said that the first and second discoveries are both very historically significant, we must conclude that the third discovery is the least important.

Or can we? If the third discovery were never to happen, then it is very likely that we would not be here today. The Native Americans would grow and advance. They might have fought amongst or banded with each other until there were a few large countries in the Americas. Or, they might develop like Africa, with many, many countries on the continents. They would probably come find the Europeans. In either, case, the world would be very, very different. So, due to the circular nature of this argument, unless one can disprove one of the arguments presented here, one must conclude that all the discoveries are equally important. In any case, this writeup would be a lot easier to write if America had never been discovered.

Epilogue:

Or would it? If America didn't exist, it is probably safe to say that the technological revolution...


Sources:
Mostly: rdude's brain
Sort of: Garrraty, John A. The Story of America, Volume 1. Chicago, US: © 1992 Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

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