Did the Phoenicians Discover America? - Thomas C. Johnston

This fascinating account of the worldwide Phoenician trading network makes a convincing case that the ancient mariners had access to sophisticated technology, including magnetic compasses and were able to navigate across oceans during Biblical times. The author demonstrates dozens of astonishing similarities between Phoenician, Polynesian, and Mesoamerican culture and makes a convincing case the Aztecs and other central American civilizations were deeply influenced by Phoenician colonists. Such theories were widely discussed over 100 years ago, but are usually ignored rather than seriously engaged by modern scholars.

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[Frontispiece] from Did Phoenicians Discover America?  by Thomas C. Johnston

The Phoenicians

Upon the Erythrean sea the people live

Who style themselves Phoenicians. These are sprung

From the true Erythrean stock,

From the sage race, who first essayed the deep,

And wafted merchandise to coasts unknown.

These too, digested first the starry choir,

Their motions marked, and called them by their name.

—Dionysius (from Pliny, v. 965).

[Title Page] from Did Phoenicians Discover America?  by Thomas C. Johnston


The problem of the original discovery of America is no new one. Ever since indisputable traces of the presence of the early Scandinavian Rovers or Vikings were noted on the north-east coast of the great western continent, speculation has been busy as to the character, habits, and race of these primal colonists. One fact soon emerged that the Scandinavians were far from being the first to land on and colonise portions of the vast territory. Traces were discovered of earlier visits that throw the date back upwards of 2500 years or even 3000 years to about the epoch of the Trojan War; while other theories cast it still further "into the deep backward and abysm of time."

The present volume in many respects breaks new ground in the geographico-ethnological study of the globe. The author, Mr. Thomas Crawford Johnston, studies the remains which the Phoenicians have left in various parts of the world, such as the shores of the Levant, of Spain, and of Britain, where traces of their art, of their trade, and of their commercial and colonial settlements were most in evidence. These he compares with those left in various parts of America, and comes to the conclusion that they are all so closely allied as to have emanated from the same source. Mr. Crawford Johnston wins support for his theory by the calm, methodical, systematic way in which every item of information bearing on the subject is carefully weighed. He makes out a strong case for the Phoenicians being the original discoverers of America. He also contends that the "Ophir" of Scripture was situated in America, in support of this theory adducing some remarkable evidences of Phoenician settlement on the American mainland. Though the fact has long been known that the early Toltec and Aztec civilisation of Central America was not indigenous, the information which Mr. Johnston cites in support of his theory adds materially to the sum total of our knowledge of the case.

To all interested in ethnological as well as anthropological science, I would warmly recommend this volume as one calculated to please as well as to instruct. They will find here, apart from the argument, a fund of interesting facts that throws light on many disputed points regarding early tribal customs and acts of sacrificial worship. For the land of "Ophir" having been in America, he forges a really strong chain of argument which students of the subject would do well to weigh carefully and calmly. No one will rise from the perusal of the treatise without feeling convinced that it has been written by a man possessed of strong convictions, of keen reasoning powers, of varied scholarship, and of a most reverent mind. I have perused the work with pleasure and profit.


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