The ruins and remains of Mexico's pre-Columbian
civilizations enchant, intrigue, fascinate and puzzle. Of them the oldest
and earliest, that of people referred-to as Olmecs, is the most enigmatic
-- for they challenge present-day scholars to explain how had people from
Africa come and settled and thrived in this part of the New World, thousands
of years before Columbus.
|We know how they looked because they left behind countless
sculptures, marvelously carved in stone, depicting them; some, in fact, are
stone portraits of Olmec leaders; colossal in size, they immortalize in stone
what, to many, has been an unpleasant enigma.
The first colossal stone head was discovered in the
Mexican state of Veracruz back in 1869. Its discoverer reported it in the
Bulletin of the Mexican Geographical and Statistical Society as "a magnificent
sculpture that most amazingly represents an Ethiopian." The report included
a drawing clearly showing the stone head's Negroid features; and that doomed
the discovery to oblivion...
It was not until 1925 that the existence of the Olmecs
was reaffirmed when an archaeological team from Tulane University found another
such gigantic stone head in the adjoining Mexican state of Tabasco; it measured
about eight feet in height and weighed some twenty four tons.
time, many more such colossal sculptures have been found; they depict distinctly
different individuals wearing helmets; they also clearly depict, in each
case, a person with African features -- black Africans.
As archaeological discovery followed archaeological
discovery, it became evident that in a vast central area of Mexico stretching
from the Gulf coast to the Pacific coast, these "Olmecs" built major urban
centers, engaged in mining, were the first in Mesoamerica to have a calendar
and hieroglyphic writing, and established what is by now recognized as
Mesoamerica's Mother Civilization.
The problem that this posed was twofold: Not only the
issue of Negroid Africans somehow crossing the Atlantic Ocean and settling
in the New World before others; but also the incredible antiquity
of such arrival. This problem was dealt with by first suggesting that the
Olmecs appeared after more famed peoples such as the Mayas; then by grudgingly
acknowledging earlier dates B.C. --250 B.C., then 500 B.C., then 1250 B.C.,
then even 1500 B.C.
Faced with such evidence, the solution was to deny
that these were Africans ... Even now a noted scholar, writing in the official
catalogue of the Museum of Anthropology of Jalapa, states in regard to the
individuals depicted in the sculptures: "in spite of the general similarity
of features -- flat noses with flaring nostrils and thickened lips (leading
some to falsely claim an African origin for the Olmec)," etc.
So: "To falsely claim an African origin for
And this brings me to the Case of the Missing
An Elephant Among the
Jalapa, a gem of a town, is about two hours' drive
from Veracruz (where the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes landed in 1519).
Its museum is undoubtedly second only to the famed one in Mexico City; but
unlike Mexico City's which displays artifacts from all over the country,
the Jalapa one exhibits only locally discovered artifacts -- predominantly
Dramatically and effectively displayed in an innovative
setting, the Museum boasts several colossal stone heads as well as other
stone sculptures. It also displays smaller objects found at Olmec sites;
among them, in special display showcases, are what are considered to be Olmec
"toys." They include animals mounted on wheels -- a visual and evidentiary
negation of the common claim that the people of Mesoamerica (and America
in general) were unfamiliar with the wheel.
And included in the same display case were
elephants -- "toys" made of clay.
Gone - Where and
I, and some of my fans who accompanied me, saw them
on previous visits to the Museum.
BUT when I (and again some of my fans with me) was
there recently -- in December 1999 -- the elephants were nowhere in
I could find no one in authority to obtain an explanation
from. But that the elephants were once there was a fact indeed, here is a
photograph of one, shot on a previous visit:
here is the significance of this small artifact: There are no, and never
have been, elephants in the Americas. There are and have been elephants in
Africa. And a depiction of an elephant could have been made only by someone
who has seen an elephant, i.e. someone who has been to
At this and other museums later visited in December
1999, guards have asserted that objects that I wished to point out
and that were written up in my book The Lost Realms but somehow
vanished, were loaned for an overseas exhibit.
Perhaps. But that such a hard-to-explain depiction
of an elephant would be selected to highlight Mexico's ancient heritage,
is either unlikely or highly significant.
I suppose one will have to revisit Jalapa and find
out whether the little elephant is back among the "toys."
© Z. Sitchin 2000
Reproduction is permitted if accompanied by the
© Z. Sitchin 2000
Reproduced by permission.