Pre-Columbian Voyages and Settlements, 5500 BC to AD 225

Written by Dr. Barry Fell

5500-5000 BC
Earliest of the inferred trans-Atlantic crossings, achieved by the Maritime Archaic Red-Paint Cultures of western Scandinavia and northwestern Europe. The archaeological remains of these people, carbon-dated in Norway to 5500 BC, are very similar to those of the Maritime Archaic Red-Paint people of Labrador and New England, carbon-dated back to 5000 BC. On both sides of the North Atlantic these people operated sea-going wooden vessels and used similar fishing devices for hunting swordfish and marine mammals.

4500 BC
Oldest known dated dolmens appear in Europe, including Ireland.

3200-1000 BC
Cup-and-ring petroglyphs are cut in rocks of Europe, notably in Britain and in North America; also elsewhere. Although examples have not yet been dated, they appear to be the work of the same sea-going peoples.

3000-1000 BC
Megalith builders active in western Europe, including Iberia and Britain, erecting dolmens, stone chambers, men-a-tol, solstice stones, and related monuments. Some American examples may date from this era. Gadelic Ogam inscriptions occur and show that Celtic language and religion had already reached both sides of the North Atlantic.

2000 BC
Sumerian political power wanes and is extinguished in Mesopotamia, under the assault of Semitic invaders. In South America Sumerian colonists appear, perhaps as refugees from their Mediterranean homeland, to establish animal husbandry and plant cultivation among the native Andean peoples of the Altiplano.

2000 BC on
The Old Copper Culture of northern Michigan and Lake Superior region, carbon-dated to this era, with some 5000 copper mines in operation on and near the Copper Peninsula. Millions of pounds of copper extracted and apparently exported abroad, as inferred by researches of mining engineers.

1700 BC
Nordic navigator-traders arrive in Ontario from Scandinavia, bringing woven textiles as barter material for Canadian copper ingots, shipped back to Scandinavia. At Peterborough site in Ontario they leave a pictorial record, annotated in Tifinag script, an early Norse language, reporting their religious, astronomical, calendric, and trading interests in their contacts with the Algonquians. Ogam and Celtic elements also present. In Ireland, the Beaker People invade and bring Celtic speech. (See MacAlister, 1977)

1500 BC on
Iberian, Celtic, and Egyptian contacts with Indian nations of the north-east. Much of the extant Algonquian vocabulary related to law, medicine, and navigation is derived from these contacts, and overseas scripts, notably the Basque syllabary and Egyptian hieroglyphs, probably acquired from this time onward.

300-100 BC
Traders from Carthage visit North America and Caribbean, bringing coinage of the issues of Punic Sicily and North Africa, the work of Greek artists, modeled on the issues of Syracuse, later bringing also low-value bronze coins of other Mediterranean states. Similar coins, often perforated with a hole for use as an ornament, likewise carried to the noncivilized Balearic Islands.

250 BC
Celtiberian and Ogam inscriptions on bone and stone artifacts buried with skeletons of both Amerind and Europoid types at sites in eastern Tennessee, and radio-carbon dated to this era, = Early Woodland Indian.

AD 1-200
Carthaginian civil calendar, lettered in degenerate late Punic script, interred with Mayan and other inscribed ceramic objects in Mayan temple and pyramid structures at Comalcalco, Mexico.

AD 225-625
Hebrew-inscribed stone at Bat Creek, Tennessee, buried with skeletons and wooden artifacts, now radio-carbon dated to this era, having previously been considered to be Cherokee and modern by Smithsonian excavators. Ancient Hebrew coins also found at other sites in southeastern states.

  • from America B.C. by Barry Fell, revised 1989.
    (Reprinted with Permission.) – [Ed.]