Thoughts for Columbus Day
Commerce around the world easily pre-dates Columbus. That we don't have much in written records doesn't mean that the archeological and genetic record doesn't show that we humans have used the oceans for commerce a lot longer than since 1492. Humans have been traveling all over the world for centuries. Siberian people's peopled the Americas, People started in Africa and then migrated to Eurasia, and then vice versa. Anyone who thinks that all this travel is one way is engaging in borderline thinking.
My own theory is that many of these trips were one way due to a combination of technological limits and human limits. For example the similarity of some South American pottery and Japanese pottery of similar period, may well owe to sailors using pacific currents to catch fish and winding up in South America. The Toltecs could be evidence of two way trade routes with Africa. And who knows, people may have crossed from the Americas to Europe and Africa in one direction and across the pacific -- long before Europeans went there in their tall ships. Thor Heyerdahl postulated that some of the people in Easter Island immigrated from the Americas -- and that others wandered in from Polynesia. Humans are remarkable. The book cited below describes how the British and other Atlantic Islands may hae been home to "Finns" who used technology similar to the Eskimos as well as other skin covered boats. He also suggested that such sailors could swim, and wore suits made of Sealskin. Such suits would have been remarkable clothing, like modern wetsuits. Certainly there were "Finns" among the Vikings. Whether they came from East or West might have been immaterial. We know that the ancients of the bronze age, got their copper and tin from Islands. Certainly the "Cassiterides", maybe the Scilly Islands too.
Who Knows? There might have been two way trade in those "dark ages." Columbus didn't discover the New World, he publicized new trade routes and stuck "For Sale by New Owner" signs on their Shores. Maybe he was looking for a place to bring friends and business partners to escape his motherland; as the day he left Spain was also Tisha B'av, and the day that Queen Isabella and Ferdinand had expelled Jews from Spain. In a way all immigrants are shipwrecked sailors. They stay, sometimes because they see opportunity, but always because they see no way home.
Wanted to write this down for future reference.