Did the phoenicians visit Brazil?

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Luciana
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Did the phoenicians visit Brazil?

Post by Luciana »

There's a History right up there at the forum description, so here I go...

Did the phoenicians visit Brazil?

In 1872, a letter, containing the drawing of a supposedly phoenician inscription, was sent to the Institute of History and Geography. This Institute was sponsored by D. Pedro II, the Brazilian emperor. He was a cultured man and an enthusiast of Brazil's tropical idiosyncrasies. He was so involved that he took the role of professor in a number of occasions.

The author of the letter claimed that the stone that contained the incription had already been broken apart by his slaves, but that his son had diligently copied the drawings. He was unsure what to make of it, and that's why he sent it to the appreciation of wiser men.

In two months the translation was completed. The text referred to a Biblical passage, which described the phoenician's trade through the Mediterranean, and how one of the vessels had been lost at sea and they had come upon a distant land, 12 men and 3 women.

This discovery immediately raised some eyebrows. Investigations were fruitless in finding the author of the letter, and some doubted that this translation could have happened so fast. And yet, that didn't stop the story from spreading - all over the world newspapers were reporting the presence of phoenician's in Brazil!

The director of the National Museum, Ladislau Neto, who had translated the piece, started to have some doubts himself. He submitted the text to the French Orientalist Ernest Renan, the most prominent man in this field. Renan had some reservations with the text. He claimed that certain expressions had been lifted from well-known phoenician's text.

Ladislau Neto, although deeply disappointed, announced to the world, 10 years later, that he was mistaken, and that the inscription was a hoax. But he was still very much curious regarding the identity of the hoaxer. He reckoned that only five men in the country would have been able to concoct that text, and 4 of them were foreigner. The Brazilian expert was above suspicion, in his opinion. In order to discover the truth, he elaborated a plan - wrote a piece to these specialists, in the hopes that, with the answer, he would be able to recognize their calligraphy. That, and a second minor hoax, confirmed the identity of the practical joker.

No doubt - the hoaxer was one of the foreigners: Mr. Carl Frederick Koch... but he worked for the very man that was above all suspicion - the Emperor himself! Now Ladislau knew the truth, but he could not divulge it. More than a century later, it's not known why the Emperor would do that. More importantly, the myth that phoenician's visited Brazil remains strong with every possible variation.

Many rocks have been analyzed for inscriptions, and they were all ruled out as fakes. Somehow, it has remained in the subconscious of people who fancy the idea of having phoenician's in the Brazilian coast, regardless the complete absence of evidence.

So that's a piece of history for you. Hope you have enjoyed it. :)

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Hexxenhammer
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Post by Hexxenhammer »

This sounds like Minnesota's hoax that everyone wants to believe. The Kensington Rune Stone. This stone tablet supposedly describes the journey of some vikings from Vinland to the St. Lawrence seaway, and all the way down to Alexandria, Minnesota. Although its most definitly a hoax, people still refer to it all the time as if it were true.

Here's a link to it's history and debunking:
http://www.uiowa.edu/~anthro/webcourse/ ... nstone.htm
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Hexxenhammer
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Post by Hexxenhammer »

I guess no one else has any local hoaxes, Luciana.

Losers.
"I'll have the roast duck with the mango salsa."

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Nyarlathotep
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

Hexxenhammer wrote:I guess no one else has any local hoaxes, Luciana.

Losers.
Winston Wu tried to claim that the ghost of a famous local prostitute haunted the opera house where she worked as an actress even though:

A) She never worked as an actress

and

B) The Opera house was built nine years after she died

Does that count?

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Nyarlathotep
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

On a more serious note. I remember reading reports of people seeing dinosaurs up by Lake Tahoe in the 19th century. But I can't find anything online about those reports, though as I recall they were a practical joke gone awry.

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Guy Noir
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Post by Guy Noir »

We had/have our own local hoax in Michigan.

http://www.michigan.gov/hal/0,1607,7-16 ... --,00.html
Between 1890 and 1920, Michigan was the site of archaeological discoveries of mysterious clay, stone and copper artifacts. Known as the Michigan Relics, the artifacts bore intriguing images and strange writing, igniting a debate that continues to this day. The artifacts and the arguments surrounding them have come to downtown Lansing.
Not much controversy in reality. The “ancient” clay tablets were tested and found to dissolve in water. Not many people know about the relics. Never found anyone who believes they are real.
[Insert pointless political statement here.]

Luciana
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Post by Luciana »

Don't they, Guy Noir? Because I wonder if the idea of archeological relics in Michigan, even if the artifacts have been debunked, has not remained, to the point that people would be more prone to believing its authenticity if another relics ever comes forth?

This is where I'm getting at... it doesn't matter that the notion has been debunked, as some of it will remain in people's subconcious. Maybe, say, parts of alien spaceships would not be so believed as would newly found archeological relics?

Those poor phoenicians... can you imagine them climbing such a mountain in Rio?:

Image

And yet that has been the legend for nearly 60 years. Unindentified inscriptions have been found in the uppermost area of that mountain, known as Pedra da Gávea, in Rio. It stood in front of a "portal", and some said that was a magical portal that would take you to another dimension... or, less wild than that, it was believed that the phoenician's hid treasure behind that rock door.

I hope against hope no one believes that anymore. For starts, the incriptions are less than 100 years' old, as specialists have determined it. Most likely, a prank. And, second, what looks like a portal - I saw it in TV, it's oval shaped and it looks detached from the surrounding cavern, very impressive - is just solid rock. It is by no means a portal. Just a very curious rock formation.

I think that if someone ran a research in the streets of Rio, maybe a sizable portion of the population would state that, as a fact, the phoenicians had been in Rio. If only because they heard the two words together "phoenicians, Rio" often enough.

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Chaos
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Post by Chaos »

The only urban legend I can think of around here (Frankfurt, Germany) is one that many (most) locals don´t even know about. It was Rikzilla, of all people, who told me about it.

When he realized I was from near Frankfurt, where he´d been stationed during the 80´s, he asked if I knew what was up with the McNair barracks. He told me of a rumor that, in the last days of WW2, the retreating nazi´s had booby-trapped the underground garage of their installation at that site, and that the Americans, not wanting to take a chance with all those explosives, just flooded the garage and sealed it - and it was supposed to have remained flooded and sealed to this day, though it seems nobody ever saw it with his own eyes.
I have no idea of whether or not this is true, but it appears unlikely that a site above a flooded underground garage (with live explosives in it) remains in use - by the military, of all organizations. Aren´t live explosives too dangerous, even when they are that old? And wouldn´t all the water soak the walls and ceiling, and weaken the structural integrity? I really don´t know what to think of this.

Another, better known legend, from all over Germany, was that the Nazis had hidden lots of their treasures and their secret weapons in caverns and underground bunkers before the war was over, and if you knew where to search, you could find one of these stashes - and get famous and fabulously rich in the process, of course. For all I know, there are dozens, if not hundreds of people who actively search for these places.
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Luciana
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Post by Luciana »

An urbanist, or someone working in the building department of the municipalities, should know about this supposed flooded garage. It's their business to know. Or a historian.

Actually, chaos, I don't find the idea too far-fetched. But if it hasn't been found then... well. :) I love fiction myself. :)

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Nyarlathotep
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

Chaos wrote: Another, better known legend, from all over Germany, was that the Nazis had hidden lots of their treasures and their secret weapons in caverns and underground bunkers before the war was over, and if you knew where to search, you could find one of these stashes - and get famous and fabulously rich in the process, of course. For all I know, there are dozens, if not hundreds of people who actively search for these places.
I've always heard that particular legend in regards to Lake Toplitz in Austria. I've never heard it in connection with anywhere else, but then again I don't live in Germany.

There is a similar legend from WWII that General Yamashita of the Japanese army stashed a fortune in gold somewhere in the Phillipines. This legend plays heavily into the plot of the novel Cryptonomicon, but it dates back to the fifties at least.

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Cleopatra
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Post by Cleopatra »

That was very interesting Luciana, thank you. I have already copied and pasted that to an e-mail and sent it to some friends.

You know in Greece even mentioning Phoenicians brings a certain level of controversy because Phoenicians are considered by some people the ancestrors of the Hebrews and they appear to have been really smart guys.

Some years ago a very well known professor published an article in a newspaper where he explained what was known in the scientific circles already that the Greek alphabet was based on the Phoenician and some people that belonged to the extreme right sued him for introducing jewish propaganda. :shock:

To be fair though. The achievements of the Phoenicians have been used by some jewish circles too for propaganda reasons and I suspect that the inscription you make falls into that category.

The most rare iten to find in an excavation in Greece is Phoenician glass BTW :)

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Chaos
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Post by Chaos »

Luciana wrote:An urbanist, or someone working in the building department of the municipalities, should know about this supposed flooded garage. It's their business to know. Or a historian.

Actually, chaos, I don't find the idea too far-fetched. But if it hasn't been found then... well. :) I love fiction myself. :)
I´m not that interested in this legend, myself. I just remembered it when I read this thread.

And I just recalled a joke we had in one of the companies I worked for. The company was housed in an old building complex at the Opernplatz (the large square in front of the old opera house - one of the finest places in Frankfurt); one of the buildings had a pretty labyrinthine corridor layout, so we used to joke that it had been constructed by the same guy who planned the interior of the Cheops pyramid :)
The company moved to a glass palace on the bank of the Main river two years ago, and the old place was pulled down...a real pity.


Regarding the original topic... I think it is at least not impossible that Phoenicians reached Brazil. I´ve read that there is a credible report of a Phoenicians captain who sailed all the way to the Gulf of Guinea, to what today is known as Nigeria. On the map, at least, it is not that far across the Atlantic from West Africa (Guinea or Liberia) to Brazil. Of course, I´m not a sailor...
Just yesterday, I saw a documentary about the Vikings; they are known to have gone as far a present-day New York, and the documentary mentioned speculation that they got even further south, to Florida.
"Woo-woo is as woo-woo does, to paraphrase Forrest Gump."
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Guy Noir
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Post by Guy Noir »

Luciana wrote:Don't they, Guy Noir? Because I wonder if the idea of archeological relics in Michigan, even if the artifacts have been debunked, has not remained, to the point that people would be more prone to believing its authenticity if another relics ever comes forth?
Nope. Not much around here in the way of local archeological woo-woo’s. In this case, the hoax has been Mostly forgotten. I only heard about it a few months ago when a local public radio station did a story on it. Also we get a few good finds uncovered every decade or so. A few mastodons have been found in this area.

Our woo-woo’s are a bit more diversified. We have a fair number of people searching for Bigfoot, however.
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Luciana
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Post by Luciana »

Cleopatra wrote:Some years ago a very well known professor published an article in a newspaper where he explained what was known in the scientific circles already that the Greek alphabet was based on the Phoenician and some people that belonged to the extreme right sued him for introducing jewish propaganda. :shock:
But the Greek Alphabet was based on the Phoenician's, right? At least, that is the current consensus in the scientifical community? I did not know there was controversy about it - maybe I just didn't dig enough.

Chaos: it's possible that they have come, even though I read about how their ships would not have been able to withstand the hardships of crossing the Atlantic, so, at the very least, it's very unlikely there was ever a route. That's not to say that an odd ship might not have crossed... but then we're talking about a few dozen people. Could they have left marks which lasted centuries? Well, they could. The problem remains that this evidence has never been found. :) Damn evidence, always killing our fun! :)

Bigfoot... that reminds me of something, I'll open another thread.

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Chaos
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Post by Chaos »

Well, Luciana, let´s speculate. I love speculation. :)
The Phoenicians were traders - at least the ones who came to the Gulf of Guinea were. If they found something in Brazil that was worth the risk and costs of going there, they might have made the journey repeatedly, and maybe established an outpost there. And, by the way, the Vikings in America were never more than a few dozen people, either.
I know that galleys - or whatever similar design the Phoenicians used - are not suited to the open sea; they used to stay within sight of the shore. And if one of them had been blown off-course across that relatively narrow part of the Atlantic...well... - but I admit it´s unlikely. :(
"Woo-woo is as woo-woo does, to paraphrase Forrest Gump."
-Nyarlathotep

"Dreams are merely the cloaks we use when we wish to escape reality for a short time."
-Nigel

I don´t suffer from meglomania. I enjoy it thoroughly.
-Me

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Cleopatra
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Post by Cleopatra »

Luciana wrote: But the Greek Alphabet was based on the Phoenician's, right? At least, that is the current consensus in the scientifical community? I did not know there was controversy about it - maybe I just didn't dig enough.
Yes this is what the majority of the scientists believe. A friend of mine though has sent me copy of a book, the author is jewish actually that argues that it's the jewish alphabet that derives from the Greek.

As soon as I finish Coghill's book about Atlantis this will be the next one.

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Faustina
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Post by Faustina »

Our local woo-woo hoax.

I suppose "hoax" is not quite the correct word, since these people seem to be totally sincere.

Favorite quotes:
archaeologists had investigated all the subsurface area that had been touched by humans over the past three centuries and found no sign of the vault.
And:
Richman said the 1992 dig failed to find the vault because archaeologists picked the wrong spot.
Classic.