FIRST HUMANS TO ARRIVE IN NORTH AMERICA:

THE DENISOVANS 130,000 YEARS AGO



EVIDENCE: CERUTTI MASTODON SITE


the Wanderling


"Researchers digging at the Cerutti Mastodon site, an archaeological site from the early late Pleistocene epoch near San Diego, California, found animal remains and stone tools that show the first humans were living in North America much earlier than previously thought."

CERUTTI MASTODON SITE: Steven R. Holen, et al (linked below):


"Neanderthals, Denisovans, and modern humans are all descended from the ancient human Homo heidelbergensis. Between 300,000 to 400,000 years ago, an ancestral group of H. heidelbergensis left Africa and then split shortly after. One branch ventured northwestward into West Asia and Europe and became the Neanderthals. The other branch moved east, becoming Denisovans. By 130,000 years ago, H. heidelbergensis in Africa had become Homo sapiens—our ancestors—who did not begin their own exodus from Africa until about 60,000 years ago."

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Genographic Project


THE DENISOVANS


As it is so well put in the bottom quote above, the prevailing consensus regarding "peopling of the world" usually circulates around the theory that the predecessors of modern humans originated in Africa. Briefly, after that origin, the early hominids pretty much remained in Africa for a few million years all the while developing into more and more advanced types. Those more advanced types eventually reached a point that they and their like began migrating out of Africa --- or possibly chased out --- into the rest of the world.

At first that migration was done in small steps as one group pushed those ahead of them farther out or went around or over them. Amongst those very early migrations were two of the most successful groups, both groups evolving from early progenitors after having left Africa. One group, the Neanderthals, mainly migrated into present day Europe. Their little known counterparts, the Denisovans, primarily headed north-eastward ending up in Central Asia and a little more northward in Siberia with their most success going southeastward toward the Malay Peninsula and various landforms and islands southward therein.




Following in the footsteps of the Neanderthals and Denisovans a few thousand years later, were modern humans, or homo sapiens, who most likely emerged between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago in Africa and began fanning out into Central Asia around 50,000 years ago arriving in Europe about 40,000 years ago. As their numbers continued to grow, with their advanced weapons and better equipment in their toolkit, except for some minor inbreeding, as time has proven, they pretty much displaced or eliminated all members of the two earlier groups.

Although the above out of Africa migration scenario has it's critics and is constantly held up for review and modification, in a broad sense, overall it continues to stand the test of time --- largely because it is substantiated through fossil records, DNA tracking, etc. However, either critics or being up for review, the above scenario has proven to be accurate and strong enough time-after-time to eliminate down to zero any chance that even one member of the group who were responsible for the dissection of the mastodon as found at the Cerutti site in San Diego, California, was a homo sapien. As is easily determined homo sapiens, that is, modern humans, did not even emerge in Africa until 60,000 to 80,000 years ago, the mastodon dissection site is dated at 130,000 years ago, 60,000 years before homo sapiens barely started, if even, to exist.




Basically everyone outside of Africa has some Neanderthal DNA. Modern Europeans contain on average around 1.2 per cent Neanderthal DNA, a modern Asian about 1.4 per cent, Native Americans 0.2 per cent, with Africans having almost none. The Native American and Indians that inhabit North and South America minor amounts of Neanderthal DNA came about because they are descendants of people who, in migrating out of Africa, passed through Neanderthal inhabited regions, i.e., the Middle East. The migration to the Americas happened long after they acquired that Neanderthal admixture. It should be noted small amounts of Neanderthal DNA does show up in Africa, however, most likely due to back-migration of people from Eurasia, however hominid ancestors of humans such as australopithecines and Neanderthals have never been found in the New World.

Modern humans, except for one group, show very little Denisovan DNA. That exception, as shown on the graphic above, is found in a large swath of the globe sweeping down from central-eastern China into the southern hemisphere in an area given the name Oceania. Native Australians, New Guineans and Filipinos, and to a lesser extent Polynesians and west Indonesian islanders, carry up to 8 per cent of the genome --- although it should be pointed out, again as shown on the graphic, that some nearby East Indonesian populations have practically no Denisovan DNA, either because of not being there during the Denisovan migration or being beyond the far western edge of it. The line dips below the Hawaiian Islands leaving it excluded for much the same reason. The argument of the day, at least by some, is that Denisovan DNA was not just carried to Oceania by modern humans, but instead, they themselves were actually living there when modern humans showed up.

Notice on the graphic the area circled in red indicating high Denisovan frequency, sweeps across the southern Pacific into South America with two areas of heavy concentration marked. As it just so happens some, but not all Native American populations, contain a strong presence of Australo-Melanesian ancestry, especially among enough South American populations to be noticeable. On the same graphic, albeit outside the high frequency area, there are only two places in all of North and Central America that have sufficiently high levels of Denisovan to be marked. One is the Mayan on the Yucatan peninsula, the other along the northern Sonoran coast of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, an area that just happens to be less than 500 miles south of San Diego. Not shown on the map and almost as close are the Pericúes of Baja California, an extinct ethnographic group that lived on the tip of Baja and considered distinct from other North American indigenous groups.(see)


The following, as found in The Curandero and the Magic of the Mojave Desert Creosote Ring, is highly related to the San Diego located Cerutti Mastodon Site and the Denisovans as being the first humans in North America:


"The curandero, with forbearers springing from the pre-history of Mesoamerica constructing and building temples for a series of unknown Olmec, Mayan and Aztec kings, had as well, a centuries old unwavering blood-line on both the Spanish and Native American side, leading straight back into the past to ancestors who worked directly for the Franciscan Father, Junipero Serra, during the period Serra was establishing and building the Alta California mission system. Most of his ancestor's efforts circulated around the first of the missions, Mission Basilica San Diego Alcala, and in doing so, as peons, they were not much more than lower level worker bees, doing a lot of the early grunt work digging, cutting, gathering, transporting, moving, and making materials needed in the actual construction and building of the mission.

"In the process of that grunt work one of his ancestors, a low ranking member of a work team, was sent out with a group to scout for useful materials and such needed for completion of the mission. In an attempt to cross or find a way around a low-lying marsh or swamp-like area formed around the outlet of the present-day named Sweetwater River where it empties into the San Diego Bay, the work crew came across a remarkable discovery."




"As the scenario played out, the crew stumbled upon human skeletal remains composed of at least two people, including two skulls, one close to being fully intact, the other with enough pieces it could be reassembled into one. The military officer in charge was seemingly astute enough to recognize the skulls as being quite ancient and inherently different enough from the typical human skulls, and especially so Indian skulls he was familiar with, to bring the difference to the attention of mission authorities and did so by presenting said authorities with the intact skull. Rather than being commended, the leader of the crew, apparently a learned man of letters, after a heated argument with mission hierarchy, was said to have been put to death and the rest of the men beaten, being told what they saw and spoke of was blaspheme or worse.

"In due time the skull found by the officer was sent overland to Mexico City, but, according to how the curandero told the story, somewhere in the middle of the vast wasteland that stretches eastward out across the desert between the Yuma crossing at the Colorado River but before reaching the Mission San José de Tumacácori located several miles north of Nogales, those responsible for the skull's safe keeping was attacked by a group of unidentified marauders. Investigators or trackers sent by the church in the aftermath of the attack were unable to find any traces or signs of the raiders or the skull, the skull and all associated trappings having vanished into the sands of the Arizona desert."


That is, until 178 years later when the following happened as found at the source so cited:


"In a remote section of the desert southwest, bordering along the upper reaches of the northern mountains, an artifact of deep concern and value to certain segments of the long established indigenous population had been stumbled upon by a ragtag group of grave-robbers and, in turn, stolen from a heretofore unknown to outsiders sacred site. The artifact, although nondescript under almost any layperson's observation, was said to be a potential mind-changer in Native American lore if it surfaced among the general public."(source)


As it relates to the much later discoveries at the Cerutti Mastodon site listed further down, the following is found on the Curandero page:


"Although the two near fully intact human skulls were thought not to be of Native American extraction by those who saw them, they were human nonetheless and considered by all who came in contact with them to be of normal adult size. What threw everybody into a tizzy was what else was found in close association with the skulls. A giant bone. The bone, of which was taken to the mission and of which many saw, disappeared without a trace and without mention except as passed down by the curandero's forebearers. The military officer reported the bone looked all the same as a femur of a horse only of a giant size, heavy and with a huge diameter. The bone was said to measure longer than the distance from the tip of the officer's finger of his outstretched arm to the tip of his nose. No one had ever seen a bone of such size and how it was connected to the skulls was a mystery. Other bones of such size were either not found or left unreported."


The Cerutti Mastodon site was discovered by San Diego Natural History Museum researchers in November 1992 during routine paleontological work. The site eventually proved to preserve the 131,000-year-old bones, tusks and molars of a mastodon that show evidence of modification by early humans. It just so happens that the mastodon site is located in the same area as the low-lying marsh or swamp-like area that formed around the outlet of the present-day Sweetwater River where it empties into the San Diego Bay, the exact same place the curandero's ancestors found the two human skulls.

If you set aside the two skulls for a moment, humans in the new world interacting or knowing about the existence of mastodons or elephant-like creatures have long been recorded over-and-over by the hand of North, Central, and South America early inhabitants. Such an example is a Bluff, Utah petroglyph located at the Upper Sand Island rock art site along the San Juan River that depicts a Columbian mammoth from the Middle to Late Pleistocene as cited by me and others in reference to Alex Apostolides. So too are much closer to modern era depictions, with one find in Copan, Honduras dated at the site by the Mayan calendar into the specific date of August 22, 731 AD. Many of those descriptions and images I've seen myself.(see)


EVIDENCE: CERUTTI MASTODON SITE



THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF


BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS


MAYAN RUINS AND THE SPRING EQUINOX


VIKINGS OF THE DESERT SOUTHWEST


MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB


THE INCIDENT AT SUPAI
A SHAMANIC JOURNEY OUTSIDE THE TRADITION

YAMIL LU'UM



THE BEST OF
CARLOS CASTANEDA

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WE DO NOT HAVE SHAMANS
The Case Against "Shamans" In the
North American Indigenous Cultures


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THE FOLLOWING BY:
STEVEN R. HOLEN, ET AL

A concentration of fossil bone and rock at the Cerutti Mastodon site: the unusual positions of the femur heads, one up and one down, broken in the same manner next to each other are unusual; mastodon molars are located in the lower right hand corner next to a large rock comprised of andesite which is in contact with a broken vertebra; upper left is a rib angled upwards resting on a granitic pegmatite rock fragment. Image credit: San Diego Natural History Museum. A concentration of fossil bone and rock at the Cerutti Mastodon site: the unusual positions of the femur heads, one up and one down, broken in the same manner next to each other are unusual; mastodon molars are located in the lower right hand corner next to a large rock comprised of andesite which is in contact with a broken vertebra; upper left is a rib angled upwards resting on a granitic pegmatite rock fragment. Image credit: San Diego Natural History Museum.


The Cerutti Mastodon site was discovered by San Diego Natural History Museum researchers in November 1992 during routine paleontological mitigation work.

This site preserves 131,000-year-old hammerstones, stone anvils, and fragmentary remains — bones, tusks and molars — of a mastodon (Mammut americanum) that show evidence of modification by early humans.

An analysis of these finds ‘substantially revises the timing of arrival of Homo into the Americas,’ according to a paper published this week in the journal Nature.

“This discovery is rewriting our understanding of when humans reached the New World,” said Dr. Judy Gradwohl, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Until recently, the oldest records of human activity in North America generally accepted by archaeologists were about 15,000 years old.

But the fossils from the Cerutti Mastodon site — named in recognition of San Diego Natural History Museum paleontologist Richard Cerutti, who discovered the site and led the excavation — were found embedded in fine-grained sediments that had been deposited much earlier, during a period long before humans were thought to have arrived on the continent.

“When we first discovered the site, there was strong physical evidence that placed humans alongside extinct Ice Age megafauna,” said lead co-author Dr. Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

“Since the original discovery, dating technology has advanced to enable us to confirm with further certainty that early humans were here much earlier than commonly accepted.”

Since its initial discovery, the Cerutti Mastodon site has been the subject of research by top scientists to date the fossils accurately and evaluate microscopic damage on bones and rocks that authors now consider indicative of human activity.

In 2014, U.S. Geological Survey geologist Dr. James Paces used state-of-the-art radiometric dating methods to determine that the mastodon bones were 130,700 years old, with a conservative error of plus or minus 9,400 years.

“The distributions of natural uranium and its decay products both within and among these bone specimens show remarkably reliable behavior, allowing us to derive an age that is well within the wheelhouse of the dating system,” Dr. Paces said.

The finding poses a lot more questions than answers.

“Who were the hominins at work at this site? We don’t know. No hominin fossil remains were found. Our own species, Homo sapiens, has been around for about 200,000 years and arrived in China sometime before 100,000 years ago,” the researchers said.

“Modern humans shared the planet with other hominin species that are now extinct (such as Neanderthals) until about 40,000 years ago. If a human-like species was living in North America 130,000 years ago, it could be that modern humans didn’t get here first.”

“How did these early hominins get here? We don’t know. Hominins could have crossed the Bering Land Bridge linking modern-day Siberia with Alaska prior to 130,000 years ago before it was submerged by rising sea levels,” they said.

“For some time prior to 130,000 years ago, the Earth was in a glacial period during which water was locked up on land in great ice sheets. As a consequence, sea levels dropped dramatically, exposing land that lies underwater today.”

“If hominins had not already crossed the land bridge prior to 130,000 years, they may have used some form of watercraft to cross the newly formed Bering Strait as glacial ice receded and sea levels rose.”

“We now know that hominins had invented some type of watercraft before 100,000 years ago in Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean Sea area. Hominins using watercraft could have followed the coast of Asia north and crossed the short distance to Alaska and then followed the west coast of North America south to present-day California.”

“Although we are not certain if the earliest hominins arrived in North America on foot or by watercraft, recognition of the antiquity of the Cerutti Mastodon site will stimulate research in much older deposits that may someday reveal clues to help solve this mystery.”



(for larger size click image then click again)

Stone tools from the Cerutti Mastodon site: (a-d) anvil; (a) upper surface; boxes indicate images magnified in b-d; dashed rectangle, magnified in b, small dashed square, magnified in c and solid square, magnified in d; (b) cortex removal and impact marks (arrows); (c) striations (arrows) on the highest upper cortical surface ridge; (d) striations (diagonal arrows) and impact marks with step terminations characteristic of hammer blows (vertical arrows). (e–i) hammerstone; (e) impact marks; the box indicates the magnified images in g and h; (f) upper smoothed surface; (g) deep cracks and impact scars (arrows); (h) impact scars from g, showing results of three discrete hammerstone blows on an anvil (arrows); the large flake scar (central arrow) has a clear point of impact with radiating fissures; the small scar (right arrow) has a negative impact cone and associated scars and fissures preserved beneath a layer of caliche; (i) striations (arrows) and abrasive polish on upper cortical surface (near black North arrow in f). Scale bars - 5 cm (a), 2 cm (b, g, h), 1 mm (c, i), 2 mm (d), 10 cm (e, f). Image credit: Holen et al, doi: 10.1038/nature22065. Stone tools from the Cerutti Mastodon site: (a-d) anvil; (a) upper surface; boxes indicate images magnified in b-d; dashed rectangle, magnified in b, small dashed square, magnified in c and solid square, magnified in d; (b) cortex removal and impact marks (arrows); (c) striations (arrows) on the highest upper cortical surface ridge; (d) striations (diagonal arrows) and impact marks with step terminations characteristic of hammer blows (vertical arrows). (e–i) hammerstone; (e) impact marks; the box indicates the magnified images in g and h; (f) upper smoothed surface; (g) deep cracks and impact scars (arrows); (h) impact scars from g, showing results of three discrete hammerstone blows on an anvil (arrows); the large flake scar (central arrow) has a clear point of impact with radiating fissures; the small scar (right arrow) has a negative impact cone and associated scars and fissures preserved beneath a layer of caliche; (i) striations (arrows) and abrasive polish on upper cortical surface (near black North arrow in f). Scale bars – 5 cm (a), 2 cm (b, g, h), 1 mm (c, i), 2 mm (d), 10 cm (e, f). Image credit: Holen et al, doi: 10.1038/nature22065.


The authors also conducted experiments with the bones of large modern mammals, including elephants, to determine what it takes to break the bones with large hammerstones and to analyze the distinctive breakage patterns that result.

“It’s this sort of work that has established how fractures like this can be made,” said co-author Daniel Fisher, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, and director of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology.

“And based on decades of experience seeing sites with evidence of human activity, and also a great deal of work on modern material trying to replicate the patterns of fractures that we see, I really know of no other way that the material of the Cerutti Mastodon site could have been produced than through human activity.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind this is an archaeological site,” added lead co-author Dr. Steve Holen, director of research at the Center for American Paleolithic Research.

“The bones and several teeth show clear signs of having been deliberately broken by humans with manual dexterity and experiential knowledge. This breakage pattern has also been observed at mammoth fossil sites in Kansas and Nebraska, where alternative explanations such as geological forces or gnawing by carnivores have been ruled out.”

The scientists also created 3D digital models of bone and stone specimens from the Cerutti Mastodon site.

“The models were immensely helpful in interpreting and illustrating these objects,” said co-author Dr. Adam Rountrey, collection manager at the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology.

“We were able to put together virtual refits that allow exploration of how the multiple fragments from one hammerstone fit back together.”

“The 3D models helped us understand what we were looking at and to communicate the information much more effectively.”

(source)

STEVEN R. HOLEN, ET AL. 2017. A 130,000-year-old archaeological site in southern California, USA. Nature 544: 479-483; doi: 10.1038/nature22065


AND NOW THIS:

THE ANZA-BORREGO MAMMOTH SITE

It should be noted that in December 1986 George J. Miller, a professor of geology from Imperial Valley College in El Centro, California, on a dig in Anza Borrego Desert State Park with a number of paleontology students came across a nearly complete skeleton of an adult mammoth. Through a variety of testing means they dated the site as 500,000 YBP (years before present). What is interesting about the Anza-Borrego site and relevant to the subject matter previously presented above in the main text is the following from the source so cited, making reference to comments by Professor Miller:


"During the recovery of this Mammoth, he observed five 'V' shaped cut-marks on the inside surface of one of the ribs. The marks were not consistent with either weathering or natural scarring of the bone or accidental damage done by paleontologists during the site excavation. Miller and his team were unable to identify any carnivore that could have cut those sharp 'V's, leaving human modification as a distinct possible cause.

"The team postulated that the marks were made by early human hunters, possibly Homo erectus, using the ribs as 'chopping blocks,' with a primitive stone chopper or hand axe. This would place humans or their immediate ancestors at this site in North America nearly 500,000 years ago."(source)


In a 1999 report on file at Colorado Desert District Stout Research Center by George E. McDaniel and George T. Jefferson regarding the Miller mammoth find in the Anza-Borrego state that (unlike the Cerutti site) the marks on bones, previously reported as possibly made by stone tools, are a result damaged by carnivores and other animal scavengers. Their studies indicate the grooves are rounded "U" shaped marks and are consistent with carnivore canine bite-and-glide tooth marks. It should be noted as well no tools, stone or otherwise, were found in association with the site.
















MASTODONS, ELEPHANTS AND EARLY-AMERICAN INTERACTIONS

The Asian countries where the early religions of Hinduism and Buddhism originally sprang are inexorably intertwined with the existence of elephants and their images. Any search for related religious artifacts in Mexico or anyplace else would turn up, however rare or remote, one would think, images or artifacts of elephants as well. And so it was for me with my travels.

A couple of years out of high school a buddy and I, tired of our jobs and the directions our lives were going at the time, decided to spend a few months one summer on an extended road trip travelling throughout Mexico. We shopped around and bought a used six-cylinder 1951 Chevy panel truck just for the trip and over a period of a few months the two of us outfitted it like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. We got a bunch of new fan-belts, radiator hoses, inner tubes and tools, then, early one Saturday morning we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border with no idea how long we were going to be gone or where we would end up.

It was the summer of 1960 and in those years the two of us figured it was as safe for us to travel in Mexico as it would be if we had chosen to go to Yosemite or Yellowstone. Safe or not, the two of us making it as deep into Mexico as the Yucatan or anyplace else in Mexico was not part of any specific plan, because, except for one small caveat on my part, we had no plans. Mostly we simply made the decision to keep driving as far and as long as we could in an effort to see every ancient Aztec and Mayan archaeological site we could before we ran out of time and money. With that decision in hand we figured if we got as far as Chichen Itza it would be as good a goal as any before turning around. Weeks later, after reaching Mexico City and visiting the Aztec pyramids we drove southeast to the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the Mayan site of Palenque, then on to Campeche and the Mayan sites of Labna, Sayil, Uxmal and a few other places. After those sites we crossed over the then unknown outer rim of the 65 million year old Chicxulub impact crater, the impactor of which is said to have been responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs, to Mayapan, the last of the ancient Mayan capitals with for me, some rather startling results. See:


THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB


In the previous paragraph I make mention of one slight caveat regarding my travels in Mexico. That slight caveat circulated around a specific interest by me, but not necessarily so any special level of importance to my buddy. That interest was to see, locate, and/or find an ancient Buddhist related statue-like carved figure said to have been erected before 500 AD in Tehuantepec in the far southern reaches of Mexico.

My interest in the statue came about because sometime around the start of my junior year of high school I began study-practice in Zen under the guidance of the person I call my Mentor. In the process of that study I developed an interest in and became familiar with the history and background of the Buddha. At the high school I attended the graduating class had what they called 'Senior Ditch Day,' wherein a regular school day was officially set aside to ditch and go somewhere as a class en mass. My senior year the class selected Catalina Island as our destination. During that high school excursion I participated in all the usual tourist stuff with my girlfriend and buddies: go on the inland motor tour, ride the glass bottom boat, hang out at the beach. I also went to the Catalina Island History Museum housed in those days on the ground floor of a harbor front building called the Casino. There I saw what was to me, thanks to my growing Buddhist knowledge, a truly remarkable artifact --- an artifact that was on exhibit as though it was nothing special, but for me at the time, really blew my mind. Sitting in a glass case amongst a myriad of other Native American artifacts was two halves of an open abalone or clam shell that had at one time been closed and sealed with natural occurring asphaltum. The sealed shell had been found, as I was to learn much later, in 1922 in an ancient Indian burial site located on the island at a place called Empire Landing. When the abalone shell was opened, inside, and the same thing I saw and was set aback when I did, was a small ceramic fired Buddha-like image, looking all the same as high quality white porcelain. And it was. Again, as I was to find out later, the Buddha-like image was way beyond any of the knowledge or ability to do so or make by Native American cultures prior to the burial. Professor T. Y. H. Ma (1899-1979), late of the National Taiwan University, Formosa, and his colleagues reported that the ceramic image was certainly of Chinese origin and that the workmanship showed it to be from the Tang dynasty circa 618–907 AD. My mentor, who was quite familiar with the object, having lived on the Channel Islands off the coast of California for seven years prior to me meeting him, brought up the artifact in conversation one day several years after my graduation when I told him a buddy and I were planning an extended trip through Mexico. He told me, referring to the ceramic Buddha I had seen at Catalina, there were Buddha-like references all over ancient Mexico and to keep my eye open for them. He emphasized, for me, the most important one had traditionally been found in the mountains several miles north of the southern city of Tehuantepec and if I got that far south not to miss an attempt to locate it.



(please click image)


Months after having returned from my trip to Mexico my mentor gave me a brand new book that was only just published titled They All Discovered America (1961) by Charles Michael Boland. In doing so he had carefully bookmarked Chapter 4, Hoei Shin, for my own edification. And that's how it was all tied together --- from the abalone shell in Catalina to the carved figure in the mountains above Tehuantepec to the book with the chapter on Hoei Shin --- Boland's Hoei Shin being, of course, the same Hui Shan I write about (in the link below) AND the same personage whose memory still stands a high on a rock in a village north of Tehuantepec that bares the name Wi-shi-pecocha, a transliteration of Hui Shen, Bhikshu.


The trip my buddy and I went on, from start to finish took all but a few days short of the whole of the summer of 1960, with the two of us ending up having seen the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, and a whole bunch of other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Eventually we made a decision to return home. We headed north along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through Vera Cruz then westward inland toward central Mexico turning north along the spine of the Sierra Madres.

Somehow on the way north my buddy and I became separated in our travels after I was thrown from a horse I was riding while visiting a ranch outside the northern Mexico town of Magdalena. Not being able to catch up with my buddy for some reason, tending to my injuries and such, seeking a way home, I crossed alone and on foot, albeit still limping from the fall, into the U.S. at the Nogales gate, ending up at the bus station on the American side. There I bought a ticket to Los Angeles, and it was there, during the end of the summer of 1960, sitting in the Nogales bus station waiting for my bus to come, as destiny would have it, in that same waiting room at the very same time I was there, Carlos Castaneda met for the very first time, the Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer that he would soon apprentice under and the shaman-sorcerer, Don Juan Matus.


CARLOS CASTANEDA AND DON JUAN MATUS
THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING

In November 1960, a month or so after my buddy and I had passed through Vera Cruz the Museo de Antropología de Xalapa (Xalapa Museum of Anthropology) opened. When we were in Chichen Itza we met a university graduate student taking latex molds off temple hieroglyphs, so in turn he could use the molds to make exact duplicate casts from a Plaster of Paris type material called Hydrocal. He had arrived at Chichen Itza on an official dig with a number of people, professors and such, and when they left he stayed on continuing to make molds. When he heard we were heading north, since he had a bunch of equipment and molds and since we had a truck, he asked if he could hitch a ride to Vera Cruz.

When we arrived in Vera Cruz the museum people were in the process of finishing the final touches of a new building to accommodate some 10,000 pieces of ancient local and regional artifacts that had field collected over the years. Just like wanting see the world's largest ball of yarn or the world's largest donut, I had to see it. Although the graduate student really didn't need any help with his molds and equipment, in the process of delivering them we faked it enough so my buddy and I could join him allowing us access to the yet to be opened museum. There were boxes and stuff spread out all over in the main building, outbuildings, and other places as people were sorting, counting, and setting up exhibits. Once within the perimeter my buddy and I were able to wander through looking at the artifacts unquestioned and unmolested.

In doing so, just like seeing the Buddha-like porcelain figurine in the abalone shell in the Catalina Island museum and was set-aback, I saw quite clearly an equally highly unusual artifact that has, since the rise of the internet, become quite controversial. At the time I was amazed by it, but really put it out of my mind as events of much greater significance during our travels overshadowed any other interest. Then one day on the internet I ran across an image of the same artifact and became aware of the controversy surrounding it. I make no comments regarding any of the controversy, but do present the image of what I saw in real life those so many years ago in Mexico, an Olmec figurine circa 1200-900 BCE looking all the same as an elephant:



© Z. Sitchin 2000 Reproduced by Permission
(please click image)

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MAYAN ELEPHANT-LIKE IMAGE DEPICTED ON STELA-B, COPAN HONDURAS 731 AD
(please click image)