Hyperdiffusion with Atlantis at its centre was argued at great length by Ignatius Donnelly when he proposed Atlantis as the mother culture, located in the Atlantic. Through colonisation and migration their civilisation was brought to the Americas and the Mediterranean, particularly Egypt. The idea received widespread support at the time and has persisted until today(a). A similar proposal was made by James Churchward in connection with his Pacific island of Mu.
However, even earlier, in the seventeenth century, Olof Rudbeck “purported to prove that Sweden was Atlantis, the cradle of civilization, and Swedish the original language of Adam from which Latin and Hebrew had evolved.”(i)
Since Atlantis in the Atlantic is considered by many to be highly improbable and Mu only existed in Churchward’s imagination, a more likely explanation is that diverse ideas emerged independently in different locations, possibly around the same time. These developments then diffused through trade and migration in various directions, sometimes returning in an improved format. The result is that today we are finding that most ancient civilisations show evidence of cultural influences from more than one source.
Richard Cassaro and Jim Allen have both published online large collections of images(b)(c)(d) that clearly demonstrate widespread diffusion. This is particularly so in the case of South America where influences from both east and west are clearly evident. While it is regularly claimed that Egypt influenced South American civilisations it is obvious that Asian inspiration was equally, if not solely, at work. The existence of pyramids in both Egypt and Mesoamerica is put forward as evidence of contact between them. However, the problem is that the American pyramids were constructed hundreds if not thousands of years later than the Egyptian ones. However, in spite of this separation by time and distance, the Egyptians and the Aztecs also shared feathered-serpent deities(g)! What appears to be overlooked is the fact that the Chinese pyramids are more like Mesoamerican examples and are dated to the second half of the first millennium BC, again closer to the development of pyramids in Mesoamerica.
An even more unusual hyperdiffusionist opinion was expressed by the Argentine paleontologist, Florintino Ameghino (1854-1911), who thought that mankind originated in South America(h).
A 1986 paper(f) by Ben Urish entitled Cultural Diffusion should be read in this connection..
(g) See: Archive 2827
Henriette Mertz (1898-1985) During World War II she worked as a code-breaker in the U.S. government’s cryptography department, while later she became an American patent lawyer in Chicago. Her interest in archaeology led her to be the first to propose that Odysseus, after wandering about the Atlantic, was the earliest European to set foot in America: an idea now taken up by others including Enrico Mattievich.
Mertz recognised that ancient America was host to guests if not residents from both east and west and has written in Pale Ink on the evidence for the existence of persistent pre-Columbian Chinese contacts.*This book was later re-published as a paperback and retitled as Gods from the Far East.*
Her book The Mystic Symbol argues that some early Christians fled to America to escape persecution in the Roman Empire. Wayne N. May, the Mormon publisher of Ancient American, has also published a paper on the Mystic Symbol(b).
*In a paper reprinted in the Ancient America website, Mertz decried the fact that thousands of inscribed artifacts recovered from mounds in the State of Michigan, between 1890 and 1920, were destroyed, in particular the controversial Newberry Tablet(c).*
Her reputation as a serial heretic also forced her to privately publish a volume on Atlantis following rejection by twenty publishers. She gave a lecture on her views in London in 1964 and enjoyed extensive coverage in the Greek press including the serialisation of her book.
Her contention is that Atlantis was located in the southeast of the United States. She begins with the legend of the Seven Cities of Antillia and its depiction on the 1436 map of Andrea Bianco. A comparison of this map with a modern map of Florida convinced her that they referred to the same region. She discusses many aspects of Plato’s story and their compatibility with the archaeology, geography and legends of her chosen location. She also offers a map of Atlantis that encompasses the land bound by the Mississippi, Ohio and Potomac rivers as well as the Atlantic giving us the ‘island’ of Atlantis. To support this possibility she ingeniously suggests that Plato used the word ‘sea’ in the sense of being navigable and so was also applicable to rivers.
Mertz’s book, Wine Dark Sea, which claims that Homer’s Odyssey describes a very ancient trip to America, inspired the Austrian ethnologist, Christine Pellech, to expand on her work with a number of books on diffusionism together with a website on the subject. Unfortunately, Pellech’s books are only available in German but she has also established an English language magazine and website(a).