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    Re: Longitude by altitudes. was Re: How Many Chronometers?
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2009 May 13, 13:13 +1000
    People from the now Indonesian islands to the north of what is now the Australian Northern Territory visited the Australian northern coast on a semi-regular basis over several hundred years before European settlement, which began far away to the southeast, in Port Jackson.
     
    This is not some fanciful theory I just invented, it is established fact, supported by heaps of evidence (literally true..).  The visitors were typically seeking beche de mer (sea slugs), and would camp on the coast for up to several months at a time, mixing with the locals, leading to the perhaps inevitable intimate relationships.
     
    Following European settlement the indigenous peoples of this continent died out like flies in a cold snap, with little resistance to everything from Smallpox to the common cold, which proved almost as lethal.  Much later it was speculated that infectious diseases in general and Smallpox in particular was introduced to indigenous Australians by these Moluccans (one of the Indonesian islands).  Quite recently researchers focusing on this question have showed conclusively that this contention is incorrect.  There is no evidence to show this happened, and good evidence as to how infectious diseases were introduced and spread, following the European installation.
     
    Now let's say we didn't have such good evidence that these Moluccans came and went over a significantly long period, and had intimate contact with the locals.  Let's say its just a whacky theory of mine.  According to Frank's reasoning, lack of infection is an indication of lack of contact.
     
    In other words, absence of proof is proof of absence.  Hmm..

     
    On Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:43 AM, Peter Fogg <piterr11@gmail.com> wrote:


    Frank wrote:

    From my point of view, the biggest problem with any of these supposed pre-Columbian sea voyages to the New World, whether from Europe or the Near East or China, is the total lack of immunity to Eur-asian diseases among Native Americans which became tragically obvious shortly after the first Spanish voyages to the Americas. So unless those voyages took place many centuries earlier, when the complex of deadly diseases would have been significantly different (e.g. no "black death" in Europe before about 1347), or unless the voyagers who took those early pre-Columbian voyages were astoundingly disease-free (which is possible with small isolated groups, like the Norse in Newfoundland), plague, smallpox and the rest should have been common in the Americas well before 1500.
     
    Hang on a moment!  By their own accounts, the contact was typically brief, ephemeral, and hardly conducive to the transmission of diseases (helps to get up-close and personal for this).  Assuming that the voyagers were sick to begin with.  Nothing like a long sea voyage as a useful spell of quarantine.  Specifically I cite the accounts of early Scandinavian settlers in the north-east of North America, and early Spanish forays into southern parts of North America, etc.  They typically had little enough to do with the locals, apart from fighting with them when unavoidable.  As to the others - who knows!


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