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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/17

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WAS MIDDLE AMERICA PEOPLED FROM ASIA?

388, 399, 629, and so on, and the question is asked, Why may they not have reached Mexico on the east? Migration on parallels of latitude with no intervening ocean is one matter; to go from latitude 30° on one side of the Pacific almost to the Arctic Ocean, and down on the other side nearly to the equator, is quite another exploit. It is assumed that five priests had gone to Mexico in 468 a. d., and there ingrafted Buddhistic cult on the races with whom they came in contact. It is simply beyond reason to believe that the introduction of Buddhism into Mexico antedated by half a century its introduction into Japan. Communication between Korea and Japan has been from the earliest times one without effort or peril: in the one case a trip of a day or more, in the other case a journey of unnumbered thousands of miles through perilous seas, across stormy fiords and raging waters, including arctic and tropical climates and contact with multitudinous savage hordes. Those who hold that Mexico and Central America were powerfully affected by Asiatic contact must be called upon to explain the absence of certain Asiatic arts and customs which would have been introduced by any contact of sufficient magnitude to leave its impress so strongly in other directions. A savage people takes but little from a civilized people save its diseases, gunpowder, and rum. The contact of barbarous with civilized people results in an interchange of many useful objects and ideas, but these introductions must be through repeated invasions and by considerable numbers. Peschel, while believing in the Asiatic origin of the American race, would place the time far back in the savage state. He repudiates the Fusang idea, and expresses his belief that "a high state of civilization can not be transmitted by a few individuals, and that the progress in culture takes place in dense populations and by means of a division of labor which fits each individual into a highly complex but most effective organization," and then insists that "the phenomena of American civilization originated independently and spontaneously"; and Keane shows how interesting the social, religious, and political institutions of America become when "once severed from the fictitious Asiatic connection and influences." That the savage derives little or derives slowly from contact with a superior race is seen in the fact that he still remains savage. Thus the Ainu, a low, savage people, though they have been in contact with the Japanese for nearly two thousand years, have never acquired the more powerful Mongolian arrow release, while the Persians, though Aryan, yet early acquired this release from their Mongolian neighbors. The Scandinavians, who in prehistoric times practiced the primary release, yet later acquired the more efficient Mediterranean method. Let us for a moment consider what would have occurred as a result of an Asiatic contact with