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A kayak in Zierikzee
George Blaustein
01 June 2021
published in Issue One

On American discoveries of Europe.


Was a Dutch town founded by Inuits in the 9th century? For a long time, the local legend of Zierikzee, in Zeeland, was that Zierik, the founder, emerged from the sea in 849 CE. In 1696, one history – Mattheus Smallegange’s Nieuwe Cronijk van Zeeland – described the Zierikzee legend at length, in order to discredit it. It didn’t work: in the 18th century, a Greenland kayak hung in the Zierikzee town hall. Alas it was not the primordial kayak; it was probably acquired by the crew of a Dutch whale ship. It’s now in the local history museum.

Other such sea-emergences pepper Dutch history if you know where to look for them.

Other such sea-emergences pepper Dutch history if you know where to look for them. English history, too: in Suffolk, in 1187, « a fish in all parts like a man, was taken and kept 6 months in the Castle there, whence he escaped again to the sea, » according to 17th-century history. In Holland in 1430, « after a violent tempest, … some girls of the town of Edam … going in a boat to milk their cows, observed a mermaid in shallow water » – this according to a 19th-century compendium of medieval curiosities. « They took it into their boat and brought it into Edam, dressed it in female attire, and taught it to spin. » Another source dates that tale to 1493, with the « sea-woman » living in Holland for « many years (some say fifteen) » and dying a Christian: « for the reverence which she bare unto the signe of the crosse whereupon she had been accustomed, she was buried in the churchyarde. »

Incredulity and credulity can be virtues or vices. Credulity can also be a strategy. The late historian Jack D. Forbes (Powhatan-Renape, Delaware-Lenape) saw in the Zierikzee kayak a real folk tradition, behind which lay a history of Atlantic crossings, from west to east, centuries before Columbus. In The American Discovery of Europe (2007), Forbes would go further, calmly suggesting « that the widespread reports of the existence of ‘mer-men’ and ‘mer-women’ in northwestern Europe be considered as possible evidence of early Inuit or other American arrivals. » It’s an appealing thought.

The book’s main argument (leave aside the folklore of mermen and mermaids for now) is that long before Europeans traveled to the Americas, Americans traveled to Europe, and they left a trace. Much of the book is devoted to ocean currents, to indigenous people’s knowledge of their environments and waterways, and to the capacities of their sea-faring vessels. If anyone was going to cross the Atlantic, intentionally or not, going from west to east was far more likely than going east to west. « Americans of old, » following the movements of the leatherback sea turtle, for instance, along the north Atlantic gulf stream, would reach Scandinavia, the British Isles, and beyond.

Forbes suggested that such travels – isolated, storm-borne, accidental – have gone on for millennia. The chapter on « Ancient Travelers and Migrations » makes the conservative estimate that

at least once every century a major storm carried Americans out into the Atlantic from, say, 9000 BP [before present] onward. That would equate to ninety involuntary voyages before 100BP. At one voyage per each half-century, we would be looking at 180 such trips.

That such trips left no archive does not mean they didn’t happen: « there is no reason to suppose that the voyages began simply because literate Europeans were available to record them. »

Christopher Columbus was among the literate Europeans who did record such a voyage, without entirely knowing he was doing so. In 1477, he sailed to Galway, Ireland, and saw people he thought were from Cathay, an old European name for China. In the margins of Enea Silvio Piccolomini’s Historia rerum ubique gestarum (a history and geography written by the man who would become Pope Pius II), Columbus wrote:

[Homi]nes de catayo versus oriens venierunt. Nos vidimus multa notabilia et specialiter in galuei ibernie virum et [ux]orem in daubs lignis asepsis ex mirabili [pers]ona

[People from Catayo towards the east they came. We saw many notable things and especially in Galway, Ireland, of a man and wife of marvelous form, with two dugout logs in their possession.]

Forbes opens with a lengthy consideration of this Latin inscription, which has preoccupied scholars before. He takes it as a very safe bet that Columbus’s « people from Catayo » were, in fact, American travelers. The broader point – tragic, in its way – is that such travels made Columbus certain that crossing the ocean was possible at all.


I moved to Amsterdam from the U.S. and have been teaching American history to European college students for a decade. In 2013 I decided to call my introductory course « American History, Beginning to End. » The title is a joke. To speak of an ending is, after all, to flirt with an American taboo: U.S. history textbooks have names like Unfinished Nation and Enduring Vision, and I needed a break from the obligatory optimism. To invoke a beginning, meanwhile, is artificial. My own course is not a « pre-contact » history of Indigenous peoples; it starts, as most U.S. history courses do, with the violence of European invasion and colonization. But such a course can begin with a deconstruction of beginnings, too.

The American Discovery of Europe has not become a standard text. Academic reviewers tended to shrink from its bolder claims, to point out holes here and there, to note its speculative character. Of course, it is speculative by necessity and by design. To test those speculations is not my purpose here, nor, frankly, would I be able to. But we can chart their implications for history and how we narrate it, and we can loosen some familiar foundations.

Atles català (1375), detail: eastern-most panel, with mermaid

Born in California in 1934, Forbes was a prolific writer, activist, and institution builder. In 1969 he was among the founders of the Native American Studies program at the University of California Davis. He wrote a political and spiritual treatise in 1979 – A World Ruled by Cannibals, later republished as Columbus and Other Cannibals – about « the Wétiko Disease of Aggression, Violence, and Imperialism. » He took wétiko from the Cree language’s word for cannibal and applied it to European colonization and genocide, and to the brutalities of « civilization » more broadly. Forbes’s academic writing, though, was not particularly polemical; it was part of a grander project of writing Indigenous people into world history. Such work drew on a massive, multilingual archive, and required a command over, and suspicion toward, European categories of racial identification.

Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples (1993), remains his most influential academic book, charting the enormous and neglected terrain of « Afro-Native cultural exchange and contact. » Forbes’s account of the global slave trade and the workings of empire makes it possible to glimpse the unrecorded experiences of people captured in the Americas, transported to west Africa and thence across the continent, ending their lives on the other side of the globe. They left descendants, even if the vast majority of travelers and enslaved captives left no specific archive. Some figures do emerge with particular vividness, for instance Antonio de Albuquerque de Coelho (1682-1746), who was born out of wedlock in Pernambuco, Brazil – his mother was said to have « white, negro and Amerindian blood … in about equal proportions » – and became the Portuguese colonial governor of Macao as well as Timor.

Forbes died in 2011. The American Discovery of Europe was his last major work, pushing his arguments about human movement and cultural exchange backwards into prehistory, to American as well as European foundations. A history of outliers can expand a reader’s sense of historic possibility. Start with a straightforward proposition about ocean currents, and soon our encrusted convictions about human history begin to crack. Consider some of the leads followed in chapter 4, « From Iberia to the Baltic: Americans in Roman and Pre-Modern Europe »:

  • A « Roman-like head found in a Matlatzinca pyramid » in Mexico, a possibly Hebrew inscription in a Cherokee cave, and evidence of tobacco leaves (an American crop) « in the cadavers of ancient Egyptian mummies. »

  • A mosaic in Pompeii that seems to represent a pineapple and a chili pepper (also American), plus a wall painting of husband and wife, in which the woman appears predictably Mediterranean but the man « is very ‘Mexican’ looking with brownish skin, high cheekbones, large semi-Asiatic eyes, and dark hair. »

  • A Roman bronze head resembling an Indigenous American, housed in the Louvre. (Forbes, gently knocking European clichés about « spiritual » Indians, observes that the bronze might be a divining urn, which would mean « that as early as two thousand years ago the Romans began to associate mystical or spiritual matters with a Native American. »)

  • The writings of Roman geographers Pomponius Mela and Claudius Plinii (Pliny) on « Indians » in their midst, prefiguring Columbus’s later misconceptions of homines de catayo in Ireland.

  • Four baked clay masks, of uncertain provenance, at the Pitt Museum in Oxford that resemble Mexican « death’s heads. »

  • Harpoon tips of possibly Inuit origin found in Ireland and Scotland.

  • Evidence of syphilis in Europe before 1492.

Forbes weighs these nuggets, dismissing some and defending others. Eventually you’ll find yourself amenable to the suggestion that if Roman artifacts were discovered in an archaeological dig in Mexico, it would mean not that Romans made their way to the Americas, but that Americans made their way to Rome and returned.

Can we know? Uncertainty is itself part of the book’s purpose: to show that the familiar vectors of the Columbian exchange can be flipped, to remind us that archaeology and genetics are, after all, human endeavors with their own histories. Forbes sometimes observes that archaeology has not yet found evidence of something – « archaeology does not, thus far, support Inuit occupation of the south of Greenland in the 900s although Inuits of Dorset culture were there in earlier times » – and he dabbles, self-consciously, in discredited or controversial ideas, noting that « the accepted theories of today may well be the repudiated theories of tomorrow. » (The American Discovery of Europe appeared around the same moment as Charles C. Mann’s much more widely read 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus [2005], which synthesized recent decades’ findings in history, archaeology, paleontology, etc., but which did not consider Forbes’s question of transatlantic travel.)

A salutary suspicion of scientific certainty is good for the historical imagination. So, too, is a caution about the seeming certainty of DNA. Observe the vast historical swirl of migration and mixing from above, and generalizations about genetic distribution should tremble. « Unfortunately, most geneticists and bio-historians are usually poorly trained in ethnohistorical methodology, » Forbes writes, « and know very little about the documented movements and mixtures of human beings during recorded history. » Discovery has several meanings in this book: the finding of something new, sure, but also the peeling off of a false epistemological veneer.

Nothing is so historically contingent, after all, as any given moment’s certainties about the origins and age of humanity. The 20th-century saw a narrowing of human history. We’re now told, by default, that the Americas were peopled from Asia by migration over Beringia, a land bridge, 15,000 years ago, give or take, a hypothesis that dates back in some form to the 1930s. « White scholars, » Forbes noted, « seem to be uniformly convinced of the existence of the Imakpikia landbridge during the late Pleistocene. » (Imakpikia, his name for Beringia, which he doubted the existence of, is adapted from « Imakpik, » the Alaskan indigenous Yup'ik name for the Bering Strait.) The American Discovery of Europe is most valuable as a metahistory, tracing the curious histories of the claims themselves. 19th-century writers were open to the prospect of a far deeper past, and to the possibility « that pre-Columbian Americans had become travelers to distant continents. » Some theorized that Basque was in fact an American language, and that homo sapiens emerged originally in South America. One John T.C. Heaviside could suggest in 1868 that « the Egyptian pass[ed] his childhood in America, and there learn[ed] how to build his pyramid and how to raise his obelisk. »

Following Forbes’s footnotes will lead you down rabbit holes of pseudo-archaeology or it will put you into a living and lively dialogue with historians of earlier eras, some of whom he invokes in the present tense. A lot of it was entirely new to me. When he mentions a historian named Paul Gaffarel and calls him « a careful student of these matters, » I expected a contemporary. Instead I found myself reading a text from 1892: Histoire de la découverte de l'Amérique depuis les origines jusqu'à la mort de Christophe Colomb. How little we know about the history of what we know!

Forbes’s career brought him often to Europe. Perhaps he first encountered the Zierikzee kayak while holding the Tinbergen Chair at Erasmus University Rotterdam, in 1984. The Low Countries have a significant presence in The American Discovery of Europe, from the mermaid of Edam to the intriguing but dubious suggestion that the painter Jan Steen’s Het huwelijkscontract (1668) portrays an American Indian among its drunken revelry. Antwerp provides the frame narrative of Thomas More’s Utopia(1516), in which More converses there with one « Raphael Hythlodaeus, » a fictional member of Amerigo Vespucci’s crew, freshly returned from the New World. Forbes holds out hope that More spoke with real Brazilians in Antwerp, too. It would mean that specific Indigenous Americans had played a personal role in « the evolution of European social thought. » These are aesthetic and intellectual analogues to the lines of descent that Forbes’s historical canvas encourages us to imagine. There is something poetic about Forbes looking into the deeper European past and finding unacknowledged kin. The book is a census of the possible.


One satisfaction of teaching is the opportunity to tell students the things that were revelations to me when I first learned them myself, especially if I learned them late. Perhaps all lectures should be built around the things one wishes one had learned sooner: for instance that Columbus’s interpreter in 1492, Luis de Torres, was a Jewish convert to Christianity who spoke Arabic, and likely tried out that sacred language when first speaking to the Taíno people on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Or that Europeans made their way to America long before Columbus.

Even within the European « age of discovery » there are early, unrecorded encounters to be glimpsed between the lines. The historian James Axtell noted, about the coasts of North America, that « no matter how early a European ship is known to have touched on New England’s shores, Indian reactions or possessions suggest that it had been preceded by others. » Thus the Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real, in 1501, found a Venetian sword among the possessions of the fifty-seven Indigenous people he kidnapped in what is now Maine. Perhaps the sword had been bartered four years earlier, in 1497, from a crew member of the Italian explorer John Cabot’s expedition on behalf of England. Cabot himself encountered Basque fisherman off the coast of what is now Canada, who had been pushing westward for decades in search of cod.

The American Discovery of Europe is one of those books that transformed how I think about the « beginning » of American historical narrative, and how I think about thinking about it. Annette Kolodny’s In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxieties of Discovery (2012) is another. Kolodny was a literary scholar, seven years younger than Forbes. In Search of First Contactwas her last book – she died in 2019 – and like Forbes’s American Discovery of Europe, it marked a European turn. (Her earlier books, The Lay of the Land [1975] and The Land Before Her [1984], were feminist and environmentalist inquiries into American frontier mythologies.) It is an inquiry into the Viking explorations of North America a millennium ago – as fact, as fantasy, as projection, as legacy, as literature.

The Vinland sagas were medieval Icelandic tales recounting Norse voyages to, and attempted colonizations of, North America. The oral tales were first written down in the second half of the twelfth century, but record events from almost two centuries before. The Greenlanders’ Saga follows Thorvald Ásvaldsson and his short-tempered son Eirik the Red. Banished from Norway and Iceland, they set out westward, with Eirik’s son Leif, discovering and naming Greenland as well as « Markland » (now thought to be Labrador). The text places these events « fifteen years before Christianity was adopted by law in Iceland, » which would mean 985, and the sagas register a Scandinavian mixture of Christianity and Old Norse religion. The heroes find wild grapevines in a third new land – hence Vinland or Wine-Land – populated by people they call « Skraelings. » After three winters in Vinland, the colony falters amid internal treacheries and violent wars with the Native inhabitants. Eirik the Red’s Saga follows other Viking adventures and privations. Its heroine is Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir – a well-traveled woman of the early 11th century, who had a child in North America and made a pilgrimage to Rome. This saga narrates different first encounters and conflicts with the Skraelings. In the strangest and most dramatic, Eirik the Red’s pregnant daughter Freydis, cornered, « pulled one of her breasts out of her bodice and slapped it with a sword, » which scares them off.

Emanuel Leutze, Die Landung der Winkinger in Amerika, (1846)

Where Forbes would follow the historical crumbs to demonstrate the possibility that captive Skraelings left genetic traces in Europe, Kolodny traced the long career of those expeditions and the Vinland sagas in the Anglo-American imagination. These Viking voyages fascinated Euro-Americans, Kolodny writes, because they were « the first written narratives about Europe’s encounter with the North American landscape and with its Native peoples. » In 1773, Benjamin Franklin was informed by « a learned Swede » « that America was discovered by their Northern People long before the Time of Columbus. » (Franklin was less convinced by the English minister Samuel Mather’s claim that America was known to the Phoenicians.) 19th-century New England poetry is thick with Vikings, as kitsch or as a claimed heritage. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, visiting Copenhagen in 1835, got some lessons in Icelandic from Carl Christian Rafn, the Danish historian who, in 1838, would make the most influential English-language case for the Viking discovery of America. The painter Emanuel Leutze exhibited The Landing of the Norsemen in 1846, five years before Washington Crossing the Delaware; in it, a pregnant Gudrid is carried to an American shore.

They didn’t know where Vinland was, which was part of its mystique. We still don’t know, though Kolodny follows all the possibilities. And who were the « Skraelings, » anyway? The term « served the Norse as a generic term for all the indigenous peoples of North America. » The sagas are inconsistent, probably registering various encounters with the different Eastern Algonquian-speaking peoples who made up the Wabanaki Confederacy: Penobscot, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Mi'kmaq.

In Search of First Contact brings Native accounts into a bracing dialogue with that literary and cultural history, parsing Native storytelling for traces of earlier contacts, for alternate histories, for narratively turned tables. In the typical European contact narratives, Native peoples greet European ships « as previously unknown wonders »; the European trope of Native wonder, Kolodny suggests, was « one way to claim firstness, and thus assert possession. » Native contact narratives do something different: an old Penobscot contact narrative, for instance, tells of « strange looking men, very whitish, pale skinned and a lot of hair on their faces. » Rather than « surprise, fear, awe, or wonder on the part of Native observers, » the Penobscot story conveys « matter-of-fact curiosity » and mild annoyance: « Our people did not know these people nor where they came from. No one in the Tribe approached them as they did not act right and were unknown strangers, some being very loud. » In many Wabanaki narratives, that is to say, « sightings of strangers in strange vessels from ‘over the sea’ did not necessarily imply firstness, nor did they always have to bode impending disaster. »

One of Kolodny’s refrains is the plasticity of the Vikings over the centuries, the plasticity of Columbus, the plasticity of history itself. In our moment’s contests over monuments, founders, and « firsts, » a reader feels a pleasant sort of vertigo when looking upon the sculptor Anne Whitney’s statue of the Norse explorer Leif Eiriksson, installed in Boston in 1887. Some Boston Brahmins, in that era of Catholic immigration, preferred a Norse « discovery » of America to a Columbian one because Leif Eiriksson was no Italian. At the same time, some Catholics could embrace Viking-American forebears because the Icelanders were, after all, pre-Protestant Christians.

These excavations yield narratives that are powerfully ambiguous in their implications for ideology and identity. They appeal to me again now because they un-flatten history and un-collapse historical interpretation. Kolodny’s purpose was not to « redeem » American history, whatever that would mean, nor to look away from the more familiar brutalities. To the contrary, the Vinland sagas now stand as « prophecy texts »: even though the colonial project they reveal is « never realized but only ever-incipient, » one cannot help but read them « as the tacit preamble to a tragic and very American tale. » Rather, the book prods us to dispense altogether with a fixation on « first contact. » First contacts are always phantoms; human populations have always been in motion. There is always a before that can still surprise us. In Search of First Contact remains a challenge to our certainties.


I am writing this essay for the European Review of Books. It has been my way, indirectly, of pondering the magazine’s own foundations. It felt important to challenge some « European » certainties, to model both the skepticism and the strategic credulity that such an enterprise will demand. I suppose it is predictable that we would arrive at Michel de Montaigne and the European discovery of the essay form.

Montaigne, by the standards of the geographies charted so far, did not travel very widely in his lifetime. He was born in 1533 near Bordeaux and studied there. After an aristocratic career in law and politics, he retired to the Dordogne to write. In 1580, he traveled to Italy, and through Tyrol, Switzerland, Bavaria, and Baden-Württemberg, seeking relief from the pain of kidney stones. It is an earlier trip that concerns us now: In 1563, he had traveled north to Rouen, and there had « a very long talk » with a much more worldly Tupinambá man from Brazil. « I used a stupid interpreter, » he tells us sadly, « who was so bad at grasping my meaning and at understanding my ideas that I got little joy from it. »

That encounter is narrated in « des cannibales, » a classic entry in the first volume of Montaigne’s Essais (1580), which inaugurated the essay as a mode of seeing the world and the self’s place in it. Its famous punchline is that Europeans were the real cannibals. « I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive » – that is, European-style – « than in eating him dead; more barbarity in lacerating by rack and torture a body still fully able to feel things, in roasting him little by little and having him bruised and bitten by pigs and dogs … than in roasting him and eating him after his death. »

Much of Montaigne’s knowledge about « that other world which was discovered in our century, » he says, comes from a man who worked at his estate after having spent « some ten or twelve years » in the Americas. Credulity is one of Montaigne’s strategies, too. He describes this man as « a simple, rough fellow – qualities which make for a good witness » (it’s better when someone isn’t clever enough to be dishonest), and passes on a wealth of ethnographic detail, some mundane and some lurid, most of it tenuous. « Instead of bread they use a certain white product resembling coriander-cakes, » Montaigne notes. « I have tried some: it tastes sweet and somewhat insipid. » He makes a few jokes about polygamy. Their war practices he holds aloft as a model of valor, akin to the Stoics. « Their warfare is entirely noble and magnanimous; it has as much justification and beauty as that human malady allows: among them it has no other foundation than a zealous concern for courage. » This, of course, is what rapacious Europeans had corrupted. Montaigne’s Americans stand on a pedestal of nobility and purity, or in a state of nature, or they exist on the same plane of myth and abstraction as Atlantis.

...a recreated Brazilian village, with fifty real « savages » and a small army of Norman sailors pretending to be savages, reenacting a battle...

Montaigne sometimes deployed a broadly European « we », a congealed collectivity made possible by the existence of a non-Europe – « the New World we have recently discovered. » His perspective was, in that sense, a product of several decades of empire-making. The historical and political contexts of his writings are dizzying if you are new to 16th-century imperial rivalries and royal pageantries. The man whom Montaigne interviewed at Rouen was one of three Tupinambá people who had also been interviewed by King Charles IX. (Montaigne was one of Charles’s courtiers.) Some years earlier, in 1550, Rouen had been the site of a massive spectacle for the entreé of previous monarchs, Henry II and Catherine de' Medici. That spectacle involved a recreated Brazilian village, with fifty real « savages » and a small army of Norman sailors pretending to be savages, reenacting a battle between the Tabagerres and the Toupinabaulx. (The Tabajara were colonized by Portugal; the Tupinambá were subjects of the French.) By the time of Montaigne’s writing, the French colony in Brazil – la France antartique – had been defeated, but he threw a stone at Portugal anyway, suggesting that the Tupinambá’s most vengeful brutalities were in fact Portuguese borrowings. Montaigne had also been present for the Siege of Rouen in 1562, early in the French wars of religion, which would drag on for years after his death in 1592.

No wonder he was drawn to the wry perspective of an outsider, to the perspective that makes the metropole seem but a province. Montaigne’s visiting cannibals are asked « what they had been most amazed by » in their visit to France; he reports two of their answers. (« I am very annoyed with myself for forgetting the third, » he confesses.) « In the first place they said … that they found it very odd that all those full-grown bearded men, strong and bearing arms in the King’s entourage, should consent to obey a boy » – Charles IX was twelve or thirteen at the time. The other answer is a keen indictment of economic inequality, threaded with the poetry of an untranslatable grammar.

secondly – since they have an idiom in their language which calls all men ‘halves’ of one another – [they said] that they had noticed that there were among us men fully bloated with all sorts of comforts while their halves were begging at their doors, emaciated with poverty and hunger: they found it odd that those destitute halves should put up with such injustice and did not take the others by the throat or set fire to their houses.

Montaigne inhabits that European we but also implodes it, makes it mock and measure itself. His canny ventriloquism reminds us, gently, that revolutions might be deserved by the powerful.

Do these other mythologies and speculations reorient American history? If Europe had a different beginning, would it have a different ending? Would it change our reading of Montaigne if the Tupinambá he met in Rouen stood in a very long tradition of transatlantic travelers, longer than Montaigne could have known? Maybe. Some moments of the essay would then become pleasantly ironic. Montaigne considers « testimony from Antiquity » about Carthaginians striking out westward across the Atlantic, but then dismisses it. He includes the lyrics of a Tupinambá love-song, admires it as « thoroughly anacreontic, » and observes that their language, « incidentally, » has a grammar « rather like Greek. » In a passage that Forbes could have included, Montaigne wishes the discovery would have come sooner: « I am sometimes seized with irritation at their not having been discovered earlier, in times when there were men who could have appreciated them better than we do. » A good essay can conjure a counterfactual history. Sometimes the counterfactual history ends up being the one we are living in.


Sabine Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages (London: Rivingtons, 1868)

Fletcher S. Bassett, Legends and Superstitions of the Sea and of Sailors in All Lands and at All Times (London: S. Low, 1885)

Joshua Childrey, Britannia Baconia, or, The Natural Rarities of England, Scotland, & Wales(London, 1661)

Jack D. Forbes, A World Ruled by Cannibals: The Wétiko Disease of Aggression, Violence, and Imperialism (Davis, California: D-Q University Press, 1979)

_______, Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993)

_______, The American Discovery of Europe (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011)

Paul Gaffarel, Histoire de la découverte de l’Amérique depuis les origines jusqu’à la mort de Christophe Colomb (Paris: A. Rousseau, 1892)

John T.C. Heaviside, American Antiquities; or, The New World the Old, and the Old World the New.(London: Trübner and Co., 1868)

Annette Kolodny, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012)

Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)

Michel de Montaigne: The Complete Essays, translated and edited with an introduction by M.A. Screech (Penguin Books, 1993)

Tom Shippey, « Did They Even Hang Bears?, » London Review of Books (August 13, 2020)

Michael Wintroub, A Savage Mirror: Power, Identity, and Knowledge in Early Modern France(Stanford University Press, 2006)

Painted sea creatures on blue tiles, c.1650-1700

Anonymous, Veld van zestien tegels met zeewezens, c.1650-1700; via Rijksmuseum.

Atles català (1375), detail: eastern-most panel, with mermaid
Emanuel Leutze, Die Landung der Winkinger in Amerika (1846)

Emanuel Leutze, Die Landung der Wikinger in Amerika, 1845; Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf; via Stiftung Sammlung Volmer.

The painter Emanuel Leutze exhibited The Landing of the Norsemen in 1846, five years before Washington Crossing the Delaware; in it, a pregnant Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir – a well-traveled woman of the early 11th century, who had a child in North America and made a pilgrimage to Rome – is carried to an American shore.

Reenacted battle between the Tabagerres and the Toupinabaulx.

Cest la deduction du sumptueux ordre, plasantz spectacles et magnifiques theatres dresses, et exhibes par les citoiens de Rouen ... (Rouen: Robert Le Hoy, Robert and Jean Dugord, 1551); via John Carter Brown Library.