Everyone has that friend… you know who it is… the one who shows up late, but gets really excited about arriving and expects everyone else to get excited too? Well, it may be that Christopher Columbus was one of those friends.
Except with, you know, arriving on “newly discovered lands” and all that.
Christopher Columbus has long been known for being the “discoverer of the New World”, crossing the vast waters between Spain and the Caribbean in 1492—and of course, finally setting foot in America. Which he thought was India. Chris was definitely a special guy.
But here’s the thing—a British adventurer, a former Royal Navy officer named Philip Beale, believes that Columbus may not have been the first to set foot in the Americas. His theory is that the Phoenicians actually reached the New World a staggering 2,000 years before Columbus even knew what a boat was!
Beale said, “of all the ancient civilizations, they were the greatest seafarers—Lebanon had cedar trees perfect for building strong boats, they were the first to use iron nails, and they had knowledge of astronomy and currents.”
The theory is based on the writings of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote that the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa in 600 B.C.
And whether this theory is true or not, it is known definitively that Columbus wasn’t the first man on the scene—Viking settlements in Newfoundland place the New World’s discovery at least at 900 A.D. That makes Chris the second arrival at best… but possibly the third.
Will it ever be known for sure whether the Phoenicians made it to the Americas? Probably not. A number of artifacts that were thought to be of Phoenician origin, discovered on American soil, turned out to be forgeries.
Still, the incredible sailing abilities of the Phoenicians make it worth considering… did they discover America?