by Cyclone Covey, DFMES, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Originally published in The Midwestern Epigraphic Journal, Volume 20, 2006.
Comments on: Lawrence F. Athy, “Foreign Influences on the Priesthood & Nobility of Precolumbian America,” ESOP XVII (1983), 106-120 & “Beards in North America Before Columbus,” XIX (1990), 169-175.
THESE SEMINAL ARTICLES did not receive proper deliberation during the lifetime of Larry Athy, a deeply thoughtful genleman best known as one of the world’s 3 leading authorities on Comalcalco (with Neil Steede & Frank Reynolds) who declared Comalcalco not the most spectacular bust most important precolumbian site. Whether so, its inscribed bricks in many languages besides Mayan confirmed foreign influences. He notably demonstrated (at the 1988 ISAC Conference) a startling parallel of Aegean and precolumbian Mexican art, apparently confirming Olmec beards transatlantic. As a native of Ponca City, Okla. he knew Indians had virtually no facial hair, so conjectured goateed Olmec aristocrats including shamans Europoid.
Though the Mexican government decreed all precolumbian Mexican art & artifacts indigenous, Athy knew that evolution did not start at a height, conjecturing already-full-blown Olmec could have resulted from 100 men in 4 ships but probably many more men and ships visiting Veracruz and departing without establishing colonies or trade-after native women favored them, thus Caucasoid and Negroid descendants. Native Indian women, we know from Spanish colonial experience, preferred Black husbands because they treated women better. Athy neglected to note that the famous gigantic Negro Olmec heads beardless, thus Blacks unlikely co-responsible for Olmec beards.
Expressly discounting an Asian source, extrapolating from Indians of his acquaintance, he seemed unaware that while Chinese were not typically bearded, there were bearded Chinese immemorially, especially savants, shamans, and emperors. Neither did beards typify Mongols. Yet Mongol emperors also had beards, including Yuan & Ming dynasties. Genghis Khan was described bearded. Olmec sculptures indicate beards, however, as uncommon in Mexico as in China and Mongolia. The Shang empire stretched a thousand miles all the way to Gansu encompassing half-Caucasoid Turks and Caucasoid Tocharians (Scythian/Sogdian Indo-Iranian & Italo-Celtic Yuchis), whereas Asians migrating to America in remote antiquity who sired the uniform population of medieval and modern Mexico evidently hailed from coastal South China.