For some reason, the question of who discovered America has always been a hot topic among alternative historians. The question has a pretty conclusive answer: the ancestors of the Native Americans who migrated from Asia. Dating is tricky, but I’ve heard ranges from 12,000 – 16,000 BCE.
For some reason, those folks don’t count. I don’t know if it’s cultural chauvinism or just a lack of romance, but some people seem to want there to have been a bold crew of explorers blown off course by a storm who landed on the shores of North America. Candidates for the bold explorers have come from Ireland, China, Norway and other places.
Another popular candidate are the Phoenicians, the ancient merchant kingdom located in what is now Lebanon. This would give the New World a tie to the Bible, and play into a great deal of speculation about the Native Americans somehow being tied to Israel.
To prove that it is at least plausible that they made the journey, retired businessman Philip Beale hopes to sail across the Atlantic in a replica ship. From Paleojudica:
Man’s mission to prove Phoenicians discovered the Americas a thousand years before Columbus
Mr Beale has already been on an epic voyage in his 50 tonne wooden vessel – aptly named The Phoenician – after he sailed it around Africa in 2010.
He hired archaeologists and traditional shipwrights to construct the boat based on the design of an ancient galley found wrecked in the western Mediterranean.
The odyssey is expected to take two to three months, setting sail from Tunisia and arriving in America via the Atlantic Ocean.
He has also been invited by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to be part of the museum’s landmark exhibition on the Phoenician civilisation, opening in September 2014.
(The original article is via the Daily Mail, which I prefer not to link to.)
I don’t know what Beale hopes to prove. Unless he’s going to the and make the whole journey with no medical supplies, no maps and a hold full of salted fish, he’s not going to be replicating the conditions that the Phoenicians were under. And at best he can only hope to show that the voyage is plausible and not that it happened.