Any Realistic Ways to Connect Americas to Eurasia *Very Early On*?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by El Terremoto, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. El Terremoto Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering, and I know this probably sounds ASB as hell but I can't get over the idea of Bronze Age trade routes stretching basically around the world, with the Americas being connected to early trade routes.

    Is there any way to basically make this possible? It seems to wildly impossible because irl major and sustained contact happened in the 16th century, but there ought to be some PoD that could make trade routes up into Europe and across the Atlantic, or up from Japan to Alaska and down, no?
     
  2. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    Tin plus some agricultural revolution in the PNW (or Lands of Ice and Mice sort of thing) is the best bet. The Alaska Peninsula and especially the Seward Peninsula has deposits of tin. Smaller deposits are along the Yukon and I believe a little bit in the far southeastern corner. Problem is none of the societies had much need of it since although some like the Ahtna used copper, that was all they really needed. So you'd need some sort of agricultural revolution in the area to get the demand for bronze and thus tin mining going. More/better sailing and better shipbuilding will be a natural outgrowth of this, since there isn't much tin between Alaska and the Great Basin, so the PNW peoples will be importing lots of tin. I could see the islands of southeastern Alaska being overpopulated TTL and the Tlingit sailing in every direction. Sure, past Kodiak island it gets pretty bad for any sort of agriculture, but it isn't like their home islands are much better so they'll be mostly horticulturalists/fishermen/whalers etc.

    You'd need something to happen on the other side too, like with the Ainu or Itelmen. They should be spreading north as the Tlingit are spreading west and south. Eventually (given a thousand plus years) they'll meet somewhere in Kamchatka and be hungry for tin, gold, and silver from Alaska which will eventually filter into Japan and the rest of East Asia leading to more interest in the New World.

    PoD for this would have to be pretty early, not much later than the first century AD.
     
  3. bbbiiiaaabbbaaa Member

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    I can think of rep main ways to make this work.

    1. The Vikings got to the Americas ~9th century iirc? They didn't do much, but with a PoD a significantly earlier, u might be able to manipulate a situation where they have a more important relationship to the read if Europe and are their gateway to a lot of new world resources.
    2. In the 16th century, China easily had the naval ability to get to America Pacific-ways. If you could create a tl when China has both the incentive and the ability just a few hundred year earlier, could work out.
     
  4. El Terremoto Well-Known Member

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    This is a really good idea, actually. Thank you :)

    I was thinking maybe a remarkably early invention of saddles and bits for horses means that when the Old Kingdom of Egypt and Akkadian Empire collapse the horse nomads can start their being the scourge of civilization much earlier and, when things recover, end up being using their control of the steppes to directly connect East and West Asia. This would probably also mean a more important trade with Europe for tin/amber and may result in some maritime towns and chiefdoms in Brittany/Britain/Ireland.

    This would probably keep the Bronze Age going for much longer than irl in the Mediterranean, with less incredibly fragile trade networks, and eventually some maritime phoenician-esque states might crop up once yields get high enough and yee haw there we go eventually someone would probably end up crossing the North Atlantic to fish for Atlantic cod.
     
  5. Byzantion Well-Known Member

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    A Scythian Empire to the Behring strait would be interesting.
     
  6. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    The Bering land bridge not collapsing could go a long way to lending itself to cross-continental steadyish contact, though that probably borders on fantastical at best?
     
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  7. Arcavius Arms and the Man I Sing

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    This might be early Iron age but perhaps Hanno the Great is blown off course and finds OTL Brazil by accident...
     
  8. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Given that about half the ships would sink in a round trip until you get knarrs and caravels, or equivalent, the New World resources being traded would have to be INCREDIBLY valuable to make it worth it.
    Cacao? Nah, not that valuable.
    So... What?
     
  9. bbbiiiaaabbbaaa Member

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    If they think they can find a fountain of youth or some sort of equivalent, then they might consider it worth it.
     
  10. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    New World Silver? That thing that imploded entire economies in Europe?
     
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  11. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    That was with MUCH better ships.
     
  12. SpaceOrbisGaming Life long gamer and aspiring author

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    The land bridge that existed in the last Ice Age survives. Past that you could have them develop the wheel and iron working allowing them to make boats that could sail out to sea. Another idea is having somebody from say Japan or China discover the West Coast and set up trade.
     
  13. FranzAncheNo Citizen of the Republic of Pistoia

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    Way better ships?
     
  14. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    That the ships were 'better' doesn't decrease its (silver's) perceived value.
     
  15. El Terremoto Well-Known Member

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    Well navigational technology isn’t necessarily limited by technology being “Bronze Age” or “Iron Age” per se, hell the Phoenicians managed to figure out West Africa’s and Atlantic currents so who knows
     
  16. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    Without some Lands of Ice and Mice sort of thing, the Atlantic is much worse than the Pacific for trans-oceanic contact. There's pretty much nothing but uninhabited islands between Ireland and Greenland, and until you get to Nova Scotia there's no sizable populations (for instance, the Tlingit's numbers were estimated at around 15-20,000--the Beothuk of Newfoundland were estimated at 500-2,000, which is comparable to the number of Aleuts on Attu Island alone). There's also the issue of trade goods--it's feasible for gold and silver to be exploited by native Alaskans, it isn't so feasible for the same in North America because there is none there (except in the Carolinas/Georgia).

    Cod fishing took centuries for Europe to exhaust it's stocks to make it reasonable to build better ships and sail all the way to the Grand Banks. Fur, same deal, Scandinavia and Siberia still had a lot of fur.

    It's about 6,000 km to mainland Alaska (granted, winds and currents help) from the Tohoku region of Japan.

    The wheel appeared in Japan early but I'm not sure of how much the Ainu or the Kamchatkans north of them used it. Still, the Japan-PNW route was well traveled since it was one of the main migration routes to the New World for tens of thousands of years and presumably has something to do with the many small language families found in the PNW.

    On the other hand I don't think Japan or China have much of a reason to go the West Coast, not without more complex civilizations there which would need to be wealthy in gold and silver, which a Bronze Age Americas with long distance trade and early links with the Ainu certainly would do.
     
  17. El Terremoto Well-Known Member

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    Apparently over 200 Japanese people were confirmed to have crashed/landed in Western North America from the 16th-19th century due to how strong the currents are, and there's genetic evidence of some Japanese migration and/or presence in Western NA. Might that be a good way to achieve something like this?
     
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  18. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    The issue is that sea level was about 350 feet lower during the last ice age. The land bridge is probably still there, just under water.
     
  19. SpaceOrbisGaming Life long gamer and aspiring author

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    That could be fixed by having some of the land be a bit higher than in OTL. Or as I said before have one of the asia nations found the new world and set up something. I have no idea when that could be maybe in the middle ages. The east is as it was in OTL but the west is far more advanced technologically. So I could easyly see the US not be as big in this timeline. That is if the US would even exist in a world that has the North American continent as technologically-advanced as it would likely be.
     
  20. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    Very difficult. I used to like this PoD, but it relies on the sailors surviving along with the cargo being useful. By this I mean agricultural goods (buckwheat, millet is good for most of the West Coast including much of Alaska, rice is good up to southern BC assuming it's a hardy breed used in Tohoku) or maybe the wheel. Then you need the Japanese sailors (who will almost certainly be enslaved upon arrival) convince their masters of the use of these goods AND be able to show them how to use it AND reproduce it. Agriculture produces extra food, which in those societies would be tended by their slave wife (assuming they can get one). Maybe the exotic new plants (assuming the first harvest yields well) convinces the noblemen/chiefs to plant more, with the sailor's advice in mind, which later convinces experimentation on plants already utilized (wapato and camas being the big ones). The wheel encourages more weaving and helps the economy which leads to animal domestication.

    This also takes a PoD on the Japanese side, one where they take Hokkaido early (as in Heian period or so early). But that's not particularly early since we have only a millennia at most until Europeans show up. Not much time for the development needed to make a truly profitable trade (since why go to the PNW when there's still easier sources of fur, tin, etc.). And as you can see by how convoluted that whole scenario is, it's highly improbable. Elements of it are still useful, but Japanese castaways aren't going to kickstart a civilization. A far more likely PoD is said civilization kickstarting itself.

    Or maybe go earlier and ditch the Japanese entirely and have more sailing in Jomon/Yayoi period Japan which results in more contacts with the people north of them in the Kurils and Kamchatka who in turn are also sailing more so they're in contact with the Aleuts who are (or will later) be in contact with the Tlingit and Haida. This exchange would bring a lot of technology into the PNW (and beyond) and crops used by the Jomon and Ainu with it. Best time would be the Roman/Medieval Warm Periods since agriculture is possible further north.

    Land bridge is overrated, since it wasn't the Bering Strait but naval technology that inhibited contact and trade. Not that they didn't do a great job with what they had (Aleuts, Inuit, and many PNW groups were expert seafarers, that's how they crossed over to the Americas to begin with), but it's hard to bring your herd of reindeer across in a kayak. And since the locals don't want you there, why bother going for the risk? Otherwise it's likely the Chukchi or some other Siberian group would've displaced group after group in the Subarctic.

    As noted, there isn't much reason for Asian nations to find the New World, and if they do, not much reason to settle it. The Basques, Bretons, etc. didn't care to settle Newfoundland after all, and the Aleutians aren't very inviting as anything but a temporary fishing camp. Plus they're all barbarians anyway, so why bother with distant barbarians?

    But even if there was, say, Japanese or Chinese colonialism there in the 1200s, the locals will give them one hell of a fight (since technology on the Asian side isn't as good as the 16th-19th century Euroamericans), but they could be swamped by sheer numbers (Japan and China were often times "full" before the inevitable plagues, famine, and war broke out). Not much tech will spread, even if it's likely that Amerindians will get a better deal than OTL.

    That's why you need better civilizations on the other side, to convince the Asians to want to go so far in the first place.
     
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