Did Europeans settle in the Arizona desert thousands of years before Columbus sailed to America?

Engraved on the cross found in the Arizona desert c.1922 is the tale that after landing on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Romans marched northwest until they arrived at a desert area near present day Tucson. (Photo from the Desert Magazine, December 1980.)

Engraved on the cross found in the Arizona desert c.1922 is the tale that after landing on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Romans marched northwest until they arrived at a desert area near present day Tucson. (Photo from the Desert Magazine, December 1980.)

Engraved on the cross found in the Arizona desert c.1922 is the tale that after landing on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Romans marched northwest until they arrived at a desert area near present day Tucson. (Photo from the Desert Magazine, December 1980.)

Engraved on the cross found in the Arizona desert c.1922 is the tale that after landing on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Romans marched northwest until they arrived at a desert area near present day Tucson. (Photo from the Desert Magazine, December 1980.)

EL PASO – In our modern world we tend to think of stories of pygmies and giants, dragons and the wee people, hidden treasures and mysterious lost cities as fairy tales and bedtime stories, but these yarns have roots deep in the distant history of the American Southwest.

Almost 500 years before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, Leif Ericson explored the land west of Greenland and established a small settlement. More than 300 years before Columbus landed in Santo Domingo in 1492, a Welsh explorer navigated up Alabama’s Mobile Bay and established European styled fortifications and settlements as far north as the Ohio Valley.

But perhaps even they weren’t the first to come to the new world. Roman Christians may have established a colony on the outskirts of what is now Tucson, Arizona as far back as 775 A.D. Unfortunately, mainstream archeology and academia have dismissed these discoveries as either hoaxes or simply as unworthy of discussion. However, to their chagrin, such unusual discoveries continue to be made.

It might be hard to understand that there have been discoveries that would change the history books and our concept of ancient history, but established academia has gone out of its way to suppress such discoveries. There have been dozens of discoveries that make it very clear that there was once a relatively advanced civilization occupying North America of which only bare remnants remain.

When the European explorers landed on the eastern shores of this great land, they believed that it was untouched by man. Then the explorers met the scattered Indian tribes that inhabited the east. Most of the tribes in North America were small and ill prepared for the arrival of one of the greatest scourges of the old world – the religious zealot. The Conquistadors were bringing the word of God to the heathen of the New World whether they wanted it or not.

The arrival of the Spanish was not an accident; there was a legal basis for their move to the new world. In 1095, at the beginning of the Crusades, Pope Urban II issued an edict, referred to as a Papal Bull.

The first of these Papal edicts affecting the new world was called Terra Nullius (meaning empty land). This Bull gave the kings and princes of Europe the right to “discover” or claim land in non-Christian areas. This policy was further extended in the year 1452 when Pope Nicholas V issued a Papal Bull entitled Romanus Pontifex, declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world and authorizing the conquest of their nations and territories.

These religious edicts treated non-Christians as uncivilized sub-humans, and therefore without rights to any land or nation. Christian leaders claimed a God-given right to take control of all lands and used these Papal Edicts to justify war, colonization, and even slavery of the people living in the conquered lands.

As detailed by Rick Osmon in Graves of the Golden Bear: Ancient Fortresses and Monuments of the Ohio Valley, by the time Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492, this idea, which was referred to as the Doctrine of Discovery, was a well-established concept.

Exclusive interview with author Rick Osmon

The Spanish, acting on the assumption that there were no previous civilizations existing on the North American continent, rushed in to claim the “empty lands” granted them by the Papal Bulls. In spite of contemporary tales of others finding the new world, the Catholic Church through its major sponsors at the time, the Spanish court and the Jesuit brotherhood, were able to ensure that history would show that Christopher Columbus was the first to find the new world. Spain was his sponsor, and thus Spain was due a legal and rightful claim to the entire New World, including all riches and human slaves that could be found there.

However, during the initial exploration, to their chagrin, there were signs that there had been a pre-existing civilization. There was even evidence that there had been a pre-existing “Christian” civilization in North America. This fact, alone, if proven, would have thrown the ownership of this great land up for grabs as the Papal Bulls would not have applied to the new world.

Under the instructions of their religious “advisors,” the Spanish moved to eradicate the evidence of earlier settlements, thus making the new world safe for conquest.

Roman legions in Arizona

There is evidence that in 775 A.D. a fleet of ships carrying 700 Christianized Romans left the Roman Empire under the command of Theodorus the Renowned bound for the New World. The information regarding this colonial effort comes from an engraved cross that was unearthed near present day Tucson, Arizona.

According to the story engraved on the cross, after a landing on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Romans marched northwest until, arriving at a desert area near present day Tucson, where they built a city that they called Terra Calalus. According to the records found, the colony flourished until approximately 900 A.D when the local Native American tribes that they had been oppressing for almost 125 years destroyed it.

Welsh visitors

The Romans were not the only Europeans to predate the arrival of Columbus. The Daughters of the American Revolution placed a most interesting plaque at Fort Morgan, Alabama few years ago commemorating the explorations of Prince Madoc, a brave Welsh explorer. A few historians have insisted that Prince Madoc and his followers landed on the shores of Mobile Bay in the year 1170, over 300 years before Columbus came to America.

At the unveiling of the plaque were Mrs. Mary Yale Williams, both a descendant of the Madoc family and a member of the family that founded Yale University, Hatchett Chandler, of Fort Morgan, at whose suggestion the marker was placed at the old fort and Miss Zella Armstrong of Chattanooga, author of Who Discovered America: The Amazing Story of Madoc, a book in which she concluded that Madoc was the first white discoverer of what is now the United States.

Many researchers have investigated the claim of Madoc and the 1170 date and a few have found substance in the claims. Much of the early research along this line centered on stories regarding “Welsh speaking Indians” that were purportedly of fair complexion and that used round boats built much more like Welsh coracles than like canoes. Indeed, several portraits and chronicle entries by early journalists, particularly by Meriwether Lewis and George Caitlin, appear to depict light skinned, blue-eyed people in native attire living among the Mandan tribe of the Missouri River country.

According to the story, hostile Indians killed Prince Madoc during an attack. Supporting this sad ending to the career of this brave individual was a discovery in Wales of an ancient chapel. During a renovation of this structure, a mural was found commemorating the death of Prince Madoc and in the mural the attackers were identified as feather wearing individuals who shot arrows at the Welsh explorers.

Ancient copper mines

According to the research of Philip Coppens in his work Copper: A world trade in 3000 BC? Predating even the arrival of the Welsh and the Romans, the era around 3000 BC saw more than 500,000 tons of copper mined from the so-called Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The largest mine was on Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior, near the Canadian border. Here, there are thousands of prehistoric copper pits, dug thousands of years ago by an unknown ancient people.

The mining operation on Isle Royale was neither small nor primitive even by today’s standards. The Mining Belt on Isle Royale is one and three quarter miles in length and nearly four hundred feet wide. The copper pits range from 10 to 30 feet deep with a maze of connecting tunnels that one archaeologist estimated would have taken the equivalent of 10,000 men working for 1000 years to dig.

After two centuries of speculation, no one has ever satisfactorily explained either the identity of the miners or where all of this copper mined by these unknown miners went. Dating of the relics found at the site revealed that extraction of copper from Isle Royal began in 5300 BC, with some researchers even claiming that it began as early as 6000 BC. Evidence for smelting is known to exist from “only” 4000 BC onwards.

The exact amount of the mined ore is perhaps never going to be exactly determined, but what is known is that about 1200 BC, all mining activity was halted. But around 1000 AD, mining was restarted and lasted until 1320 AD. During this period more than 2000 tons of copper ore were removed.

So clearly, there were a fairly large number of inhabitants of some sophistication living in North America over 5,000 years ago and there were a number of explorers and settlers here long before Christopher Columbus “discovered” America for the Spanish Crown.

In future articles, we will examine not only these stories but other fascinating aspects that are numbered among the many mysteries that make the Southwest United States such a fascinating part of the country.


Editor’s Note – This is the first in a series of articles that examines data showing that North America has been a crossroads for explorers from distant lands for more than a thousand years and that Europeans may have actually established colonies in America long before Columbus sailed the Caribbean Sea.

15 thoughts on “Did Europeans settle in the Arizona desert thousands of years before Columbus sailed to America?

  1. I had found a book in the geneology library in Pensacola ellaborating on the Prince Madoc (Madawg River) trips to America (3) starting about 1170 a.d. He was one of 9 sons supposedly descended from King Arthur Pendrake, perhaps grandson or great grandson. After the Father died these 9 were bickering about inheritance, lands, castles and Madoc, one of the youngest became disgruntled and with some of his close young cliques” of the court and others took off on ships and entered river area near Alabama/Florida boundary. The Catholic records of England had records of excursion. Went back after 1st trip but left some crew their who traveled inland. They went all around area and ended up in Ohio and other places married into Indian groups, including the dogan indians who became mandan indians. French explorers down the Mississippi noted Welsh style dwellings, white skinned indians who had Welsh words in their vocabulary. Of course from the Clovis groups prior to 10,000 b.c., Europeans had been in America already (also probably Phoenicians and possibly Egyptians/Minoans, etc.

  2. I found that book back about 1992. I aso found another book in their main Library on the legal proceedings and actions of King James of England/Scotland and saw an entry where he had appointed Sir Francis Bacon as Lord Verulum of England and in 1600 assigned him to plan and orchestrate the colonization of America. Bacon picked 1stly many Doctors, Lawyers, etc. for the early trips – some probably somewhat ill equiped for surival in harsh circumstances.

  3. You should forward this to the guy doing the show America unearthed, Scott Wolter. He’s making stuff up all over the place! Your article at least has truth in it. You should go on tv to debunk Mr. Wolter.

  4. I appreciate Scott W. contributions and rehashing of known materials. I am often quite amused that he doesn’t mention so many links and correlations with Masonic/Templar/British Israelite/Druidic symbols, happenings and histories. I see things all the time he is questioning or puzzled by that seem so obvious to me. I guess i’d have to learn how to spell or type correctly if i were going to debate anyone (i noticed my misspellings and syntaxic/punctuation mistakes from the 2 entries), but i don’t have time to bother with stuff like that usually.

  5. Anybody who believes the main argument of the above article is proceeding in another reality, one based on conspiracy theories unsupported by any documentation. The Welsh story has no historical support whatsoever unless you believe in fairy tales. As for a Roman legion–a few hundred years after the fall of that empire(!)–having the resources or interest ton venture across the Atlantic, then traverse Mexico unimpeded to settle in the Sonora desert near Tucson–well, maybe they were killed off by a band of Amazons from Russia. What a bunch of rubbish.

  6. The idea of a Roman City being built near Tuscon Arizona. is entirely possible and probably likely. How else would you explain the cross and its inscriptions. The critic who says that it would be impossible for a Roman city to be founded in 700 Ad since the Roman Empire fell in 476 Ad needs to study his standard history more before passing judgement.
    Only the western half of the Roman Empire fell in 476 Ad. The eastern half continued on
    as a viable empire until after 1000 ad. It was the part of the Roman Empire that was the richest. Although called Byzantine by westerners, there was never a break in Roman rule in what is now Turkey until the the Turkish invasion well until the 1400s. Mainstream science should seek truth more than protecting pet theories. There were a number of cities in Asia Minor that could had supported such an expedition to Arizona.

  7. The premises of the article are intriguing. I can fully accept the idea that Europeans and others predated Columbus. However, regarding the copper mines of the UP: How is it that ancient people found this region? Also, what evidence exists in Europe and elsewhere that men sailed to a far region to mine copper?
    Thank you…..please reply if able KM

  8. A few ancient wise men knew to look for information and knowledge in ‘unacceptable places’…perhaps they reasoned that they may otherwise end up as dumb as those who accepted what was common and comfortable(under religious/education guise usually) .
    There were even those who found ‘heretical truth’ in ancient maps brought back from the crusades (but what could those evil swine Muslim terrorists know anyway).

    I like the sheer artistic presentation of these middle ages maps …but they are also fascinating!…especially since there seems to be earlier source maps to them.

    Long will truth live…Hope you like it.

  9. I firmly believe that many ancient cultures “discovered” the Americas long before Columbus set foot here. There were many seafaring peoples going back thousands of years and we would be ignorant to think several of them never made landfall here. Where there is smoke…myths and legends all have a basis in fact.

  10. K McGee:
    I live in the UP and had never heard of these ancient copper mines until this article. I do believe it’s possible that Romans, Egyptians, or Phoenicians visited the Americas in ancient times, but for them or anyone else to have discovered copper here and set up such a huge mining operation seems decidedly unbelievable to me.

  11. I enjoy Scott Wolter’s history researches about the North American continent. I truly believe that there were European voyages that made it to America before Columbus. If you read Columbus Was Last, there is a chapter about the Welsh prince Madoc coming to America. He returned to Wales and brought another group back to America with him. They had to keep fighting the Indians and moving north, where they were allowed to merge into and intermarry with the Mandan Indian tribe. Some had lighter skin and more European features. George Catlin painted them. Supposedly there were many Welsh words in their language. Unfortunately, someone deliberately brought blankets to them contaminated with small pox, used by people who had been sick with small pox, and this decimated them (1830s). The DAR erected a memorial plaque to these brave Welsh near Mobile at Fort Morgan, but a hurricane has since washed the plaque away.
    I am very interested in the crosses found in Arizona with their Latin and Hebrew writings on them. I think we need to keep an open mind about history. It sounds to me that these people were wiped out, or nearly so, by the native tribes. Sometimes, there are things that mainstream Academia doesn’t want us to know about, but I don’t know why.
    Even in the 20th century, there has been misinformation. I know this is a different topic, but check out the truth about what happened to Amelia Earhart. She did not fly off into oblivion and ditch in the ocean as we were taught in school. She landed in the Marshall Islands in 1937, was captured by the Japanese, and taken to Saipan, where she and her navigator Fred Noonan were killed. FDR knew the truth and abandoned her. There are books by Mike Campbell, Thomas Devine, Fred Goerner, and T.C. Brennan about what really happened to her.

  12. I remember the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head that resembles a bearded roman man (or probably a Romanized Greek) that dated between the 2nd-4th centuries A.D. And also a destroyed roman ship of the cost of Brazil and a sunken roman ship of the coast of Galveston bay Texas that is buried in silt, sand and dirt or dust. Could be that Romans were blown of course or accidentally sailed to the wrong direction that they ended up in a land they were surprised to find. Or they probably they also knew of America’s existence by the via contact by Mycenaean Greeks and Phoenician/Carthaginians routes and directions. And Romans did knew of it, yet saw it as not worthy of conquering or exploration.

    As for the roman legion in Arizona. Well that is extremely, extremely impossible that they were disbanded in the 7th century A.D due to the Arab conquest, that they were reorganized and restructured into the themata and tagmata of the eastern roman army. But will say “it was catholic Carolingian franks that sailed to North America”. Well that’s no where near impossible. But as for the Byzantine Romans that still spoke vulgar/byzantine Latin could probably sail and got stuck or probably or possibly sailed back, since byzantine Greek became the dominant language of the empire, yet Latin was still spoken in byzantine Italy, Dalmatia, Thrace by the thraco-roman populace, Nicomedia, Nicaea, and Constantinople. And there’s a name that is mentioned called “Theodoros” is byzantine Greek. And the (eastern) roman empire have a powerful navy and wealth and resources that could do this, as others like the Carolingian Frankish navy and Moorish caliphate couldn’t have. Another that the (byzantine) roman scutatus militaris would be too exhausted and tired in the Arizona environment wearing their heavy klibanion armour, ridge helmets and large oval shields. And where heavy cataphracts would think otherwise to venture into the heat. But would this the second time that Romans would step foot into America? “Who knows”! But these artifacts could be either a very good and excellent hoax or are probably and possibly real that know one wants to accept that Romans ever came to the Americas. And the 775 AD could be another possible date that roman empire of the byzantine era could have been the contender in this.

  13. Pingback: Ancient Roman Presence in America – Knitting It Together

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