(Hagae Comitis [The Hague]: Adrian Vlacq, 1652). 150 x 95 mm. (5 7/8 x 3 3/4"). 10 p.l., 282 pp., [1] blank (final quire bound out of order, but complete). FIRST EDITION.

Contemporary sprinkled calf, rebacked to style, smooth spine with green morocco label. Flyleaves with older bibliographical notations. Sabin 33014; Field 717. Extremities a little rubbed, leaves a shade less than bright with slightly browned edges, otherwise A FINE COPY, clean and crisp internally, the restored binding solid and not without appeal.

An important contribution to the European debate over the origins of Native Americans, this treatise by Leyden historian Georg Horn endorses the theory of Johann de Laet in essays Sabin describes as "supported by an infinite wealth of learning" and "display[ing] a high degree of erudition." The question of the ancestry of the inhabitants of the New World was of great concern to European Christians who wanted to validate the biblical version of the descent of man. In Renaissance Europe, how humans found their way to the isolated continents in the Western Hemisphere was as much a question of theology as it was of history or anthropology. When noted Protestant theologian Hugo Grotius entered the fray, he turned to philologists and classical historians--rather than to accounts by modern European explorers and missionaries--in support of his argument that North American Indians had Norwegian origins, that Central American peoples had come originally from Ethiopia, and that Peruvians were descended from shipwrecked Chinese. Johann de Laet, who frequently opposed Grotius' theological views, demolished these imaginative theories by pointing out factual inaccuracies and geographical inconsistencies. He offered 12 possible alternative origins for Native Americans and backed up his suggestions with references to the empirical data gathered by travellers to the New World. His preferred theory designated the Scythians of Northern Asia as the progenitors of the indigenous Americans, and maintained that the migration must have taken place in the distant past. Georg Horn (1620-70) comes in here on the side of de Laet, with the additional suggestion that there had been subsequent immigration to the Atlantic side of the Americas by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, and to the Pacific side from China. Horn's treatise cites accounts of early travellers to the Americas, and includes a discussion of the Huron and Iroquois peoples. Field finds in this work "a degree of learning and refinement, which we shall look for in vain, to find bestowed on this vexed question in later days."

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PJP Catalog: NY21BF.010


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