One of the most suggestive hypotheses that every history lover asks himself is that relating to the possibility that the Ancient Romans reached the Americas.
We must face this subject objectively and first of all, we need to distinguish the evidence from the clues, because the first is tangible and therefore it gives us certainty, while the latter helps us to introduce us towards the path to discover the evidence, therefore, having only clues we are left alone with assumptions and not with actual facts.
The first thing to do before investigating is to find out if the Romans really had the technical skills to reach the Americas and the answer of the experts is unanimous, yes, Rome had the technical construction skills to face the oceanic sea.
In reality, the Romans were not born as navigators but on the occasion of the First Punic War when they had to clash with the Carthaginians, the Romans learned very early the art of seafaring, soon completely dominating the Mediterranean, developing a very high level Navy.
A second question is that relating to the possibility that the Romans imported products from the Americas to Europe and on this, there is an artistic proof, in Palazzo Massimo in Rome, is preserved a mosaic where a pineapple is depicted with other fruits and still today this work of art constitutes an enigma.
We find another artistic proof in London, there is a Roman mosaic where we can see the presence of two small parrots, these parrots are not normal parrots, they could not be European parrots but they would be Macaw parrots, that is, American parrots, how did the two American parrots arrive in London in the Roman period?
Now let’s look at some clues, an important historical source, that of Pliny one of the greatest and most reliable Roman historians and authors who in his Naturalis Historia at one point creates a description of a plant that looks incredibly similar to the corn plant ( Naturalis Historia, chapter eighteenth paragraph 54-55).
Another important clue derives from the discovery of a wreck at the bottom of the sea of a Roman ship in the first century AD where typical instruments of a Roman doctor’s surgeon were recovered and in addition to the tools they found a small box with natural remedies that were usually used to cure some diseases or treat some ailments, however, what aroused the most interest are sunflower seeds which were found in the endowment of this Roman doctor and we all know that sunflower is a typical American plant.
An important link comes from some sentences written by Christopher Columbus himself where we find a quite interesting passage and makes us think again that Columbus had some ancient document in his hands, here is what Columbus wrote to Queen Isabella of Spain: “I had read that the lords of Castile had never gained lands outside of Castile itself and that this is another world which the Romans, Alexander and the Greeks were struggling with great effort to get to”, practically Columbus is saying that from his sources even Romans had made attempts to expand to a new world, perhaps Columbus knew something more detailed, perhaps in his period it was more common knowledge and there were more clues to the fact that there had been systematic ventures by the Romans to get to another continent that could be America?
Another very important ancient source comes from a 16th-century nobleman, Lorenzo D’Anania, who had collected a whole series of testimonies about the new world, directly from the son of Christopher Columbus, Fernando Columbus, also from Amerigo Vespucci and other explorers of his time, he had collected a series of information and had condensed it into a large work which is called the Universal Factory of the world or Cosmography; the second volume of this work, in particular on page 281 and the following, this Nobile, reports the existence of a tomb of a Roman soldier buried in the Americas with evident objects like coins from the period of Julius Caesar.
The conclusion is that the idea that the Romans could actually have landed in the Americas is very realistic, however, there’s still no certainty of it.