ULAN BATOR -- Challenging the long-held notion that it was the Europeans who were the first non-native visitors to the Americas, a Mongolian professor of history has claimed that the Mongols reached the American continent first.
"About 8,000 to 25,000 years ago, Mongols with stone tools crossed the Aleutian Islands and arrived in America first," Sumiya Jambaldorj, a history professor from Chingis Khaan University, said Thursday.
Jambaldorj's claim is based on his study of place names in America and their similarity to names in the Mongolian language.
"More than 20 place names of the Aleutian Islands belong to the Mongolian language, five of which are still used in modern Mongolian, such as 'Ataka' and 'Ushka', " Jambaldorj said.
"'Ataka' and 'Ushka' mean 'small place' in Mongolian," he added.
"Many names of places and rivers in the US state of Alaska are believed to be Mongolian," the professor said.
An American Indian language also contains some Mongolian words, such as "hagaan," which also means ancestor, or 'khan' in Mongolian.
"I think both the ancestors of the Mongolian and the Indian peoples share something," Jambaldorj said.
Stone tools found in the Aleutian Islands have only previously been found in the Gobi desert area of Mongolia, he added.