B. C. - Before Columbus
Normally, it would not be unusual to find a stone with engraving on it in South America. But a stone found in 1872 in Brazil is unusual, since Aztec, Mayan and Incan civilizations never lived in that region. Besides, the engraving on the stone was in Phoenician. Its discoverer, who did not know Phoenician, sent it to authorities who gave it to the head of the national museum. He recognized the ancient language and translated it. It reads, "We are the Sons of Canaan from Sidon, the city of the King. Commerce has cast us on this distant shore, a land of mountains."
Could 7th century B.C. Phoenicians have sailed as far as South America in search of commerce? In the ancient world, Phoenicians were known as the greatest commercial sailors of their day. But there is a modern bias against seeing ancient peoples as being as smart and resourceful as we are today, so the inscription has generally been considered a hoax. Then, in the 1960s, the original rubbing made of the inscription turned up at a scholarly auction in the United States. A modern expert on ancient languages studied the rubbing and concluded that the inscription must be authentic. It contains quirks of the Phoenician language that were unknown even to scholars in the 19th century.
While we today may know more facts, the ancients were no less intelligent and resourceful than we are today. That's consistent with the Bible's picture of man as God's highest visible creation, rather than evolution's gradually improving creature.