Zheng He reached Americas, circumnavigated globe before Euro


#1

A navigator and ameteur historian says Admiral Zheng He accomplished exploration “firsts” currently attributed Columbus and Magellan, according to this New York Times article. Comments? In particular, do you think China will use this research as another excuse to further its “historical” territorial claims in the South China Sea?


#2

Heck, looking at the ‘historical’ claims they enjoy making, I’m getting nervous they might start claiming California as part of their great Chinese empire. (I still have yet to see too much convincing ‘historical’ evidence that Tibet and XinJiang have been an ‘integral part of the Chinese nation throughout its history’)


#3

If that was the case, then the Danes (or was it the Swedes) could claim Canada thanks to Leif discovering the Americas well before Columbus or Zheng He. There’s also plausible evidence that Chinese on small rafts reached the Americas several hundred years before that, and even suggestions that Irish monks, Romans and Africans might have all made it. Columbus was just the first ****** to get there and mke it ack to tell somebody who actually cared.

Bri


#4
quote:
Originally posted by Bu Lai En: If that was the case, then the Danes (or was it the Swedes) could claim Canada thanks to Leif discovering the Americas well before Columbus or Zheng He. Bri

The Norwegians, actually (Leif Erikson).


#5

Interesting article. Thanks for posting the link.

I read today that a mainland man was the recent co-discoverer of a comet. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Beijing started to claim swaths of the galaxy because of this

For those unfamiliar with China’s basically absurd claim to the entire “South China Sea,” several websites cover aspects of this. Here are two.
www.middlebury.edu/SouthChinaSea/
http://www.american.edu/TED/ice/SPRATLY.HTM

Look at what China says is its border to the south. Unbelievable.

FWIW, Taiwan’s got a toehold one some of those little islands there, too.


#6

Come on ya’ll!

We all know that the early Christian Irish monk, Brendan reached the New World way back in the 9th century. He leather kayaked his ass over via Greenland. Even National Geographic did an article on that!

And we also know that the great Han blue sea admiral - Zheng He - was a very late arrival to the “America’s” by Asian standards.

I was watching a show on cable TV the other day. It was from the late 1970’s. Evidentally a re-run. That “Mr. Spock” Dude from the Star Trek shows was crapping on about how Aliens built the Nazca lines in South America a REALLY long time ago. Go figure, a bunch of real “wai-gwo ren” beat all of us to the punch.

Anybody seen Elvis?


#7

Some more info on Leiv Erikson here:
Leiv Erikson Biography

Quite a lot of discussion on whether he was from Norway or Iceland.

Anyway… as a Norwegian I hereby declare Greenland, Canada and USA as Norwegian territory!


#8
quote:
Originally posted by jbl: Quite a lot of discussion on whether he was from Norway or Iceland.

Iceland was basically settled by the Norwegians, partly by people that had fallen out of grace with the king. It’s pretty clear that Leif Erikson was one of those disgraced Norwegians, who after having settled in Iceland decided to continue further west. In other words, he was a Norwegian who had settled on Iceland.

Norwegians normally went west where they settled Iceland, Swedes went east where they founded the first Russian kingdoms (many historians say that the part Rus in Russia is derived from the name of a part of the archipelago outside of Stockholm, Roslagen) to continue on the rivers down to the Black Sea and then out onto the Mediterranean, while the Danes went south and took over England, ransacked Ireland, the French coast and even beseiged and then plundered Paris. Thus you have names like Normandie and Yvetot.

But we’re all peace-loving folks these days.


#9

St. Brendan wrote down some of his stories. Much of it seems quite fanciable but many of his creatures are very plausible. He reports seeing parrots and other birds such as are found in the Americas only. He followed well known routes across the north atlantic islands of the time.

He also seemed to have done the old ‘camp on the whale’ trick that all ancient explorers did. You know the one that the sailors confused an island with a whale, I think they brought some of those magic mushrooms along while they were at it.
Brendan was fascinating cos he got all his ideas in a dream. It was a test of his and the monks faith in God that they would find a land to the west. These stories were well known in his own lifetime and he was celebrated for it all over Ireland and Scotland. HE set up many monasteries afterwards and was a famous educator.

You can still visit huts in Ireland that were built in the 10th century in the area from where he was based. You can also sail in the same boats he used to this day—the currach , a flimsy tarred leather skin boat.

About ChengHe he is really fascinating. His flotillas must have been some of the most awesome sights in all of history!


#10

The recent discussion of Chinese History reminded me of this thread, and of an interesting article that I read recently…

1492: The Prequel


#11

Actually it would be relatively simple to prove that the villagers are of Chinese origin with a DNA test. Similarly you could do a DNA test on the most ancient graves and some carbon dating to establish the century when they died. Takes money but.

There have been Chinese working on ships for 100s of years all over the region, my guess is the shipwreck could have been more recent in the last couple of hundred years.


#12

Natives view remains as sacred and usually don’t let testing get done. Recently there was this skull that scientists wanted to test to see if it was Japanese but that wasn’t allowed.


#13
quote:
Originally posted by haobana: Actually it would be relatively simple to prove that the villagers are of Chinese origin with a DNA test. Similarly you could do a DNA test on the most ancient graves and some carbon dating to establish the century when they died. Takes money but.

There have been Chinese working on ships for 100s of years all over the region, my guess is the shipwreck could have been more recent in the last couple of hundred years.


Haobana,

I was thinking the same thing about the DNA. Not sure why Kristof never mentions this in the article.


#14

I’m sure if you told the natives you’d stick a well in their village they wouldn’t complain about digging up a few bones. Works wonders.
It’s likely they would love to be proved to be who they say they are.
The DNA evidence could probably prove whether the men were of Fujianese or other ethnic origin too. They would have to look at the X c/some because as all the sailors were probably male mitochondrial DNA (which is the easiest to examine lineages with) wouldn’t be present from the newcomers. Anybody want to do a Documentary on it, I can organise the testing part!!!

I think ChengHe didn’t have full open ocean going capacity or maybe would not have been familiar with the stars so navigation would have been difficult as soon as he left the coastline in unfamiliar areas. I think I remember reading he followed the coast around India and Asia. He may have been clever enough to realise that rounding Cape Hope was a very dangerous thing to do and the fleet could easily have been destroyed.What I’m wondering is how come his ships weren’t affected by the wood boring worm that was the bane of most long expeditions in the sailing era?? Different wood? Not present in Pacific??

Just cos his ships were huge doesn’t mean they were true open ocean ships otherwise why didn’t they head east and explore the polynesian islands etc. It seems the most successful explorers seemed to use faster lighter ships in history, real or imagined. That said it surely is possible they would have made it across it they really tried.

St.Brendan: Leather skinned currach
Polynesians: Catamaran type canoes
Vikings: Longboats (basically rowing boats with a couple of masts)
Phoenicians
Egyptians: Papyrus reed boats
Columbus: 3 small sailing boats (of which I think two sank)

It they sent out a bunch of ships it wouldn’t matter if a couple sank as long as one made it.
Each one was more independent.

If you interested in these kind of theories about ancient history. (I love them myself) check out Graham Hancock’s website----
http://www.grahamhancock.com/intro.php


#15

There’s a new article about this in the New York Times Magazine (free registration required). I recommend it.

nytimes.com/2003/01/05/magaz … sition=top


#16

The Chinese invented golf and Cheng Ho brought it to Pebble Beach.

jakartagolfclub.com/AboutGol … istory.htm