How the discovery of a map revised the history of the worldMonday, November 16, 2020
At school, in history class, students are taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, which led the way to further European voyages of discovery. This piece of history has been debunked by Gavin Menzies, a former British navy captain, in his book 1421 — The year China discovered America. He produced conclusive evidence that it was the Chinese who charted and discovered the Americas almost 100 years before Columbus.
Menzies found an unusual chart called the Pizzigano chart that was drafted in 1424 by a Venetian named Zuane Pizzigano, which showed four islands in the Caribbean that did not appear in other maps and accurately marked places where no European had ventured before, such as Patagonia, the Andes and the east coast of Africa.
China was, according to Menzies, the only nation that had the astro-navigational skills and a big enough fleet to circumnavigate the globe and be able to draw an original map with such accuracy.
In fact, between 1421 and 1423 the Chinese mounted the largest fleet the world had ever seen with over 800 ships for the purpose of bringing the entire world into the 'tribute system', under which foreign rulers paid tribute to China in return for trading privileges and protection against their enemies.
Chinese Emperor Zhu Di commandeered his bodyguard Zheng He, a eunuch, to assemble and lead the armada. Eunuchs were Mongol boys whom the Chinese had castrated by severing their penises and testicles after defeating the Mongols in the fourteenth century. They were then conscripted into the army or employed to guard the emperor's concubines. Only sexless men were permitted inside the palace to ensure that all children born to the concubines had been fathered by the emperor alone.
Menzies followed the routes the Chinese had taken and searched for traces of their presence in places along those routes. In this task he was helped by his experience as a navigator in the British navy.
Shipwrecks of Chinese junks were found in America, Australia, and India. For example, in 1965 a rudder about 40 feet high was unearthed near a shipwreck in Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia, and was Chinese because only China built ships which such large rudders.
Scientific: DNA evidence showed that American Indian people in the Amazon, Brazil, and Venezuela carried diseases and genes unique to China.
Cultural: The strongest signs of Chinese influence in Mexico was in Uruapan, where the preparation of lacquer and other dyes unique to China were identical in both cultures.
Chinese settlers intermarried with local Indians in the Americas and exchanged their silks and ceramics for treasures with the Mayan in Mexico and the Incas in Peru. The older generation had beards, while the women were proud of their black hair, as the Chinese were and wore a single garment shaped like a wool sack was sleeveless and gathered at the neck.
A wide variety of animals and crops were carried to and from the Americas so that mylodons and sea otters from the Americas were found in New Zealand; and crops like tobacco, sweet potato and maize from the Amazon were exported to south-east Asia.
Linguistic evidence of Chinese visits to South America include a similarity in the formation of words so, for example, a sailing ship is chamban in Colombia and sampan in China and a raft is balsa in South America and palso in China.
Circumstantial: The Chinese used to leave carved stones as monuments of their achievements when they stopped at places. Such a stone called the Matadi Falls was found in the Congo, and others were found in Janela in Africa and in Dondra Head in Sri Lanka.
In 1968 a submerged emergency dry dock called Bimini Road was discovered near North Bimini in The Bahamas. It was Chinese because the stones used to make it were from Yangtze in China and would have been cut in Nanjing, where the Chinese treasure ships were built.
Colonies: A stone village, which was proof of Chinese colonies, was found as far north as Canada on the Bache Peninsula of Ellesmere Island comprising about 23 houses as well as a number of beacons.
The Chinese also established colonies along the Pacific coast of America from California down to Ecuador.
Professor Judith A Carney of the University of California argues that it was the Chinese who taught the American farmer how to farm, and by the 1870s 75 per cent of farm labourers in California were of Chinese origin.
Gavin Menzies found on a modern map the Caribbean islands that were shown for the first time on the Pizzigano chart. For example, Satanazes was identified as Guadeloupe or Satan Island. It was reportedly inhabited by Carib cannibals who used human skulls as drinking vessels and other body parts as food.
Admiral Zheng He and his fleet colonised America and transplanted economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.
Chinese historians have accepted the evidence and archaeological teams all over the world are excavating sites believed to contain relics of Chinese shipwrecks.
The Chinese provided the Europeans with maps, navigational tools, and an astronomical calendar beyond anything they produced on their own.
Methods of calculating latitude and longitude were also transferred so that Columbus, Magellan and other explorers used them to reach the Americas.
Victor A Dixon is a social scientist and lives in Florida, USA. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com .