Did China discover America 70 years before Columbus?
Recently we reported on a new book by Italian physicist and philologist Lucio Russo who presented the controversial claim that the ancient Greeks discovered America long before Christopher Columbus set foot on American soil in 1492. Now another historian is arguing that the Chinese also discovered the ‘New World’ 70 years before Columbus.
Amateur historian Gavin Menzies has made a career upending conventional wisdom and has already authored three highly controversial books: ‘1421: The Year China Discovered the World’, in which he claims that a Chinese fleet helmed by Admiral Zheng He sailed to the Americas in 1421, and its sequel, ‘1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance’. He also wrote the widely mocked: ‘The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed’.
But is there any evidence for Menzies’ so-called outlandish claims? In a new book titled ‘Who Discovered America: The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas’, Menzies claims a Chinese map dated 1418 supports his contention that the Chinese were exploring the Americas in 1421. The map charted by Chinese Admiral Zheng He appears to show North American rivers and coasts as well as the continent of South America in some detail. He also writes that DNA markers prove American Indians and other natives are the descendants of several waves of Asian settlers.
Menzies claims that the map has been authenticated by an appraiser form Christie’s Auctions, as well as by a team of historians who concluded that it was written in the Ming Dynasty, a Chinese period that lasted from 1368 to 1644. The map is further corroborated, Mr Menzies says, by the Chinese names of numerous towns and regions in Peru.
Nevertheless, Menzies theory has been widely mocked by the mainstream academic community. In 2008, University of London history professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto said that his books are “the historical equivalent of stories about Elvis Presley in (the supermarket) and close encounters with alien hamsters.”
Menzies theory may not turn out to be correct, but what a sad world we live in when any person who is bold enough to present an alternative hypothesis to the mainstream perspective is mocked and ridiculed.