Monday, 20 March 2006

And a Chinese Thing—1421: The Year China Discovered the World

I've just finished reading Gavin Menzies, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World (Bantam Press, 2002) in which I discovered to my amazement and delight that Chinese mariners discovered the world much earlier than the European folk I was taught about in school:
These remarkable Chinese admirals rounded the Cape of Good Hope sixty-six years before Dias, passed through the straight of Magellan ninety-eight years before Magellan, surveyed Australia three centuries before Captain Cook, Antaractica and the Arctic four centuries before the first Europeans, and America seventy years before Columbus. 407
And there's solid and compelling evidence for this. There is even at least one wreck of one of their huge junks in New Zealand. There are the remains of large 150x50 foot stone buildings on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic which are thought to be Chinese. They travelled in huge junks 450 feet long, some with 9 masts, with triple hulls and watertight compartments...in 1421!

It's an amazing read. Thanks to my mother who recommended it.