Sunday, January 22, 2006

Of Course The Chinese Didn't Discover America


And Columbus neither.

Simon Jenkins of The Guardian agrees:

The Chinese map is plainly a hoax. It not only shows North and South America as massive continents, which no sailor could possibly have known. It accurately depicts Alaska, the curve of central America and the Yucatan peninsula, not to mention the Mississippi and St Lawrence rivers. It shows Australia and the land mass of Antarctica beneath it, and New Zealand as two islands.

Even normally chauvinistic Chinese scholars have rubbished the find. They pointed out last week that the cartographic portrayal of the Earth as two circles on a flat sheet is European. The most obvious "mistake", showing California as an island, is clearly borrowed from mistakes made in 17th-century European maps. Nor are the Chinese characters properly medieval, that for the western God postdating the arrival of Jesuit missionaries. Zheng He's 15th-century travels in the Indian Ocean were indeed sensational, but they were well authenticated. Why diminish them by faking a circumnavigation? Besides, since the map is a copy, there is no way of verifying any original.

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