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Chinese Explorers 'Discovered America'? 822

FLY9999 writes: "According to British historian and map expert Gavin Menzies, Chinese explorers discovered America way before Columbus did. He will disclose his information to the prestigious Royal Geographical Society (RGS) at a conference next week."
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Chinese Explorers 'Discovered America'?

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  • Erm, great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @06:50AM (#3129367) Homepage Journal
    I hope this doesn't mean that they are going to claim us as a "renegade state" now...
  • All your Americas are belong to Chinese?
  • The greatest Chinese Navigator,Cheng Ho, rocked China's boat so much, they closed the ports...
  • by Fred Millington ( 444639 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @06:56AM (#3129381) Homepage
    Well, it seems that now scientists think that not only Egyptians and Vikings 'discovered' America, but now Chinese. Well, I wonder how many other sea-faring cultures have landed on these lee shores in search of a land of riches? Sort of brings to mind various historical-fantasy novels.

    • Read American Gods by Neil Gaiman? One of his premises is just that - a lot of the "old gods" we know from Rome, Egypt, etc are in the Americas as a result of theoretical expeditions like that.
    • Actually, what counts in these circles, is to discover somthing and then come back to tell people about it.

    • Well, it seems that now scientists think that not only Egyptians and Vikings 'discovered' America, but now Chinese.

      This is hardly news The idea that the Chinese landed on the Pacific coast of North America is at least a decade or two old.
      >Whilst the article ascribes maps to the Chinese in the 15th century this still does not explain charts on Antarctica without ice. The ice has been there a lot longer than 5-6 hundred years.
    • If you dig around, you can find some weird linguistic analysis that indicates traces of many european and asian languages in the american indian mix. "Language remembers more than its speakers. We can still sort out Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, French, Latin, and Greek in English, plus loans from Nahuatl, Hawaiian, ad inf., aware of centuries' infusions."

      Given the probability of one way trips to the americas, this is not totally outrageous [wfu.edu], but is so far off the map as far as normal high school educations go as to appear bizarre.

      While I may quibble on the details and the analysis, the basic concept is reasonable.

  • hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 08, 2002 @06:56AM (#3129384)
    explains a lot................ So, has anyone come up with facts on who DIDNT discover america before Columbus? America is starting to become like my car keys, everyone knows where they are except me.
    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      explains a lot................ So, has anyone come up with facts on who DIDNT discover america before Columbus?

      It's a bit big to miss, considering the only way around it is a long way South. (To the North is the Arctic ice cap.) Anyone sailing West from Europe and Africa or West from Asia will find it...
    • And do you know what this says? It says impressions are everything. The Vikings, Chinese, etc were here and what did they find? Nada other than some native Americans wearing skins. So none of them decided to make a second trip.

      Along comes Columbus and makes up a story of how much gold there was (actually did happen) and along comes the masses.

      People came here for gold, and riches. But then they came and found NADA! Other than some native Americans wearing skins.

      You know this could be the worldest biggest CON and the EUROPEANS fell for it hook line and sinker... Hmmm, no wonder we North Americans are so DUMB! ;)
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @06:59AM (#3129393) Journal

    The Vikings touched base 400 years prior to the Chinese. The Arabs had the technology and knowledge to do it. The Romans, Phoenicians, and Egyptians may have done it.

    But ultimately, none of those is important as Columbus' "discovery". Why? Because what was the end result of Chinese exploration of the Americas? Or of the Vikings? Or of Saint Brendan? It cannot be denied that Columbus had an effect on the history of the world (for better or for worse). Does this lessen the accomplishment of crossing an ocean? No. But exploration is only one side of the coin. There is also what you do with it. It's the difference between pure science and applied science. You can't have the applied without the pure, but the applied has a hell of a lot more bearing on the world.

    That said, I am fascinated by all things to do with geography and history. This is an unquestionably cool discovery. But it's not earth shattering.

    • Vikings (Score:2, Insightful)

      Time Europe article titled The Amazing Vikings [time.com]. It was part of a feature Time did two years ago.

      In addition to going to America 500 years before Columbus, they also did trades all the way down in Irak and formed the worlds oldest parliament.

      And it seems they did mushrooms [totse.com] to go beserk. Cool guys.

      • Re:Vikings (Score:2, Funny)

        by leviramsey ( 248057 )

        Vikings rule! That's all I can say!

        Thor decides he wants some earth loving. So he turns himself into a dashing young human warrior. He picks up this beautiful princess and they have a wild night. The next morning, Thor decides to reveal himself. "I am Thor," he says. "You're thor," the princess replies, "I'm tho thor, I don't think I can pith."

    • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by markmoss ( 301064 )
      Exploration is one thing. Exploiting a discovery across an ocean is quite another. The Vikings had too many opportunities closer to home to leave very many of them interested in taking up farms in Newfoundland. (One group had already conquered Russia; another conquered a province of France, became Christians, then conquered England, Ireland, Sicily, Jerusalem, ...) So they didn't get a big enough colony to fight off the indian tribes. There wasn't much chance they could get along with them. Lief Ericson's father had been run out of two countries for murdering his neighbors, and in America Lief couldn't even speak the neighbors' language before he started off by stealing their land...

      So the Vikings might have ranged along the coast, and their fishermen might have landed there to dry cod for some centuries. There are also indications that English fishermen were taking cod from the Grand Banks well before Columbus sailed, and of course they would have noticed the nearby land. But in 1492, Europeans were finally becoming ready to cross an ocean and _stay_. It was no longer possible to loot the middle east under guise of a crusade. Looting each other led to early death far more often than to wealth. But now they had much improved sailing ships so they could go out and loot new lands...

      Of course, those Englishmen who landed at Jamestown in the expectation of digging gold up on the beach, or stealing it from the Indians, were sorely disappointed. They had to turn farmers just to survive -- and then farming turned out to be quite lucrative, especially once explorers along the African coast found a solution to the labor problem...
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dallen ( 11400 )
      The most exciting part of Mr. Menzies discovery was not only that discovered America; Zheng He's ships also circumnavigated the globe and got very close to both the North and South poles.

      Additionally, Cook, Magellan, de Gama and Columbus all had accurate maps of the world. Mr. Menzies says: "What nobody has explained is why the European explorers had maps. Who drew the maps? There are millions of square miles of ocean. It required huge fleets to chart them. If you say it wasn't the Chinese, with the biggest fleets and ships in the world, then who was it?"

      Also, apparently the Chinese ships dwarfed european ships of the 15th and 16th centuries, and only about 5% of the Chinese explorers survived to return to China; But by the time Zheng He returned to China, the government was in chaos and the fleets were mothballed.

      A small number of records and charts survived to be passed to Western explorers.

      There is a more complete article about this in the London Daily Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk].
  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:01AM (#3129397)
    There is strong evidence that people as diverse as the Phoenicians, the Vikings, the Irish, the Welsh, the Chinese, the Japanese and English fisherman were actually in the New World, in some cases, millennia before 1492.

    Search internet for lots of sources: One with a short description here [millersville.edu]
  • by InfinIT ( 557535 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:07AM (#3129417)

    This is a great bit of news. We have know for a long time that the history of a war is written by those winning the war. This simply extends this theory a bit.

    It is very interesting that the history of the world is written by the dominant group of the time. All the European discoveries are posed as someone discovering something new. The ver fact that there were people in the USA when Columbous landed proves that he did not "discover" it at all - he simply opened the minds of the dominant group of people of the time (The Europeans)

    South African history is an example of this. Up till about 15 years ago, the only known history of South Africa was that it was discovered by Europeans, liberated from the savages and made a civilised country. REcent events have shown the barbarism of the European nations in the colonisation of the country, and has started to show the positive side of the indigenous people.

    I think it is great that something like this will shake some of the beliefs of the American people. It is nice to see that places outside the European nations actually did some discovery prior to the Europeans.

    On a final note - it is interesting that all the histories of the oriental races I have come across, everytime there is a meeting between the europeans (or other leaders of the known world) the Chinese are seen as very shrewd, civilised people - very few of the other cultured have had this benefit. Does it really surprise me (against this background) that the chinese charted Australia and the Americas before the Europeans? No...

  • It's not a big deal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by _Ash_ ( 126458 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:09AM (#3129425) Homepage
    According to the article:

    When explorer Christopher Columbus landed in America in 1492, he was 72 years behind a Chinese expeditionary force, which had already made its way to the area.

    And although Captain James Cook was credited with discovering Australia for the British Empire in 1770, the Chinese had mapped the island continent 337 years earlier.

    Sailing in 1,000-foot-long ships with nine massive junk-style sails, the Chinese also circumnavigated the world a century before explorer Ferdinand Magellan's epic journey, and reached South America.

    The reason why Columbus, Cook and Magellan get the credit is because they were Europeans. And, in those days, Europe was the center of the world. Western civilization sprung from Europe so to speak. Think about it: most (both north and south) American citizens have ancestors in Europe, so do the citizens in Australia.

    For Europeans, America and Australia didn't exist until Columbus and Cook hit their shores (the Vikings did it before Columbus ofcourse but that was forgotten). After that, lots and lots of Europeans emigrated to America and Australia (most of them for economic reasons ofcourse). Contact between them and the homefront was never lost and therefore Columbus, Cook and Magellan deserve some credit. Maybe not for first discovering the continents but for putting them on the map.

    • by skribe ( 26534 )
      Actually, Cook wasn't even the first European to discover Australia. Dutchmen Willem Janszoon, from the Duyfken [duyfken.com], mapped the top end in 1606, and Dirk Hartog landed on an island (now named after him) off the coast of Western Australia (WA) in 1616. In fact several Dutch 'explorers' visited WA in the years before the English laid claim to it and recently there has been suggestions that a Dutch colony was established in the North-West about one-hundred years before the English colony on the east-coast at Botany Bay (now Sydney).
  • Kewl (Score:4, Funny)

    by l0wland ( 463243 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnalw0l'> on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:10AM (#3129428) Journal
    Someday they'll dig up a Chinese skeleton in California, with a Viking-axe stuck in it's skull.
    • And they'll call him an American Indian (or native american or whatever the PC expression is), and destory the remains, as per Kennewick Man [google.com]

      • by mpe ( 36238 )
        And they'll call him an American Indian (or native american or whatever the PC expression is), and destory the remains, as per Kennewick Man.

        What was done with Kennewick man isn't even remotly funny though. (Other than the obvious irony of being discovered on the "Columbia River".) About the only thing we can be sure of is that he was Neolithic.Which is thousands of years before any Vikings, Chinese or Hispanic sponsored Italians came anywhere near America.
  • I'm sure that this is research of the highest caliber. And more importantly, it's the final nail in the coffin for nay-sayers who've refused to believe this. But the headline is misleading. The important point is not that Chinese discovered America, but that we can prove that the Chinese discovered America.
    What everyone else has been trying to say, but stumbling across is that, "When Columbus discovered America, it stayed discovered."
  • How... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garethwi ( 118563 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:14AM (#3129440) Homepage
    ...do you discover a country when there are already people living there?
    • Re:How... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mike Connell ( 81274 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @09:35AM (#3129758) Homepage
      And by the same logic, I guess we will never discover civilisations on other planets (how can we 'discover' it when there are already aliens living there?)

      How could Biham and Shamir 'discover' differential cryptoanalis when the NSA already knew about it?

      How could my cat 'discover' that the computer was warm when I already knew about it?

      How can I discover the joy of using Python when lots of other people already experience it?

      Maybe it's time to crack open a dictionary, and 'discover' what 'discover' really means!
    • "What you mean you discover us? *We* discover *you*!"

      "*You* discovered *us*?"

      "We discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it."

      "Oh yeah, never thought of that..."

      Chris Mattern
    • How do you discover a country when there are already people living there?

      <bias class="eurocentric">
      You "discover" a country when you are the first to bring alphabetic writing there. The Native Americans didn't discover the New World; most of them had no writing (save the Maya nation). The Chinese didn't discover the New World; they wrote with ideograms. The Vikings can lay a claim because at least they had a runic alphabet. We believe the claims of Columbus, Vespucci, and others for discovering different parts of the New World because they were able to write home using a small number of distinct symbols that somewhat closely correspond to the sound of the language.

  • "Too US-centric" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skwirl ( 34391 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:16AM (#3129444) Homepage

    I dislike cries of "too US-centric" as much as the next Yankee, but come on, the story here isn't that they discovered the American continent first. The wow-that's-incredible part of the story is the idea that Chinese explorers circumnavigated the globe 100 years before Magellan's voyage.

    As it has been pointed out, lots of people beat Columbus to the New World, (Vikings and Native Americans to name a couple.) but going all the way around the world is something of an accomplishment. Incidentally, when you sail around the world you're bound to bump into the American continent anyways.

  • by green.vervet ( 565158 ) <cheyenne DOT martin AT flashmail DOT com> on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:22AM (#3129451)
    The history books are always slow to change. We know, for instance, that Basque fishermen fished the Grand Banks (off Newfoundland) for at least a hundred years before Columbus sailed. It was a well-kept secret, but it was often argued that Columbus' wife (who was Basque) let him in on the secret. The Viking settlement on Newfoundland lasted a long time, so there was never much of a hiatus in contact between Europe and North America. Indications of trade with Asia on the West Coast of North America are long-standing - Chinese goods reached as far as Mexico. If this presentation is true (and it would be interesting to see what he is actually presenting, as opposed to what is reported) it would be welcome just as a response to those historians who speculate, what would have happened if zheng he had not stopped at East Africa and gone on to Europe? Would we all be speaking Chinese? The answer would be nothing, and no (or not yet, anyway). The difference between the two voyages of discovery was that for the Chinese, their motive was altruistic: to discover the world and share their civilization with others. For the Europeans, their motive was greed. The difference being, when discovery was starting to bankrupt the government in China it was first on the cutback list. Greed showed to be a more durable basis for exploration than altruism.
    • The difference between the two voyages of discovery was that for the Chinese, their motive was altruistic: to discover the world and share their civilization with others. For the Europeans, their motive was greed.

      You really think the Chinese emperors were such good, moral people? No, their interests were just as strongly economic, but America simply contained nothing China needed or wanted. While Spaniards and Portuguese were scouring the Americas in search of silver and gold (not by coincidence, Columbus' journey was inspired by Marco Polo's tale of imperial China), the Chinese were bullying smaller states around the Indian Ocean rim into paying tribute. America, lacking in precious minerals and fragrant herbs, simply was of no interest to the Chinese. It was of interest, though, to a growing European population that demanded space and raw materials.

      We remember Columbus better than any Chinese explorer for the same reason that we remember Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the telephone, though Elisha Gray had build one earlier (but missed Bell's patent by a few hours).
  • geee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iamthefallen ( 523816 ) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:25AM (#3129456) Homepage Journal

    And I thought the Native Americans, aka Indians would have discovered it since they lived there, silly me!

    The chinese couldn't have discovered it first, per our definition Discovering means "found and claimed by a white person with european descent".

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:29AM (#3129466) Journal
    All these films about things that happen in America are just a myth. The country doesn't exist. It's just a children's story, like Atlantis. There is no mythical continent across the atlantic. Think about it. If there really is a country there, then surely if you stood at the west coast of Ireland you would be able to see it. You can't. If you can't see something that you're looking at directly then it isn't there.

    I'm sure some people will disagree with me. Well, I ask you this - Have you been there? Have you actually seen this place? Why did nobody ever mention it until really quite recently? And I mean the past 100 years or so. I challenge anyone to find a resource more recent than 1900 that indicates that the place exists.

    It was clearly an invention of European governments to use as an excuse to devalue their currencies in the 1920's. They didn't want to blame themselves, so they invented another country to blame.

    Face it. America is a ridiculous liberal myth.
  • Yes, and ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SimonK ( 7722 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:31AM (#3129470)
    Henry Sinclair beat the Chinese by another 30 years. When he got there he found people in Nova Scotia speaking a Celtic dialect, He, in turn, was directed there by a couple of Venetians. The Vikings beat him by a few hundred years, and there is plenty of evidence that European fishermen had been sailing across the Atlantic pretty much all through history.

    The only thing that makes Columbus different is that by the time he got there the mechanisms and motivation to publicise the discovery and start the process of conquest and colonisation were in place.
    • Propaganda like this is part of any empire's claim on the world. We found it, we own it, right? Oh yeah, the party invented the helocopter. There is a reason communist countries try to claim all ideas and discoveries. It is to legitimize their ownership of all things. Even if true exploratory rants should cause apprehension. I expect the Chinese government to pick this up and produce, "evidence" that they knew it all along.

      Who shall stop the Chinese if they do want to conquer? No one bothered as they crushed Tibet. China is one of the largest best armed countries in the world, and it's under horrific central control. Make no mistake few are willing to stand in their way.

      Thank you very much Stright Times for presenting this information as you did. I imagine your Royal Navy sources are not pleased. No thank you, for the offer of an active X advert.

  • by chefren ( 17219 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:31AM (#3129471)
    Great! Now we are just waiting for (north) americans to discover the rest of the world!
    • Piri Reis drew an accurate map of the globe way before then, if we are to believe Von Daniken's books and research previous.

      We can't blame the Chinese for the bastardisation of European Culture that happened in America, we CAN blame Columbus. So give him the credit. (Flame me if you like, Americans).

      We can't blame whoever it was who cultivated tobacco since time immemorial, we can blame Walter Raleigh for bringing it back to Elizabeth I and making it trendy. Did he "discover" tobacco? NO. But in British history, he gets a lot of credit for bringing stuff back, when all he was doing was trying to impress the queen.

      We could go on and on.
      • Piri Reis drew an accurate map of the globe way before then

        This map [survive2012.com] was drawn by consulting much more ancient sources, rather than being drawn by Reis himself. Apparently it accurately mapped the coastline of Antarctica which has been completely covered in ice since before the Egyptian Pyramids were built. We know that the mapping of Antarctica's coastline is accurate thanks to seismic surveys that were carried out last century. Spooky eh?
  • It would seem to me that the "Native Americans" were the ones to first "discover" America.

    Moreover, they also peacefully inhabited the land and had a continental population that was close to that of Europe around 19th century. But we killed most of them, so they don't count right? At least they can live in slums and on their native casinos now.

    Why do white people always think they come first?
    • peacefully inhabited the land!?
      Perhaps you should base your ideas about Native Americans on more than Disney's Pocohontas.
      I'll give you a hint. There were a lot of different tribes. Some farmed, some hunted, some made human sacrifices, some raided other tribes, murdering, raping, etc. Just like most humans.
      I am not arguing that what happened to the Native Americans was not tragic. But to claim that the Native Americans were pacifists to make your point is sheer idiocy.
      A good book exploring some of the reasons the Europeans annihilated the Native Americans is, "Guns, Germs, and Steel", by Jared Diamond. It contains some very interesting theories about the availability of domesticable animals and crops and what a profound influence it had on the development of societies.
    • I know what they say about lies, damned lies and statistics. Check this out anyway, draw your own whatevers.


      "That's why I was so startled to discover that there is absolutely no pattern to the chart. If I had simply picked 25 countries out of a hat, I could not have gotten a more diverse spread than we've got here. We've got rich countries and poor countries; industrial and agrarian; big and small. We've got people of all colors -- white, black, yellow and brown -- widely represented among both the slaughterers and the slaughterees. We've got Christians, Moslems, Buddhists and Atheists all butchering one another in the name of their various gods or lack thereof. Among the perpetrators, we've got political leanings of the left, right and middle; some are monarchies; some are dictatorships and some are even democracies. We've got innocent victims invaded by big, bad neighbors, and we've got plenty of countries who brought it on themselves, sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. Go on -- take a third look. Find any type of country that is not represented among the agents of a major blooding, and probably the only reason for that is that there aren't that many countries in that category to begin with (There are no Hindu or Jewish countries on the chart, but then, there's only one of each on the whole planet, and they're both waiting in the wings among the next 25.).

      In a way, it's rather disheartening to realize that we can't smugly blame the brutality of the century on the Communists, or the imperialists, or the Moslem fundamentalists, or the godless. Every major category of human has done it's share to boost the body count, so replacing, say, Moslem rulers with Christian rulers, or white rulers with black rulers, is not going to change it at all."

      Read and weep.

    • Err you are kidding right ? Most Native American tribes would be classified as nomadic warriors. Sure they didn't have guns or heavy artillery but these were not zen buddist style people just looking for enlightenment.

      History with Rose tinted glasses, the world where no "primitive" culture ever had a problem with war, murder, rape, incest. All of those problems are a result of the modern world.

      And anyway... the Chinese are "White", Phonecians' were "white" ? Native Americans' are probably Russians anyway... damn commies :-)
  • Yeah, but they didn't bother to slaughter all the natives so they could form their own self-righteous, godly country and escape the evils of their own ;-) ;-)
  • by dustpuppy ( 5260 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:40AM (#3129495)
    When playing Civ 3 starting out in North America, every friggin country discovers me before I discover them ... damn them.
  • by Anthy ( 530642 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:53AM (#3129500)
    If anyone is interested, here is what the book "Thunder from the East" by two winners of the Pulitzer prize wrote about Zhang He's fleet: "Between 1405 and 1433 Zheng He commanded seven major expeditions, involving the largest navel fleet that the world would see for the next five centuries. Not until World War I did the West mount anything comparable. Chinese records show that Zheng He's fleet included 28 000 sailors on 300 ships, the longest of which were 400 feet long. By comparison, Columbus in 1492 had 90 sailors on 3 ships, the biggest of which was 85 feet long. Zheng He's ships also had design elements such as balanced rudders and watertight bulwark compartments that would not be introduced in Europe for another 350 years. The ships sailed as far as East Africa and could have gone around the globe. It is difficult to conceive of their magnificence, for each of the grandest ships-the "treasure ships"-had nine masts,huge red silk sails, 24 bronze cannon, carved wooden animal heads, and painted sides with large "eyes" in front to see the ocean ahead. The treasure ships had luxury cabins with balconies for the top officers and for foreign princes who would be brought home, and these ships were backed by specialized vessels including horse-carriers, troop transports, cargo ships, two kinds of warships, and water tankers carrying drinking water. The crews included 10 translatrors, 5 astronomers, 180 doctors and pharmacologists to treat the sick and gather foreign herbs, and even 2 protocol experts to ensure that the Chinese treated foreigners with just the proper degree of respect. The sophistication of the fleet underscores how far the East used to be ahead of the West. In a broader sense, it indicates the stakes for the entire world as Asia struggles to get back to its feet. The present situation-with Asia making up a minor part of world's economy-is unusual in historical terms. For the great majority of the last few thousand years, Asia has been far wealthier and more advanced and cosmopolitan than any place in Europe. Several ancient Chinese cities had populations of more than one million at their peak, and by some accounts the Tang Dynasty capital of Changan had almost two million taxable residents in the later part of the first millenium. In contrast, as late as 1500 the largest city in Europe was probably Naples, with a total population of 150 000. So ancient Asia was the longtime champion of commerce and technology, and one of the central questions is whether it is now ready to recover a part of what it lost. ..... Chinese records show that Zheng He's fleet reached the Kenyan ports of Malindi and Mombasa. Zheng He knew about Europe from Arab traders, and he could have continued around the Cape of Good Hope and established direct trade with Europe. But Europe was a backwards region with nothing to offer, as the Chinese saw it. China wanted ivory, medicine, spices, exotic woods, even samples of African wildlife, but it had little interest in European products like wool, beads or wine. So China turned up their noses at Europe."
  • by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @07:56AM (#3129502) Homepage Journal
    First Post! (Score: 1, Interesting)
    by Leif Ericson in 1001 (http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/07343. html [encyclopedia.com])

    All your women and chattels are belong to us!

    yesssss (Score: 0)
    by Zheng He in 1420 (http://members.tripod.com/khleo/chengho.ht m [tripod.com])

    too slow to catch me, bitches!
    Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? ;)

    Frosty Piss! (Score: -1, overrated)
    by Christopher Columbus in 1492 (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/ modeng/public/BroTrue.html [virginia.edu])

    I claim this first post in the name of exploring trolls everywhere!

    First (Score: -1, redundant)
    by Amerigo Vespucci in 1497 (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15384b.htm [newadvent.org])

    suck my cock, Columbus. you're mother goes down on me reel good!

  • by anpe ( 217106 )
    Strangely enough, Americans are still spy^H^Hexploring China nowadays :-)
  • by epsalon ( 518482 ) <slash@alon.wox.org> on Friday March 08, 2002 @08:04AM (#3129510) Homepage Journal
    Anybody else read that as "circumvented the world"?
    We all know the chinese are real good at that... Why else do they have their own DVD zone?
  • That's okay (Score:2, Funny)

    by billcopc ( 196330 )
    I don't mind, the Chinese can have USA, as long as they don't 'invade' Canada, else we'll have to unleash an army of Great Beavers upon them.
  • So far that's what we've got.

    Apparantly the world is still waiting on the extraordinary evidence (and that would be why 85 percent of those Royal Geographic Society people are planning to show up).

    This guy is talking about THOUSAND FOOT WOODEN SHIPS. This would have to be a first, and beat the largest known rival [schoonerman.com] almost 3fold. That alone is making me think "this guy is 3 weeks early."
  • And although Captain James Cook was credited with discovering Australia for the British Empire in 1770, the Chinese had mapped the island continent 337 years earlier.

    Actually, the Egyptians discovered [crystalinks.com] New South Wales between 1779 and 2748 BC. Hieroglyphic carvings in Hunter Valley, 100 km north of Sydney, relate how Djes-eb, one of the sons of the Pharaoh Ra Djedef, died from a snake bite.

    Australia also appears on the map of Eratosthenes [henry-davis.com], compiled in 194 BC. This Erasthosthenes was the same person who devised the famous method of calculating prime numbers, still used as a benchmark today.

    • by ArsSineArtificio ( 150115 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @08:41AM (#3129590) Homepage
      Where does Australia appear on that map of Eratosthenes? All I see is Taprobane, and that is the ancient name for Sri Lanka.

    • The boat that was found under the pyramid in Giza was only slightly smaller than the Mayflower. While it wasn't built for ocean voyages, it does seem to be built stronger than the repoduction of the Mayflower I saw.

      A common picture in tombs have a picture of the deceased holding a knife to the neck of an Indian or Ethiopian. There are reports that they knew of at least four other races 3000 years ago. There are almost no detailed drawings of ships or maps. There are also reports that the Egypteans didn't go far in their ships but hired crews from other areas. Maybe they had some superstition about going too far from home.

      Some of the survey maps from 3000 to 5000 years ago have areas that are very accurate. As in better than the ones done in the 1800's by the French and require round earth calculations. There is an map of the entire coast of Africa in the British Museum so someone was going long distances in boats and getting back. I'm not sure the ones that got to Australia ever got back since a long boat at that time had a high risk of being a one way trip to fish food.
  • Uhhh....... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cranial Dome ( 28458 )
    .....it still amazes me that so-called educated people still dispute who "discovered" lands already populated by humans for THOUSANDS of years -- as if their existence and lives don't "count" for anything.

    ...all those formerly pristine frontiers just quietly awaiting their future deforestation, mass flora/fauna species extinction, genocide, colonialism, and natural disaster events.

    Whew -- on second thought, I guess "America" is lucky all those folks were "racing" to discover it. Those natives sure weren't doing much with it. If not for that race, it would still be an unspoiled, underpopulated, wild, undeveloped, unpolluted, useless area. Only lately has it begun to realize it's full potential!
  • by dinotrac ( 18304 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @08:28AM (#3129559) Journal
    Can that really be true?
    On nine sails?

    The freakin' Titanic was only 900 feet long and needed 31,000 steam-driven shaft horsepower just to get halfway across.

    Thousand foot wooden ships with a single sail every hundred feet or so were either a remarkable engineering accomplishment or a mariner's nightmare.

    • by danny ( 2658 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @09:24AM (#3129714) Homepage
      A good book for those interested in Chinese nautical technology is the third volume of the abridgement of Needham's Science and Civilisation in China [dannyreviews.com]. That looks at the Chinese invention of the compass as well as shipbuilding and the great voyages of exploration.

      Here is one quote relevant to your question:

      ... in 1962 an actual rudder-post of one of Cheng Ho's treasure-ships was discovered... This great timber is 11 metres long ... Using accepted formulae, the approximate length of the ship on which it has been used comes out between 146 metres and 163 metres depending on different assumptions about the draught of the vessel.
      Even 163 metres is only 530 feet, of course, but it shows that 1000 feet isn't that unbelieveable.


      • by markmoss ( 301064 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @11:56AM (#3130382)
        This makes me suspect that the accepted formulae may be a bit off when it comes to these ships. I am not a naval architect, but I find the idea of 500+ foot wooden ocean-going ships quite dubious from a strength of materials standpoint. The problem is, the ocean has very big waves; even an aircraft carrier has times when one big wave is holding it up in the middle with both ends out of water, and this will alternate with both ends in waves and the middle hanging. Wooden structures just don't scale up in strength well, and I don't think the Chinese managed to build better than the best 19th century shipyards. Find the whole keel, and I'll believe it -- but if it's strong enough, I would think it was so thick and heavy as to make the ship unusable for cargo and too expensive to ever be built except by imperial decree. Written records would have to be carefully evaluated, to make sure that neither errors of measuring units nor poetic license had exaggerated the size.
  • actually settlers, drifting in small boats on the currents of the ocean, have probably landed all along Americas west coast. The Nowegian guy Thor Heierdal proved this when he built the Contiki and the other boat (I forgot it's name) from material growing in the ilands in the Indonesian archipel and used this to sail across the Pacific from the Indonesian archipel. It took him two tries, but he got as far as Easter Iland. this is of course just one of the many way's in which people reached the worlds remote continents, next to crossing the Bering street (the Inuit way) and crossing the atlantic from Ysland (the Viking way)
    • Wrong direction :)

      Take a look at the homepage of the Kon-Tiki museum in Oslo [kon-tiki.no].

      Heyerdahl (who btw. now in his eigthies are still active digging up a historic settlement in Russia I believe, and overseeing excavations of pyramids on Sicily, the Canary islands and South America), sailed from Peru in 1947 to Raroia in Polynesia to prove that settlements in the South Pacific could have originated with explorers from South America.

      Btw. The movie about Kon-Tiki won an Oscar for best documentary in 1950 I believe.

      What you might be thinking about was Ra I and Ra II from 1969, where he tried to prove that South America may have been populated by boat from Africa, since South America is within reach of Morocco by Papyrus boats built after ancient Egyptian design. Ra I almost reached Barbados, and Ra II succeeded.

      He also did a fourth voyage on Tigris, a boat built to show that there could have been cultural exchange historically between the old cultures of Mesopotamia, the Indus valley and Egypt via the see. The voyage wasn't completed because of the Iran/Iraq war.

      You're right in linking Heyerdahl to the Easter Island, though, as he did lead an expedition there as well, trying among other things to link his theories of expeditions from South America closer to findings on Easter Island.

      Central for Heyerdahl is that he believes that there has been much wider cultural exchanges between ancient cultures than what are known today, and that many cultures had much more extensive sea faring experience than many believe.

  • by Paul Lamere ( 21149 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @08:58AM (#3129618) Homepage Journal
    An excellent book that discusses why some civilizations (particulary european) dominate others ... a good summary
    is here [garretwilson.com]
  • What exactly is "discovering"? There were already people living there when Columbus or Chinese or whatever race "discovered" America. Do historians consider those native residents animals or what?
    • That, I assume, is why the headline read 'discovered America' (notice the quotes?). They could of course have said "became the first explorer from a major seafaring nation to return and provide written documentation or maps of the exploration of land unknown to those nations", or something like that. But even though you may manage to get more precise, it's hardly a practical way to deal with it.
  • The indeginous native americans who were living here the whole time you dolts.
  • yeah, but the Chinese weren't smart enough to loot & pillage the natives and settle the damn place.
  • Who do tou think Guatemala was named after?

    Gautama Buddha, for one, after some other chinese explorers went down the western American coast, and settled (in Guatemala) for a little while, at least 500 years before Christofo Colombari.

  • Does this mean we will now be celebrating "Admiral Zheng He Day" instead of "Columbus Day"? I can hardly wait to crack out the firecrackers and paper dragon!
  • Why my Kung Pao chicken looks like it's older than my grandmother...
  • Chinese yes, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrtransistor ( 565190 ) on Friday March 08, 2002 @11:18AM (#3130202)
    Before I add my comments, let me just say that I have been studying archaeology for over 6 years, so I feel as if I am qualified to say a little bit about the facts behind this issue and some of the more ridiculous comments I've seen posted about it.

    1st, it is well known that multiple cultures "discovered" what has come to be known as America before Columbus did in 1492. First and foremost by far, of course, were the ancestors of the native peoples of America, who appear to have arrived in several waves of migration via the Alaskan land bridge and possibly via maritime travel from Polynesia. There are arguments about exactly how old the earliest sites (including Monte Verdi in South America, and Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania) are, but most scholars accept them as being at least 10,000 years old and perhaps as old as 25,000 years. This beats anyone else by a long shot.

    After this migration, however, the ONLY incontrovertible archaeological evidence we have for precolumbian contact comes from Viking Sites of around 1000 AD, including L'Anse Aux Meadows, which I believe is in Newfoundland.

    The only other group that has any kind of solid archaeological claim to precolumbian discovery is the Chinese. Their presence seems to be attested by anchor stones found off the coast of California which closely match those from Chinese ship types which existed before the era of Columbus. There is, however, NO secure precolumbian artifactual evidence from the Chinese. This one's really a tossup, so I'd like to see what Menzies has to say.

    Now when it comes to all of these other claims - Egyptians, Subsaharan Africans, Phonecians, Welsh, etc. etc., what we're seeing is a lot of bad scholarship. Most of this can be traced to 19th century racist hyperdiffusional accounts which attempted to explain how monumental architecture and such could have been produced by such "primitive" (or in some accounts sub-human) people as the Native Americans. Most of these centered around the Egyptians, mainly due to superficial similarities between Egyptian Pyramids and Mesoamerican "pyramid" platforms, which in actuality are designed and built in entirely different ways. Furthermore, neither the Egyptians, nor even the Phonecians, who are often supposed to have ferried the Egyptians across the Atlantic, possessed the kind of ship technology which would make regular oceanic voyaging possible. These were unreinforced, open-decked, square-rigged boats with no navigational instruments. We're not talking Spanish Naos or Chinese Junks (or even Viking boats) here.

    The rest of the so-called evidence rests on overinterpretation of existing evidence (Olmec heads as evidence of African Contact, St. Brendan's Chronicles as an actual account - yeah, they just ran into Judas Iscariot in Massachussetts), proven hoaxes (Cuneiform tablets in Tennessee), or the psychotic ramblings of UFO cultists like Zecharia Sitchin.

    Anyway, despite my little tirade, I don't want to rule out that other civilizations couldhave made it to the Americas. There is just no evidence. So here is how it stands on Precolumbian contact:

    North Asians : Yes Vikings : Yes Chinese : Chances are pretty good Egyptians, Phonecians, Africans, Welsh : Highly Doubtful Everyone Else : Who the hell knows?

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky