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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Books on the Chinese Exploration of America

I have a particular interest in pre-Columbian contact between Asia and the Americas, and I've written a blog post on the topic:

Secret Maps of the Ancient World

For those of you interested in Chinese exploration of the Americas before Columbus and before Zheng He, here is a list of books on the subject:

The Asiatic Fathers of America

Secret Maps of the Ancient World

Gods from the Far East

Columbus was Chinese

 The Island of Seven Cities: Where the Chinese Settled When They Discovered America

1421: The Year China Discovered America

1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

Who Discovered America? The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas

Nu Sun: Asian-American Voyages, 500 B.C.

Although not a book about Chinese exploration of the Americas, When China Ruled the Seas is an excellent book on Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet.

Interview with Gavin Menzies

The Forgotten History of the Asiatic Fathers of America

So there was an interesting segment on the Coast to Coast radio broadcast. Host George Noory interviewed Charlotte Harris Rees, author of the book The Secret Maps of the Ancient World. Her father, Hendon Harris Jr., wrote the 1972 book The Asiatic Fathers of America. Both assert that the ancient Chinese had traveled back and forth from China to the Americas since 2250 BC. Much of their evidence is based ancient Chinese records and on maps that they've procured as well as ancient Chinese maps kept in museums and private collections all over the world.

Rees and her father are not the only ones to claim that the Chinese made regular trips between China and America. Many other researchers from the fields of archaelogy, anthropology, genetics, history and linguistics have come to the conclusion that the Chinese established a physical presence and a cultural influence in the Americas, long before Zheng He sailed with his fleet in 1421. Aside from genetic similarities, there are cultural similarities between the ancient Chinese and Native American/Meso-American cultures in their language, pottery, crafts, architecture and religious practices. Take a look at the facial characteristics of these jade masks and figurines from the Olmec civilization:

Chinese junks and ships have been found all over the Americas and not just on the West Coast. The most bizarre instance was when a Chinese junk was found when Washington D.C. was being dredged of its swampland prior to its founding as the capital:

A Chinese junk was found by early settlers buried in Great Dismal Swamp (L A R Clark); This story, we have found out, appeared in Coronet Magazine, p. 34, January, 1945: "…When the government took over the Swamp and dredged some of the ditches, strange looking hulks of ships were found sunk in her marshes. One, a large Chinese craft, had to be cut through. Sunk in her quagmires are the skeletons of other ships that now belong to the ages – all bearing silent testimony that Old Dismal’s rule stretches far down the corridors of time…"

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In Search of... Chinese Explorers

As a kid I used to watch "In Search of," a show which explored alternative theories. This episode explores the voyages of another pre-Columbian explorer by the name of Hui Shen, who visited America in 499 A.D., long before Columbus, Zheng He or the Vikings.

If you're interested in the Chinese presence in pre-Columbian America, then an interesting book to read is Nu Sun by Gunnar Thompson:

If you're a fan of Gavin Menzies' books on Zheng He, then you'll find this book interesting. Zheng He is the most famous example of Chinese voyages to pre-Columbian America, but there were multiple Chinese explorers and voyages to the Americas prior to Zheng He.

This book examines evidence that the Chinese had set up a trading colony in Central America (where the Mayans arose) during 500 BC to 900 AD. The assertion is that it would have been quite easy for the Chinese to sail to the Americas, because the Pacific currents would have allowed them to sail to and from. When the Chinese arrived they met with the Olmecs and a confederation of proto-Mayan tribes. Because they arrived at a crucial period of cultural development, the Chinese colony influenced the Mayan culture.

Much of the evidence that Thompson points to is the striking similarities in numerous (13 to be exact) motifs found in both Mayan culture and Chinese culture at the same time. The book provides 150 illustrations comparing the similarities in design and religious symbols. For instance, we find the yin-yang symbol in both cultures.

Thompson doesn't delve too much into speculation, and he addresses counter arguments that the Mayan developed solely on their own or were influenced by other Old World cultures. Thompson points to other pieces of evidence that the Chinese were in the Americas (similar hieroglyphs, the sudden appearance of iron tools amidst stone age technology, the rapid rise of Mayan civilization). But since his expertise is in religious and cultural symbols, most of the evidence lies there. Because of this focus, I think this book would be an excellent complement to other books on pre-Columbian voyages to the Americas by the Chinese.

Chinese Sailed to America Before Columbus: More Secrets from the Harris Map Collection

Revisionist historian and author Charlotte Harris-Rees talks about her latest book, Chinese Sailed to America Before Columbus, the sequel to Secret Maps of the Ancient World. In this podcast segment, Charlotte guides us deeper into the map collection of Dr. Hendon M. Harris, Jr., tracing them back to a Chinese world map from 2000 BC depicting the continent we now know as North America. She discusses the implications these maps (known as Ch'onhado, or "map of all under heaven") hold for currently accepted world history in the West and explores the "bombshells" that support their authenticity -- leaving us to wonder what else China discovered first?

The Island of 7 Cities

"In the summer of 2003, architect Paul Chiasson decided to climb a mountain he had never explored on Cape Breton Island, where eight generations of his Acadian family had lived. One of the oldest points of exploration and settlement in the Americas, with a written history dating back to the first days of European discovery, Cape Breton is littered with remnants of old settlements. But that day Chiasson found a road that was unique. Well made and consistently wide, and at one time clearly bordered with stone walls, the road had been a major undertaking. But he could find no record of it. In the two years of detective work that followed, Chiasson systematically surveyed the history of Europeans in North America and came to a stunning conclusion: the ruins he had stumbled upon - an entire townsite on a mountaintop---did not belong to the Portuguese, the French, the English, or the Scots. And they predated John Cabot's 1497 "discovery" of the island.

"Using aerial and site photographs, maps and drawings, and his own expertise as an architect, Chiasson re-creates how he pieced together the clues to one of the world's great mysteries: a large Chinese colony existed and thrived on Canadian shores well before the European Age of Discovery. He addresses how the ruins had been previously overlooked or misunderstood, and how the colony was abandoned and forgotten, in China and in the New World. And he discovers the traces the colony left in the storytelling and culture of the Mi'kmaq, whose written language, clothing, technical knowledge, religious beliefs, and legends, he argues, expose deep cultural ties to China."

Weird or What?: Did the Chinese discover America?

The Chinese In America Documented