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Could a rusty coin re-write Chinese-African history?
BBC ^ | 18 Oct 2010 | Peter Greste

Posted on 10/18/2010 11:30:24 AM PDT by Palter

It is not much to look at - a small pitted brass coin with a square hole in the centre-but this relatively innocuous piece of metal is revolutionising our understanding of early East African history, and recasting China's more contemporary role in the region.

A joint team of Kenyan and Chinese archaeologists found the 15th Century Chinese coin in Mambrui-a tiny, nondescript village just north of Malindi on Kenya's north coast.

In barely distinguishable relief, the team leader Professor Qin Dashu from Peking University's archaeology department, read out the inscription: "Yongle Tongbao" - the name of the reign that minted the coin some time between 1403 and 1424.

"These coins were carried only by envoys of the emperor, Chengzu," Prof Qin said.

"We know that smugglers would often take them and melt them down to make other brass implements, but it is more likely that this came here with someone who gave it as a gift from the emperor."

And that poses the question that has excited both historians and politicians: How did a coin from the early 1400s get to East Africa, almost 100 years before the first Europeans reached the region?

When China ruled the seas

The answer seems to be with Zheng He, also known as Cheng Ho - a legendary Chinese admiral who, the stories say, led a vast fleet of between 200 and 300 ships across the Indian Ocean in 1418.

Until recently, there have only been folk tales and insubstantial hints at how far Zheng He might have sailed.

Then, a few years ago, fishermen off the northern Kenyan port town of Lamu hauled up 15th Century Chinese vases in their nets, and the Chinese authorities ran DNA tests on a number of villagers who claimed Chinese ancestry.


(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...


TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: 1421; africa; chengho; china; coin; coins; emperoryongle; epigraphyandlanguage; gavinmenzies; godsgravesglyphs; kenya; malindi; mambrui; mingdynasty; yongletongbao; zhenghe

1 posted on 10/18/2010 11:30:30 AM PDT by Palter
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To: SunkenCiv
Zheng He, etc. ping. Shrug, my bias, is getting in the way of comment. Independent verification, etc.
2 posted on 10/18/2010 11:32:10 AM PDT by Palter (If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it. ~ Mark Twain)
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To: Palter

Does this mean that Obummer is really Chinese?


3 posted on 10/18/2010 11:35:35 AM PDT by bunkerhill7
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To: Palter

Nitpicky point, but if it’s made of brass, how can it be “rusty”?

Anywise, how could Chinese coins reach West Africa that early? By trade, that’s how. Chinese coins used in East Africa, as people use them in further trade, they make their way west. While I have no qualms against Zheng He (except that’s he’s been claimed, at one point or another, to have discovered everything except methane oceans of Europa), this does not necessarily prove that he, or any other Chinese fleet, was there.


4 posted on 10/18/2010 11:36:21 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (is a Jim DeMint Republican. You might say he's a funDeMintalist conservative.)
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To: Palter

Oh, my bad. I thought the article had said “West” Africa...


5 posted on 10/18/2010 11:37:15 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (is a Jim DeMint Republican. You might say he's a funDeMintalist conservative.)
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To: Palter

Soon the Chinese will claim to have been the first in North America.


6 posted on 10/18/2010 11:39:25 AM PDT by ReneeLynn (Socialism is SO yesterday. Fascism, it*s the new black. Mmm Mmm Mmm.)
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To: Palter
Admiral He is also known as Sinbad ~ in the West.

The Treasure Fleet is also known historically.

The Ming didn't maintain the fleet in China however. Instead, they built an overseas base at Penang (now an island off the coast of the Malaysian state of the same name).

The British later took over Penang from the local Sultan on the mainland and used it as a fortress protecting the Straits of Malacca for many years. (NOTE: It's at one end, more or less, and Singapore is at the other end).

The Treasure Fleet's trip to Africa resulted in the carriage of some giraffes and other distinctly African animals to the Chinese emperor.)

For a number of not very good reasons the Ming underwent a sudden change of heart, withdrew the Treasure Fleet, shut down its operations, and closed their coastline.

With that out of the way Europeans moved into the South Asian power vacuum and took over intercoastal trade ~

I would presume there's no doubt that the Chinese did this.

7 posted on 10/18/2010 11:39:35 AM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: Palter

I don’t doubt that the coin was found, but so what?


8 posted on 10/18/2010 11:43:41 AM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: ReneeLynn
Soon the Chinese will claim to have been the first in North America.

Native Americans are generally considered to be "asian".

9 posted on 10/18/2010 11:44:14 AM PDT by 3niner (When Obama succeeds, America fails.)
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To: ReneeLynn
Regarding "first in America", there's this interesting stone at the base of the Cahokia mound ~ only it's inside buried under tons and tons of earth.

All things considered that stone would have been set at about the time the Treasure Fleet was drifting about.

Obviously one of those very large Chinese ships would not have made it up the Mississippi, but they did have smaller boats with them and carried all the technology they needed to make more of them no matter where they traveled.

Regarding leaving behind some DNA, that'd been fairly invisible in the local North American Indian populations of the time since, for the most part, they and the Chinese shared a common ancestry.

10 posted on 10/18/2010 11:45:25 AM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: Palter
"A joint team of Kenyan and Chinese archaeologists found the 15th Century Chinese coin"

Would an Indian archaeologist have found an Indian coin, and would a Japanese archaeologist have found a Japanese coin?

11 posted on 10/18/2010 11:50:33 AM PDT by I am Richard Brandon
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To: muawiyah

So, absolutely no proof it’s Chinese. I swear, they remind me of Chekov on Star Trek.


12 posted on 10/18/2010 11:50:47 AM PDT by ReneeLynn (Socialism is SO yesterday. Fascism, it*s the new black. Mmm Mmm Mmm.)
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To: 3niner

Koreans are asian, but they’re not Chinese.


13 posted on 10/18/2010 11:52:24 AM PDT by ReneeLynn (Socialism is SO yesterday. Fascism, it*s the new black. Mmm Mmm Mmm.)
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To: Palter

Rumors? I thought it was fairly well accepted that Cheng Ho made it to the West coast of Africa. Sounds like someone is trying to turn a standard story (they found a coin from the voyage) into something sensational.

Having said that, the story of his voyage and the size of the fleet and ships themselves are sensational.


14 posted on 10/18/2010 11:53:24 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard
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To: ReneeLynn

Uh, hello?

american indians came from siberia/mongolia...THEY’RE CHINESE


15 posted on 10/18/2010 11:59:53 AM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
When I was very young I used to play with the items in one of my great grandfather's knick knack boxes. There were large South Pacific shells in there, Clovis points in all kinds of sizes (actually common as dirt in that area), and rectangular stone Chinese coins with round holes in them.

OK, not what these guys found ~ round coins with square holes but you can't have everything.

16 posted on 10/18/2010 12:01:42 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: ReneeLynn
"Soon the Chinese will claim to have been the first in North America."

That notion was being floated at least as far back as 2004.

17 posted on 10/18/2010 12:04:24 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: bunkerhill7

No. I think it means that the Chinese are all Obama’s. Remember, all things come from Obama.


18 posted on 10/18/2010 12:10:41 PM PDT by Gator113 (Beauty will devour the Beast in 2012. Kill "Obamamosque"@ Ground Zero)
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To: mamelukesabre

I think the Mongols would disagree with you that they are Chinese.


19 posted on 10/18/2010 12:16:24 PM PDT by ReneeLynn (Socialism is SO yesterday. Fascism, it*s the new black. Mmm Mmm Mmm.)
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To: Joe 6-pack

I can recall an article from American Heritage in the mid 1960s that discussed the possibility. There are a number of language and cultural cognates between Mayan and Chinese peoples. There is also the story in the 7th century Book of Liang by Yao Silian, about Hwui Shen, a Buddhist monk who traveled to Fusang (America?). This would place him in the Americas toward the end of the classical Mayan period, perhaps when Chinese concepts would be most influential. Interesting stuff.


20 posted on 10/18/2010 12:45:51 PM PDT by stormer
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To: I am Richard Brandon

Re read that. The Kenyans would have found some “joints” ~ the stuff grows wild ya’ know.


21 posted on 10/18/2010 12:48:14 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: ReneeLynn

Koreans and Chinese are genetically identical. The Korean language is an import from Northern and Western Asia.


22 posted on 10/18/2010 12:49:33 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: ReneeLynn

So would the japanese and the koreans. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are all chinese...ish


23 posted on 10/18/2010 12:50:40 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: SunkenCiv

ping


24 posted on 10/18/2010 1:01:01 PM PDT by BBell
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To: ReneeLynn
Soon the Chinese will claim to have been the first in North America.

_________________________________________

They were, over the Bering Land Bridge thousands of years ago. Ever doubt it just go visit Peru.

25 posted on 10/18/2010 1:08:57 PM PDT by wtc911 ("How you gonna get down that hill?")
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To: stormer; Joe 6-pack
There are several different Siberian and East Asian populations represented among American Indians.
26 posted on 10/18/2010 1:17:42 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: muawiyah
"There are several different Siberian and East Asian populations represented among American Indians."

A few Sicilians, too...


27 posted on 10/18/2010 1:28:13 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Palter; BBell; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ..

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Thanks Palter and BBell.
"Yongle Tongbao" -- the name of the reign that minted the coin some time between 1403 and 1424.
Isn't Yongle Tongbao quarterback for the Denver Broncos?

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
 

· History topic · history keyword · archaeology keyword · paleontology keyword ·
· Science topic · science keyword · Books/Literature topic · pages keyword ·


28 posted on 10/18/2010 3:35:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: bunkerhill7

That would explain it all nicely...


29 posted on 10/18/2010 3:38:53 PM PDT by americanophile (November can't come fast enough....)
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To: Palter

The 1400s AD? Laughable. That was modern history for the Europeans. The Byzantines were all over East Africa long before that. Dittoes others.


30 posted on 10/18/2010 4:59:17 PM PDT by eleni121 (http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/memoryof.htm)
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To: muawiyah

I had a round, brass Chinese coin with a square hole when I was a child. I have no idea where it is now, but it could be one of my knick knack boxes. I also have no idea where my parents, or grandparents, got it. It was just lying around the house when I was a kid, and they let me have it.


31 posted on 10/18/2010 5:38:11 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic
In my quite extensive research into the old square coins I discovered that it was common for buttons to be imported from China ~ AFTER they'd been carefully covered with padding and/or cloth. Larger coat buttons frequently had a Chinese copper or bronze coin in the middle. They'd push a loop through the opening so the button could be sewn to the coat.

More recently Chinese families contributed old family crest rings to the national treasury to help defeat the Japanese invaders.

Along the way many crates of these things ended up in the United States in the hands of a company called BEST (not Best Buy, but BEST).

They sold these rings as guaranteed old Chinese silver rings. I checked out several hundred of them and determined that the greater number were actually Japanese family MON rings. (A mon is usually thought of as a family crest ~ used as a large design pattern on kimono or hapi coats, or anything you want)

32 posted on 10/18/2010 5:46:34 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: muawiyah

I don’t know where this coin originated, or how it was connected to our family. It was just lying around in a drawer and was given to me as a child for my MEAGER foreign coin collection. My grandmother moved to San Francisco as an 18 year old in 1906 (same year as the great earthquake) and it may have been something she picked up there. She was a great saver of odds and ends. I remember she used to harague me about washing my hands after touching money because, “you never know where it has been.”

She often told me a story about when she first came to SF that she saw a “Chinaman with a long braid down his back and long, curving fingernails take a coin out of his ear to pay for his fare on the streetcar.” She’d follow up with a lecture about library books and doorknobs.


33 posted on 10/18/2010 6:06:48 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

In my short lived part time job not long ago we had lots of young kids ( 7-16) come into the shop. These were kids who had interest in history, coins, science and so on. One of my favorite subjects to clue them in on for study was the Chinese treasure fleet.

Most of the kids were regulars and you should have seen how excited they were the next time they visited. Being a history geek and discovering something you’ve never studied before is such a joy.


34 posted on 10/18/2010 6:49:28 PM PDT by warsaw44
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To: Joe 6-pack
That's a pretty decent brief at that ref. There's also evidence that the Chinese made some serious globe trotting events back circa 1865 BC.

That was another one of those "high spots" just before a serious decline. China has had several flood situations over the last 4,000 years that simply stopped civilization in its tracks, so we can imagine all sorts of advances being wiped out without a trace.

35 posted on 10/18/2010 8:20:20 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: muawiyah

Korean is an Altaic-Ural language family.


36 posted on 10/18/2010 8:41:33 PM PDT by Ptarmigan (God Hates Bunnies.)
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To: Ptarmigan
All Turcic languages fall into that group.

Korean, Japanese, all sorts of languages all over Siberia, Eastern Russia, Northern China, Tibet, Central Asia, etc.

37 posted on 10/18/2010 8:45:26 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: Palter

I’ll say it:

IT’S PROBABLY A FAKE.

China is hugely active in counterfeiting coins. Lots of them on fleabay. Lots.

If it’s a coin, and it advances any Chinese agenda.

It’s probably a fake.


38 posted on 10/18/2010 8:47:45 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network (GOP establishment are dinosaurs. Tea Party is a great big asteroid...)
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To: wtc911
The guys in Peru probably sailed directly from Western Japan. There's a group of folks in japan that have an inherited virus for a type of leukemia. The same virus is found in bones in an area of Peru where Japanese style pottery has been found.

No one else has the virus. It's peculiar to the two areas ~ Japan and Peru.

The Zuni are demonstrably decendants of Zen practitioners who arrived in the Sierras in the 1300s.

A recent burial site uncovered in Costa Rica is clearly Japanese/Chinese and not American Indian. it's dated to the 1200s (we just had a news article on that).

Most Japanese were illiterate until modern times, and no writing system is known to have existed in Japan until the late 6th century (at the earliest).

Japanese were able to catch currents and winds and sail to the Americas virtually at will for thousands of years and did so. They just couldn't get back! It's a one way trip.

So, where did the MesoAmerican writing systems come from? It's a just a guess on my part, but they probably came overland through Alaska from the Aleutians from Kamchatka about 5,000 years ago with the Athabaskans.

American Indian sign language is essentially the same as the precursors to the Shang Dynasty bones, and if you know the sign language, or the bone language, you can read either. Indians wandering about with a sign language could readily reproduce it in stone, or paint, or whathave you. It's a pretty obvious application. I think the nomads had a hard time hauling around the stones though.

39 posted on 10/18/2010 8:54:23 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: Palter; SunkenCiv

the Chinese authorities ran DNA tests on a number of villagers who claimed Chinese ancestry. “

I would imagine the ladies of the East Africcan coasts would have been glad to see some guys sail in with some coins in their chests.

“Been at sea long, sailor? Me give you good time.”


40 posted on 10/18/2010 9:50:33 PM PDT by wildbill (You're just jealous because the Voices talk only to me.)
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To: wildbill

This new move by the Chinese to establish an imaginary past isn’t as bad as the phony histories spewed out of the various afrocentric and muzzie nationalist imaginations, but it’s still pretty bad. The events are only from about 500 years ago, and yet there was never the slightest mention of it — and the Age of Sail / Age of Discovery in Europe had already begun before the mid-15th c. All that’s been found so far is one rusty coin — not any sign of a settlement, a shipwreck, and no uncontestable folklore.


41 posted on 10/19/2010 12:53:56 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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Newest to oldest, the keywords used are "1421" and "gavinmenzies":
42 posted on 10/19/2010 1:01:36 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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43 posted on 10/19/2010 2:16:20 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: SunkenCiv
So, Yongle Tongbao has been masquerading as Kyle Orton? Well, that would explain a few things . . . .


44 posted on 10/21/2010 4:30:18 PM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: colorado tanker
Tae-Bo

45 posted on 10/21/2010 6:29:08 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: SunkenCiv
Wow, you sure got me on that one. Tae Bo = Tebow. Outstanding!

That said, I've always thought Orton looked more China or whatever than Indiana. Mork calling . . . .

46 posted on 10/22/2010 11:45:27 AM PDT by colorado tanker
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