Skip to comments.Could a rusty coin re-write Chinese-African history?
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 ...
Does this mean that Obummer is really Chinese?
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.
Oh, my bad. I thought the article had said “West” Africa...
Soon the Chinese will claim to have been the first in North America.
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.
I don’t doubt that the coin was found, but so what?
Native Americans are generally considered to be "asian".
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.
Would an Indian archaeologist have found an Indian coin, and would a Japanese archaeologist have found a Japanese coin?
So, absolutely no proof it’s Chinese. I swear, they remind me of Chekov on Star Trek.
Koreans are asian, but they’re not Chinese.
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.
american indians came from siberia/mongolia...THEY’RE CHINESE
OK, not what these guys found ~ round coins with square holes but you can't have everything.
That notion was being floated at least as far back as 2004.
No. I think it means that the Chinese are all Obama’s. Remember, all things come from Obama.
I think the Mongols would disagree with you that they are Chinese.
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.
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