Skip to comments.Were Chinese here first? (china; menzies; 1421)
Posted on 05/16/2005 3:35:42 AM PDT by SteveH
Were Chinese here first?
Shannon Brennan / firstname.lastname@example.org
May 15, 2005
Charlotte Rees is heiress to evidence that could turn world history upside down - if she can corroborate it.
She and her six siblings inherited maps from their father, a third-generation missionary born in China, that she says may show the Chinese had discovered America - and the rest of the world - as early as 2200 B.C.
Im ready for opposition, said Rees, who lives in Forest. Even when Columbus was saying the world was round, he had opposition.
Rees, 59, will propound her theory Monday at a symposium at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Zheng He, an early Chinese explorer.
In addition to the maps, which depict lands that she argues could be North and South America, Rees says there is other evidence of a Chinese presence more than 3,700 years before Columbus set foot here.
Rees maps are actually Korean and date to the 16th century, but she believes they are replicas of Chinese maps dating to 2200 B.C.
John Hebert, chief of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, said the library has similar maps in its possession.
Shes still trying to find out more completely what she has, Hebert said. Her interpretations beyond that are her business.
Hebert said theres no doubt other seafaring explorers beat Columbus to this continent. Theres documented proof that the Vikings were in Labrador and Newfoundland about 1000 A.D. Hebert said once there is unquestionable proof that history needs rewriting, hes all for it.
Thats the stimulating thing about history, he said.
Rees is hardly the first to propose that the Chinese predated Columbus on American soil. In 2002, retired British Royal Navy Capt. Gavin Menzies published a controversial book titled, 1421: The Year China Discovered America.
Menzies has many detractors, including Hebert, who said the book represents fairly shoddy research.
Nonetheless, Menzies is one of the participants in the Library of Congress symposium. Rees met Menzies last year after contacting him about her maps and research. She said she told him, Youre putting too much history in too short of a time.
In 1421, for example, the Chinese already had five-story sailing vessels. Rees argues they must have started with much smaller vessels long before.
Rees said Menzies has been both receptive to her work and helpful with her efforts to get a publisher, and acknowledges he might not have the complete story.
Menzies told me he didnt think theres a chance in a million my father is wrong, she said.
Contacted by e-mail, Menzies said he does believe the maps show that the Chinese knew of the whole world by 2200 B.C.
Mrs. Rees contacted me in early 2003 shortly after my book was published, Menzies wrote. At the time I was under heavy attack by critics and her fathers maps were an unwelcome distraction.
Since then, however, Menzies said, he has been overwhelmed with e-mails to his Web site, which made him realize he had oversimplified how America was populated by East Asians who came by sea.
The Harris collection of maps will, in the long run, cause an even more fundamental and agonizing (sic) reappraisal of American history than my book has, he wrote.
Rees said her purpose is to further the work of her father, who bought the books of maps in 1972 at an antique store in Seoul, South Korea.
Hendon Harris, a third-generation missionary, was born in China in 1916. He later became a Baptist missionary himself. Rees spent several of her formative years in Taiwan.
Harris, who could read and speak Chinese, realized the maps in his collection matched descriptions in the Shan Hai Jing, the Classic of Mountains and Seas that describes early Chinese explorations by the first real Chinese emperor, Yu, in about 2200 B.C.
He sent teams out to the ends of the Earth, Rees said of Yu.
In 1975, Harris book, The Asiatic Fathers of America, was published in Taiwan. He claimed the Chinese discovered America between 2650 and 2200 B.C.
Harris died unexpectedly of a stroke in 1981 at age 64, and his book hadnt gotten much attention. In fact, one of Rees sisters didnt know what to do with 1,600 leftover copies, and she finally sold them for $1 apiece. Rees wishes they had them back. She recently found a copy on the Internet for $150. Word about Harris book and maps is getting out.
After Harris death, the maps ended up with Rees brother, Hendon, who kept them under his bed in California until 2003, when Rees decided it was time the family did something with them.
She and her husband, David, had retired in 2002, and she felt she finally had time to devote to her fathers work. Rees said any of her siblings would have been as well or better qualified to pursue her fathers work. But she was the one with the time.
I didnt realize the amount of time it would be either, she said, adding she has spent countless hours in the Forest Library, where she said she can order almost any book she needs from around the country.
The Harris maps went straight from California to the Library of Congress, where they will remain for the foreseeable future. Rees said they are too valuable for her to keep at home. The maps are not on public display, but PBS is planning to do a special on the symposium, Rees said.
Rees knows she will have a difficult job convincing the world that the Chinese were here by 2200 B.C. The Chinese themselves have long believed that Shan Hai Jing was largely mythical, Rees said, but they also acknowledge that myth and fact were often merged.
If it didnt contain mythology, it would be suspect, she said.
Rees has found support for her theory in the academic world - from Beijing to Wake Forest.
Cyclone Covey, professor emeritus of history at Wake Forest University, said if the maps are authenticated, they could prove what many, including himself, believe.
(The Chinese) were familiar with America and down to Central America at least, Covey said in a telephone interview. Charlotte realizes the Chinese were here before 1421.
Covey said the Shan Hai Jing provided incredible detail about geographic formations and distances.
Her fathers map seems to be a copy of the original that came with the Shan Hai Jing, Covey said.
There are some differences between the Shan Hai Jing and the Harris maps, which include writing in Korean and Japanese, he said, but those inscriptions were likely added to the maps later.
Those differences, however, are what Hebert said need to be thoroughly researched.
The Harris maps were written in classical Chinese, Rees said. A professor in Beijing has dated the maps to the Ming Dynasty, around the late 1500s. About 72 percent of the place names are the same as those in the Shan Hai Jing, she said.
Some of the descriptions dont seem mythical.
The maps show what Father believed was the Grand Canyon and Mt. McKinley, Rees said.
The maps indicate the Bright Chasm Mountains roughly where Arizona is now and the Measuring Skies Mountain in Alaska, she said.
Her maps and the Shan Hai Jing arent the only evidence of a Chinese presence in America, Rees said.
Chinese writing by Tong Fan Tso, in the third century B.C., describes a continent about 10,000 li or 3,300 miles wide, bounded by vast oceans, with huge trees. The Chinese called it Fu Sang, The Land of the East.
If these discoveries occurred, how did the Chinese lose track of them? Rees said China shut down not long after the voyages of Zheng He, the admiral who is the subject of the Library of Congress symposium.
The Chinese burned maps and made it a capital offense to go to sea, she said.
There are periods of time when people lose knowledge, Rees said, citing the Dark Ages as an example in Western history.
Zheng He was a Chinese explorer and major figure in the history of navigation, who undertook a series of expeditions between 1405 and 1433. With a fleet of 200 ships and a crew of 28,000 men, his voyages are considered the largest maritime expeditions in world history.
Hebert said there is no evidence that Zheng He made it to America, only to the Indian Ocean and the East African coast.
Whether Zheng He sailed to America, Rees points to evidence that one-quarter million Chinese went to sea about 1100 B.C. at the end of the Shang Dynasty, and most never came back. If you look at Olmec writing, some of the characters seem virtually identical to Chinese. She said she believes the Olmec - the ancient people of Mexico - were Chinese.
Rees has also found ancient descriptions of animals that sound like the opossum, coyote, peccary, armadillo and bald eagle - animals found only in America.
How could they have known all this if they werent here? Rees asked.
If Ms Rees thinks that the big deal about Columbus was that he thought the world was round, then she's clearly no scholar.
Everybody knew that in Columbus's time. He thought the radius of the earth was smaller than it is, and so was emboldened to go looking for China (and found Cuba, if I remember correctly)
Oh! No!..The ChiCOMs will claim North/South America as theirs, like they claim Taiwan. /s off.
Muslims discovered America !!!
Because Zheng He was a Muslim Enuch.
In 1975, Harris book, The Asiatic Fathers of America, was published in Taiwan. He claimed the Chinese discovered America between 2650 and 2200 B.C."
What balderdash! The difference between the Chinese and Viking "discoveries" of America and the Spanish was that the first two didn't stick around. The Spanish (and later English) did.
Probablity is that the Egyptians beat all of them to the "discovery" part of the equation.
Of course the Chinese discovered America. You need look no further than the San Francisco area to see remnants of the once great empire in America. Even the name of the colony, China Town, still bears witness to their early conquest of this continent.
I am convinced that there was a great deal more travel, exploration, and trade between early civilizations than we give them credit for. We all tend to think in terms of a Dark Ages European peasant family living in a hut, but it wasn't like that at all-- civilizations rose and fell with regularity. Periods like the peasants in the hut did occur, but there were other periods of a high degree of civilization, and we tend to foreget that.
There are periods of time when people lose knowledge, Rees said, citing the Dark Ages as an example in Western history.
Standard nonsense history from Rees concerning the history of the west.
However, its probably true the Chinese did come across the ocean, just as it is also likely that others like the Phoenicians did (how hard could it be if the Vikings made it in their primitive crafts?). There are too many good old maps pre-1500 showing the Americas, Antarctica, and Australia, as Charles Hapgood pointed out.
I bet they found people living here when they came ashore.
imho, one need not look back that far...
I agree. I even suspect that "some" of those civilizations were sufficiently old to have been around during the last Ice Age, and their sites are now well-submerged. I find the notion that there was at least one such in the East Indies/Malaysia area that is theorized to have been the source from which civilization spread from into Egypt and Mesopotamia, was well as lesser known examples further east--the diaspora having been initiated by the flooding of the home of the "core civilization" at the end of the last Ice Age. I think there are one or two articles here at FR that allude to this.
They are making that claim! But the vikings were here first.
Viking Activity in Missouri, Kansas City lies at the edge of the area that was once explored by Vikings who came down from the north, through Hudson Bay. At that time, the northern Midwest was much lower in elevation, probably close to sea level. The Vikings left evidence of their explorations when and where ever they tied up their long boats. Numerous Viking mooring stones have been discovered in Minnesota, Western Iowa, and as far south as Joplin Missouri. These are identical to Viking mooring stones that can be found along the Scandinavian and European coasts and inland rivers where the Vikings traveled and left their mark. Some of the Vikings left inscriptions chiseled in stone using runic writing, and even dated their visits to the second millennium of the "Year of our LORD." Since the ice sheets have receded and melted, the land of the upper Midwest has bounced back up, i.e., it has risen in elevation, so that it is no longer at sea level.
Beat me to it.
What's more the opposition to Columbus's underestimate of the earth's circumference, was based on classical estimates (done by one of the librarians of the Museum (a.k.a. the Library of Alexandria) ) which were only superceded in accuracy in the 20th century.
Why would those sites be submerged? The opposite is true. they would be on high and dry land now, because as evidenced by the viking mooring rocks, the massive glacial ice sheet pressed the continent down. Much of our coastlines as we now know them were under water way back then. As the ice recedes, the continent rizes up. Tetonic plates 'float'.
Since the Chinese discovered America first, they now have a historical claim. America is no a renegade province that must accept rule from Beijin. To impose it's will, China will make long terms plans to hold American capital and displace local American manufacturing in otrder to make America dependent on the Chinese for imports America no longer produces. Wait, that's already happened.
Where did the Chinese come from? Weren't the Mongols there first? maybe the Chinese are actualy decendants of the Japanese, or a blend of Mongols and Japanese.