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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gavin Menzies' 1434?

I know 1421 was trashed by historians and that it does have some serious gaps, but 1434 doesn't seem to have as many problems. Whether a Chinese fleet brought the brilliant 1313 Chinese book, the Nong Shu, or it came from some other route, amateur sleuth Gavin Menzies seems to provide compelling evidence that China was the source for a number of important inventions credited to Da Vinci and some other Italians. Many controversial but exciting ideas in this work - including the whole concept of pre-Columbian transoceanic contact with the Americas (the theme of 1421 which remains highly controversial). Any of you familiar with 1434? Thoughts?

My biases for the Chinese people make the premise of the book difficult to resist. How ironic that the nation often faulted for copying from the West may have been the source for many of the breakthrough inventions that fueled the rise of the Renaissance.

4 comments:

BruceC said...

I haven't read Gavin Menzies newest book, I did see it in the bookstore a couple of week ago. So much to read, so little time. But I wanted to say I have not heard that the Chinese nation was often faulted for copying from the West. To what are you referring?

China sees the 250 years from 1750 to 2000 as a glitch in history. For most of the last 2,500 years China has been the most advanced culture in the world. They are eager to regain that position.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, you admit that 1421 is dismissed by the historians and the researchers who know it, but give credence to 1434 just the same. If you wish to credit the Chinese with the Renaissance, don't look to China, but look instead to the Arab World.

Al-Andalus, Sicily, Damascus, Baghdad: These were centers of learning and trade. Through their translations we have Plato, Aristotle and the Greeks, Through their ingenuity we have modern mathematics. Yes, they took ideas from China at one end of their empire and linked them with Europe, but routine trade is far more likely and more impressive than Menzies foolish theories.

I would recommend the Ornament of the World, or other books on the Golden Age of Islam. I would be much more impressed with Menzies books if he bothered to learn Chinese and put forward reasonable theories instead of his mysterious Ghost Fleets of China, which have no record of ever existing in Chinese government records.

Mormanity said...

Saying 1434 "doesn't seem to have as many problems" is not exactly giving credence. I'm mostly asking for feedback here. The link between the Nong Shu and di Giorno may have come via Arab trade, as you mention, but the evidence he provides for a link of some kind seems compelling - though I recognize it may be misleading.

Anonymous said...

Anon, to say that the fleet did not exist is quite foolish and dogmatic, as there have been witness accounts in major ports along the trading route.

One possible reason why no wrecks were discovered is because it's incredibly difficult (maybe impossible) to find it! For example, how long did someone take to find the HUUUGE Titanic even though they roughly know the location that it sunk? 15 years? 20 years? Lets not talk about not knowing where any ships sunk.

Sometimes, it takes a little bit of open mind, not some dogmatic view that you keep holding.

I'll have to say that historians may want to dismiss a new theory that could threaten their years of work, and on which their PhD were based on. In one simple swipe, 30 years of toil would have been wiped off. Just like how easily and doggedly the church dismissed Galileo's theory that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way round.

Time will prove things... but in the meantime, have an open mind and look through things without inherent prejudices.