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    Re: Zheng He steered by the stars?
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2002 Nov 28, 10:04 +1100

    "Trevor J. Kenchington" wrote:
    
    >  the recent claim that Zheng He and his men discovered
    > just about everywhere on the planet that remained to be discovered in
    > his day is not so much impossible as simply without foundation in the
    > historical record.
    
    Among the evidence offered: 'Wrecks, plants found in Australia by the first
    Europeans which had come from China, carved stones, kangaroos in the Chinese
    emporer's zoo, Chinese jade, figurines, ceramics, people who say the Chinese
    settled amongst them'.  Gavin Menzies also claims their visits were recorded ly
    local aboriginal people in cave drawings found near Sydney.
    
    Along the Australian coast are a number of wrecks that seem to pre-date European
    settlement. Perhaps the most famous (notorious?) is at Warrnambool in Victoria
    (between the mainland and Tasmania). Hidden beneath the beach sand, it is rarely
    uncovered. It is supposed to be made of mahogany, and has long been suspected of
    being the remains of a Portugese carvel. The Portugese also have an ancient map
    that shows the outline of Australia, turned on its side and compressed. The idea
    is that the compression is due to their problems with longitude, once expanded
    it looks accurate enough. Anyhow, Gavin Menzies claims this wreck and a number
    of others (Perth, Byron Bay) as being Chinese. Did the Chinese build boats of
    mahogany? My understanding is that they favoured teak.
    
    In any case, Menzies agrees that Chinese landings did not lead to permanent
    settlements - unlike those of Cook and Columbus. 'I think they sped up the
    discovery of Australia because they' (the Chinese) 'provided the basis of the
    charts which Cook used. He' (James Cook) 'was a fantastic seaman, an outstanding
    man, but he did not find Australia'.
    
    That much is certainly true, the historical record of the many misadventures
    along the way of the European discovery of Terra Australis could be, perhaps, a
    topic for another day. The story has a lot to do with navigation.
    
    
    

       
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