Most Outrageous Claims

Most outrageous claims by Mr. Menzies in "1421"

Geoff Wade


Claim

 Four eunuch admirals-Hong Bao, Zhou Man, Zhou Wen and Yang Qing --led fleets to the Americas, Australia, Greenland and the Antarctic during voyages between 1421 and 1423.

Fact
There are no Chinese or other texts which suggest in any way that these four eunuchs, or any other Ming commanders, traveled anywhere at all beyond Asia, the Middle East and the East coast of Africa. All other voyages derive solely from Mr. Menzies' imagination. Further, the currents, winds and dates Menzies cites in support would not have carried the ships anywhere near where he claims. In short, there is no archaeological, textual or archival material to support the Menzies thesis as set down in 1421. In this book Menzies intentionally distorts known materials and deliberately alters known facts in order to support his thesis.


Claim
Sailors and concubines from these fleets settled in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and islands across the Pacific. In evidence, he cites studies of "recent" inflow of "Chinese genes" and "East Asian DNA" into the Americas.

Fact
There is no evidence of Ming settlement sites in, or even Ming knowledge, of these places until the arrival of the Jesuits in China in the 16th century. The genetic evidence on which Menzies relies is provided by a company whose genetic tests have been labelled a "scam" by Stephen O'Brien, the US National Cancer Institute's laboratory chief.


Claim
There exists a range of wrecks of the ships from these voyages spread around the world, and these are proof of the voyages claimed by Menzies.

Fact
Not one wreck which can be linked with the eunuch voyages in the first 30 years of the 15th century (or indeed any Chinese wreck) has been identified outside of the Asian region.


Claim
The Ming voyagers built celestial observation platforms at 24 places across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Menzies names and provides coordinates for these platforms. (1421, p. 416/17, 457)

Fact
There is no textual or archaeological evidence to even begin to suggest that the Ming voyagers built observation platforms anywhere in the world. Again, their existence derives only from the fertile imagination of Mr. Menzies.


Claim
The Ming armadas left a range of other built structures around the world, particularly in Australasia and the Americas, including the Newport Round Tower, the Gympie pyramid and other structures and mines. They also left a ship's slipway made of stones on the Bimini islands in the Caribbean.

Fact
Not one of the structures Mr. Menzies cites has been shown to have any links with China. The Bimini "slipway", which is in any case parallel to the shore, has been shown to be a completely natural formation.


Claim
The Chinese "were aware that the earth was a globe and had divided it into 365 and a quarter degrees (the number of days in the year) of latitude and longitude." (1421, p. 449)

Fact
There is no evidence that during the early Ming, the Chinese had any knowledge of the earth as a globe and certainly none that they were aware of latitude and longitude.


Claim
The Ming voyagers surveyed South America, Antarctica, North America and the Atlantic as well as Australasia. "The whole world was accurately charted by 1428." (1421 p. 411)

Fact
There is no text or other evidence which suggests that the Ming voyagers went anywhere near these places and no Chinese maps which indicate any surveying of these places. Further, there are no contemporary Ming artifacts found in any of these regions.


Claim
A range of European maps show anomalies which can only be explained by accepting the Chinese voyages proposed by Mr. Menzies as having taken place

Fact
The cartographic anomalies which Mr. Menzies points to, real or imagined, can be explained through many avenues, the most likely being that Arab navigators, who had been traveling these waters for 600 years before the Chinese, had produced maps of areas they traveled to.


Claim
Mr. Menzies noted that the Venetian Niccolò da Conti was the crucial and only link between Chinese and European cartographers. Menzies claims that he participated in the voyages over several years and carried Chinese maps back to Europe. He notes that Da Conti "had spent years aboard a junk of the treasure fleet" and that "Chinese maps passed from Da Conti to Fra Mauro, and from him to Dom Pedro of Portugal and Prince Henry the Navigator" (1421, pp. 369, 84-87, 92-93)

Fact
Da Conti, who left us detailed accounts of his travels, recounts neither meeting any Ming envoy in Calicut, nor traveling on any Chinese ship for even a day, nor seeing or receiving any Chinese maps showing a new world. The utter and complete contempt for truth with which Menzies depicts these events is disheartening.


Claim
Mr. Menzies claims that a number of mylodons (a type of giant sloth) had been taken from South America to New Zealand and China by the Ming ships.

Fact
All available evidence suggests that the Mylodon has been extinct for several thousand years, which militates somewhat against the likely veracity of Mr. Menzies claims in this respect. But such sloppy research is found throughout the volume. He notes, for example, rubber trees in Malacca 450 years before they had been introduced from South America by the British etc etc ad nauseum.

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