1421: The Year China Discovered America?

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This fascinating documentary examines the mystery surrounding the sailing exploits of the legendary Admiral Zheng and his 30 year command of a gigantic Ming fleet. The Chinese court burned all records of Admiral Zheng’s daring voyages and achievements, and unwittingly created a mystery that tantalizes the world 500 years later.

You’ve heard what the history books have to say about the discovery of America, but now prepare to have your entire perception of history forever altered with this remarkable release from PBS. Could it be that a fearless Chinese admiral actually discovered America nearly a century before Columbus made his historical landing at San Salvador? Travel back to the year 1421 and follow the legendary Admiral Zheng as he and his formidable Ming fleet travel far and wide to explore little-visited outposts at the behest of Chinese emperor Zhu Di.

Based on theories put forward by noted historian and best-seller Gavin Menzies, this thought-provoking take on conventional history proposes that it was Admiral Zheng who led European explorers to the West a whole 71 years after first setting foot on American soil.

On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen sailed from its base in China. The ships, huge junks nearly five hundred feet long and built from the finest teak, were under the command of Emperor Zhu Di's loyal eunuch admirals. Their mission was "to proceed all the way to the end of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas" and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony. Their journey would last more than two years and circle the globe.

When they returned in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships, now considered frivolous, were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in China's long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. Also concealed were how the Chinese colonized America before the Europeans and transplanted to America, Australia, New Zealand and South America the principal economic crops that have fed and clothed the world.

Now, in a landmark historical journey, Gavin Menzies, who spent fifteen years tracing the astonishing voyages of the Chinese fleet, shares the remarkable account of his discoveries and the incontrovertible evidence to support them. His compelling narrative pulls together ancient maps, precise navigational knowledge, astronomy and the surviving accounts of Chinese explorers and the later European navigators to prove that the Chinese had also discovered Antarctica, reached Australia three hundred and fifty years before Cook and solved the problem of longitude three hundred years ahead of the Europeans. 1421 describes the artifacts and inscribed stones left behind by the emperor's fleet, the evidence of wrecked junks along its route -- discovered in locations ranging from the middle of the Mississippi River to tributaries of the Amazon -- and the ornate votive offerings left by the Chinese sailors wherever they landed, in honor of Shao Lin, goddess of the sea.

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