I was thumbing thru 〈A concise economic history of the world〉, (4ed,2002) by Rondo Cameron and Larry Neal. amazon I looked at the section “Non-Western Economies on the Eve of Western Expansion: East Asia”. From these pages, i learned about The Grand Canal, which connects the Yellow River and the Yangtse river. I looked up Wikipedia and here it is: Grand Canal of China. It is the largest ancient canal or artificial river in the world. 1794 kilometers long. Built and extended over several periods, starting about 5BC. For context, the famed Panama Canal , opened in 1914, is just about 80 kilometers.
From the section in the book, i also learned about Zheng He, who “led large naval expeditions into the Indian Ocean.”. From China Sea to Indean Ocean? This is quite some feat. I looked up Wikipedia for more info: Zheng He.
Ahh, so he is 鄭和, (1371–1433), and his trip in Chinese is called 三保太監下西洋. I think i've heard of that. The wikipedia article provides intriguing info. Such as the size of the Chinese ships, a world map of the era, et al. This lead me to become aware of a controversial book: 《1421—The Year China Discovered America》, (2004-01), by Gavin Menzies amazon
This is getting fascinating. It turns out, that this is a hot controversial book, that it claims that the Chinese has discovered American and sailed around the globe in 1421, which, if true, changes history as we know it.
Here's related Wikipedia article:
Here are some criticisms:
- “How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America” (2004-06) by Robert Finlay, Journal of World History. http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/15.2/finlay.html
- “1421” (2004-02) by Bill Poser. http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000409.html
For more, non-controversial, facts about Chinese junk ship and its comparatively advanced technology, see:
- China history etc.
- 花样年华 (Age Of Blossom) (China after World War II)
- 斬邪留正詩 (Kill the Vicious and Keep the Righteous poem)