Mapmakers are currently discussing the authenticity of a map that might prove a Chinese sailor, admiral Zhu Di, was the first person to discover America. Gavin Menzies, a British amateur historian, wrote a book called 1421 — The Year China Discovered the World. In it, he writes that Zhu Di sailed around the world in the fifteenth century and discovered new lands. His claims are now supported by the recent discovery of an ancient map in Shanghai. The map dates back to 1418, seventy years before Columbus stepped foot on American shores. Scientists are currently testing the age of the map.
Mr. Menzies makes further claims about Zhu Di that turn our knowledge of history upside down. He states that the Chinese sailor sailed around the globe a century before Magellan, discovered Antarctica and reached Australia three hundred and fifty years before Captain Cook. Menzies says the admiral’s maps were never used by his country’s navy, as China had little interest in the world beyond its borders. Until now, Chinese experts have said there is little truth in Mr. Menzies’ book. However, the new map clearly shows America, Africa and Europe. It was bought for $500 in a Shanghai antiques shop.