On October 12, 1492, Columbus and his men became the first Europeans to set foot on the American continent. Or not.
There has been a lot of talk about the convenience of calling America ‘Conquest’ or ‘Discovery’ (from the Spanish and European point of view, that’s how it was, but not from the indigenous point of view, of course). And there is also the debate about whether the Vikings or even the Polynesians could arrive earlier.
What is evident, in any case, is that the arrival of the Spanish crew was the first they did to settle and continue discovering the continent before anyone else.
But in this bunch of theories, we find an especially curious one that has been much discussed and controversial in recent times, we talk about the 1421 theory.
Hypothesis 1421: how China could reach America before Columbus
The theory of the Chinese trip to America was popularized by the British amateur historian (and this is important to emphasize) Gavin Menzies in his 2002 book titled ‘1421: The Year China Discovered America’. The controversial and successful work claims that Chinese Admiral Zheng He came to America more than 70 years before the famous voyage of Christopher Columbus.
After reading “1421”, Liu Gang, a Chinese lawyer, realized the potential of a map that he had purchased for his private collection. Dated 1418 and clearly depicting the contours of North and South America, the map could be used to support Menzies’ theory if it turned out to be legitimate.
Falsification? Everything points to yes. Liu revealed his map at a press conference in Beijing on January 16, 2006.
Despite arousing immediate international interest, the map was quickly dismissed by many historians as a complete forgery.
Geoff Wade, Principal Investigator at the Asia Research Institute at the University of Singapore, explained to LiveScience that “the map is an 18th century copy of a European map, as evidenced by the two hemispheres depicted, the continents shown and the details not maritime [sic] represented “.
In the other field, Menzies fervently supports Liu and the 1418 map. His argument is that “every continent, ocean, land, island, river that appears on the 1418 map also appears on other Chinese maps of the same date or previous “.
Many others postulate as prior to Columbus
The Chinese map controversy may add to a growing database of claims for the pre-Columbian discovery of the Americas.
According to some scholars, it was the Scottish Earl Sir Henry Sinclair of the Orkney who first made American landfall in 1397, on one of the many voyages the sailor undertook with Italian partner Nicolo Zeno. Another controversial map drawn by Zeno himself is believed to outline the shores of Nova Scotia.
Supporters of this theory offer as evidence Sinclair’s well-known contact with nearby Viking lords, whose ancestors clearly appear to have reached North America centuries before any other European.