I just finished reading "1421 the Year the Chinese Discovered the World" written by Gavin Menzies. A few posts ago I reported on the Man Who Loved China and I called the post "How Accurate is Our History." This is more on the same theme about the advancement the Chinese had made and then closed themselves off from the world.
Both books explore the same theme and really make you question the history we were taught.
Menzies proposes that in the year 1421 the Chinese with numerous large ships travelled to all parts of the earth. He has much evidence that he puts together to support this view of history. The Chinese had regularly traded with India for 600 years. The Chinese had ventured down the east African coast for 200 years. The Chinese understood to a high degree the basics if navigation. This meant they were able to go to unknown areas of the earth and be confident that they could find their way home. They could also chart with some accuracy the lands they visited.
The first European explorers had a map of where they were going. Menzies believes Columbus and others had charts made by the Chinese. Ship wrecks have been found dating from the 1421 in various areas. Artifacts such as the blue china the Chinese produced has been found in the areas the Chinese discovered. The Chinese collected plants from vast areas and took them home as well as establish them in other locations. Menzies puts these ideas together with many others and gives a very convincing argument that the Chinese were the first to discover the world.
By the time they returned to China the old emperor had died and the new emperor had all evidence of this exploration destroyed and China went into a long period of isolation from the rest of the world.
Next, I will read 1434 and after that a book that argues with some of Menzies evidence.