Author: SL Lee
Date: 06-15-07 15:15
The recent news on the carbon dating of chicken bones found in Chile is an important independent support of Zheng He's fleet arriving in America before Columbus.
The period 1304-1424 (quoted by the original paper and Xinhuanet) is within the time frame as Zheng He's 1st to 6th journey under Emperor Yong Le of Ming dynasty. There are different reports on the timing of the carbon dating:
Version 1 – 1304-1424 (Xinhuanet, Nature, LiveScience, AmericanThinker)
Version 2 – 1321-1407 (MSNBC, LA Times, New Scientists, Seattle Times)
Version 3 – 1300-1400 (Australian reporters from Australian Broadcast System)
For some reason, some of these reports round off the date earlier that would exclude the possibility of Zheng He reaching the American continents. It is not the proper thing to do when the timing is of utmost importance.
Although the authors suggest that the chicken were carried to Chile by Polynesians, there are several points that should be considered this as an evidence to support Zheng He's voyage to the Americas.
1. There is no evidence that Polynesians had any settlement in South America. There is no other clues of Polynesian presence in South America before or after this period. If they were capable of reaching South America by rafts or canoes, there should be more evidence of contact.
2. There is no indication of Polynesians raising chicken on rafts and canoes, but Chinese have been raising chicken on boats for a long time. Almost all boat people in Hong Kong still keep chicken on boats. They are an economic source of protein (meat and eggs) to recycle food scraps.
3. To raise and carry chicken by raft or canoes for thousands of miles is unlikely. However, for a big fleet of Zheng He, it was possible. In fact, there is written record that Zheng He brought chicken, sheep and dog on board for food. The Pacific Ocean current is against traveling from Samoa to Chile, unless they first traveled south to New Zealand. The authors only cited chicken in Samoa and not New Zealand. It would take the Samoans a lot longer to travel south and then east to Chile. How did the people survive on rafts and canoes? Starting from Samoa, Polynesians should have been carried by the oceanic current to Panama and Mexico, not Chile. (Thor Heyerdahl sailed a reed boat (Kon Tiki) for 101 days over 4,300 miles in 1947, starting from Peru to Tuamotu Islands because he was with the current).
4. The author indicates that the chicken in Chile and Samoa have the same single point mutation and is different from Asian chicken. This does not preclude the same kind of chicken existed in Ming dynasty. Dr. Betty Meggers of the Smithsonian Institute also proposes that the chicken was of Asian origin. The modern chicken in China probably has new genes introduced from other parts of world upon contact with Europeans after late Ming and Qing dynasty. (This would be a topic for Chinese archaeologists to confirm with Ming chicken relics.)
5. It is well known that chicken was first developed in Asia. China is the world's first in domestication of chicken at least 5000-4600 years ago. Terra cotta chicken as offerings to the dead are found in QuJiaLing 屈家岭culture in Hubei province.
Samoa chicken history is about 2000 years. There is indication that the Sea Silk Route already existed in Han dynasty. Polynesians and America did not have chicken. They got their chicken from China.
I have presented a number of lectures last year in Hong Kong at Royal Geographic Society, University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong History Museum. (see : http://www.asiawind.com/zhenghe/
There are more than a dozen independent evidence that Zheng He's fleet reached America. While more evidence is still needed to confirm the circumnavigation by Zheng He as proposed by Gavin Menzies in his book "1421 - China Discovered the World", I firmly believe that there is no question that Zheng He reached America before Columbus. The independent research of the New Zealand scientists actually provides another support.
Professor Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith, of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, has done a great job in providing this new piece of evidence. I hope this will inspire more research to correct the dogma of "Columbus Discovered America".