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Yesterday, I had the opportunity – again neglect the third person , I apologize – to watch the film titled “Kon -Tiki”, which is the film version of the book that tells the adventure of a slightly nutty Norwegian man named Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002). I remember reading his book when I was 14 and I was very impressed ( “The adventures of the Kon -Tiki” by Thor Heyerdahl, Juventud Editions). This “crazy” Norwegian told in his book, now film, which the Incas had been reached Polynesia in rafts, crossing the Pacific Ocean. He organized the same adventure by building a replica of the Inca raft, the support of his crazy bunch of friends, setting course to the west Pacific to demonstrate his theory. They lived all adversity, shoulder to shoulder with all kinds of “sea critters” some very dangerous, and a parrot. Did they finally get their goal? The issuance of the Kon -Tiki also has its own museum in Norway – http://www.kon-tiki.no/ – .

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Thor Heyerdahl, viking of the twentieth century, with his crazy bunch of adventure colleages

Alongside going through that book, I remember reading about the adventures of the Viking explorers, who traveled with their tiny longships in search of other worlds without fear, to the brave. One of the books on diverse topics from those that did not wear horned helmets (lords of Hollywood, pleaseeee), explained how Danish did the refloating operations of two of these longships in the bay of Roskilde (Denmark), where you can eat some Spanish delicatessen (?). It seemed impossible that those warriors and sailors could cross the Atlantic to reach the current North of Canada in similar boats. The Viking settlement found in L’ Anse aux Meadows (northern Canada) in 1963 its a Viking settlement from the tenth century, attest that they did, sailing with their little drakkars dodging icebergs. We got to see dakkars bailed when we visited the Roskilde Museum (the museum of Viking longships – http://www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/en/ -) . Should be said that this institution is an example of what should be a museum for teaching. The number of activities that the museum program has for children and adults is huge and very interesting . They taught even how to build a Dakkar longship.

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Viking style wooden boats in Roskilde

If the Vikings had arrived in Canada in the tenth century, and the Incas were going rafting excursion on the ocean traveling 8,000 miles across the Pacific, where does that place Columbus in history? What were they trying to teach us in the history books? I was making a mess with all that in my fourteen years and over at the same time , dealing with puberty.

Bygning

 

Roskilde Museum – how to build a Viking boat

Many years later, by 2005, when I was living in Singapore, I came across the story of a new player who could definitely dethrone feat Columbus and his discovery of America in 1492. It was the Chinese admiral Zheng He (1371-1433). The Chinese learned in schools that Admiral Zheng He traveled through all the seas and oceans of the world with absolute ease. The Chinese do not doubt that Admiral Zheng He had arrived in South America in 1421, seventy years before the arrival of Columbus to the island of Spanish (now Dominican Republic – Haiti). Maps are supposedly mapped by the “treasure flee “, as the ships commanded by Zheng He were known, showing all the continents with detail. Anyway, this cast doubt on the authorship of the discovery of a radical way. Plus, considering that there are maps of the east coast of America attributed in turn to Armando Cortesao, Portuguese sailor, which drew in 1424 and possibly waving from the bridge of his vessel Zheng He .

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Zheng Map of the World

Zheng He ‘s ships had an average length of 120 meters and is known to possessed refrigerators. Its fleet was also equipped with all kinds of navigational instruments invented by themselves, as the compass, for example. Sailed the seas with absolute confidence. If they encountered an enemy ship , instead of firing a gun at the foolish , simply trampled . This ended when Emperor Hongxi , with plenty of internal governance problems , decided to ban the navigation outside the seas of influence of Chinese territory. This precluded the exchange of information on the progress of discovery that had occurred before. China wanted to be a quiet and isolated country in the world.

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Compared size  of Zheng’s boat with a caravel of Columbus

All these amazing stories seemed so little known that they were in the West, and saw and understood. At the time I decided I had to do justice to the Chinese version of the discovery of America and designed a project. For this I got in touch with the Bank of China , I met with their marketing and communication managers and I presented the idea of what could be ” the traveling exhibition of the discovery of America version Admiral Zheng He .” Intended to be a traveling exhibition for display worldwide and sponsored by “Bank of China”. We at that time functioned well, a little to the kamikaze. Loved the idea , but they answered – with their innate stiffness and protocol – you could not carry out the project because it would raise a firestorm of controversy in the West. They did not want to overshadow the idea that Europeans had discovered America and not the Chinese. We all we pretended was to do justice to a figure, that of Admiral Zheng He, who was one of the great explorers of history and almost unknown in the West. We miss you do, at least , a film about her figure since the exhibition was not possible.

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Admiral Zheng He ( 1371-1433 ) . Quanzhou Maritime Museum – does not have a website ( ? ) – .

 

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