井底之蛙

1/14/2006

Menzies and the problem of the “Smoking Gun” document

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:23 am
1763 Chinese Map Claims to be copy of 1418 Map

Menzies’ thesis won’t die. Just when it seemed to be fading out (unless Menzies’ argument about Mongol exploration is really his next focus), along comes this map (discussed in more depth here; update: and with translations of the notations here, and much more discussion by actual map historians here) which claims to be a 1763 copy of a 1418 map of the world. The Economist story even cites it as a possible source for previously unexplained pre-Columbian maps showing (something vaguely resembling) the Americas!

Geoff Wade at the National University of Singapore (who has challenged Menzies before) provided a quick rebuttal to the Economist article, so I don’t have to

The map is an 18th century copy of a European map, as evidenced by the two hemispheres depicted, the continents shown and the non-maritime detailed depicted. It proves nothing other than the Chinese (and Japanese) were copying European maps. That your writer has contributed to the Menzies’ bandwagon and its continuing deception of the public is saddening. The support mentioned all comes from Mr Menzies’ band of acolytes and the claims have no academic support whatsoever.

He goes into some detail on both the maps and “experts” cited, and I’m sure H-Asia will be abuzz for a while on this topic.

There are two things that I find interesting about this, on first look.

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