1421: The Year China Discovered America?

1421: The Year China Discovered America?

2004, History  -   90 Comments
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Ratings: 7.81/10 from 79 users.

1421: The Year China Discovered America?This fascinating documentary examines the mystery surrounding the sailing exploits of the legendary Admiral Zheng and his 30 year command of a gigantic Ming fleet.

The Chinese court burned all records of Admiral Zheng's daring voyages and achievements, and unwittingly created a mystery that tantalizes the world 500 years later.

You've heard what the history books have to say about the discovery of America, but now prepare to have your entire perception of history forever altered with this remarkable release from PBS.

Could it be that a fearless Chinese admiral actually discovered America nearly a century before Columbus made his historical landing at San Salvador?

Travel back to the year 1421 and follow the legendary Admiral Zheng as he and his formidable Ming fleet travel far and wide to explore little-visited outposts at the behest of Chinese emperor Zhu Di.

Based on theories put forward by noted historian and best-seller Gavin Menzies, this thought-provoking take on conventional history proposes that it was Admiral Zheng who led European explorers to the West a whole 71 years after first setting foot on American soil.

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Joseph Anthony
Joseph Anthony
3 years ago

Where is part 2?

Brian Andrejicka
Brian Andrejicka
3 years ago

Columbus and Zheng were NOT the first to arrive on the continent. L'Anse aux Meadows (/ˈlænsi ˈmɛdoʊz/) is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the Great Northern Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Archaeological evidence of a Norse presence was discovered at L'Anse aux Meadows in the 1960s. It is the only confirmed Norse or Viking site in or near North America outside of the settlements found in Greenland.[1][2] Dating to c. 1000, L'Anse aux Meadows is widely accepted as evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. It is notable for its possible connection with Leif Erikson, and with the Norse exploration of North America. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.[3] The Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows has been dated to approximately 1,000 years ago (carbon dating estimate 990–1050 CE),[12] an assessment that tallies with the relative dating of artifact and structure types.

Bruce Prescott
Bruce Prescott
5 years ago

We have one of there boats sunk on the beach here in New Zealand its hull measured the same size huge boat and wood test confirm its origin, there peoples DNA is one of our countrys first people , Maui and Rata were greek

fk_censors
fk_censors
6 years ago

Wonderful documentary, I loved how it didn't try to prove a point, but rather presented both sides of the argument - allowing the originator of the revisionist story the opportunity to defend his claims. Well done, quite balanced, and I learned a lot of history!

Roland Mahoney
Roland Mahoney
6 years ago

Zheng He's voyages were almost certainly greater than we imagine and certainly demonstrated the level of Chinese technology at the time. However, the question of whether he (or Leif Erikson or someone else) landed in America or not is irrelevant. Columbus' exploits, regardless of whether he was the first or tenth outsider to 'discover' the Americas, had real consequences. The Western world, and soon thereafter the rest of the world, changed after 1492.

Olmecs Statues
Olmecs Statues
6 years ago

The oldest known civilization in america is the olmecs civilization. search up the "statues of the olmecs heads", which date back thousands of years, and you will know for a fact who was the first people in america. You judge for yourselve, which race the resemble.

No rules, you can lie to yourselve if you want, im not here to convince anyone

Kalamakuaikalani
Kalamakuaikalani
7 years ago

Actually Zheng He was born into a Muslim family but due to exposure of religions everywhere he traveled, he was more into Tianfei, who was the patron saint of sailors & people who traveled by sea everywhere.

Travis Johnson
Travis Johnson
7 years ago

Also, who cares who discovered america? will that change anything today if thats proven? No, I don't have a care in regards to it either way. I just think his argument logic is severly flawed, and if you actually believe what he is saying when he has absolutely no proof, nothing. His arguments even said "they looked a little like chinese in that they were nimble and quick". Specifically said, they looked like asiatic which says to me they obviously werent.

Travis Johnson
Travis Johnson
7 years ago

That guy is entirely full of ****. His logic is basically, because I think chinese people were in america, they were in america. I mean has he even considered that its more likely they got the asiatic gene from the ice age, when alaska connected the continents? Its a known fact people wandered around. Dude logic is false, argument is false, he should quit or be fired from whatever hes doing. He is not practicing anything more then wild speculation.(in some cases I felt his arguments worked better against him, then they did with him.)Sad, sad man.

Dave Heckler
Dave Heckler
8 years ago

I've read two versions of 1421 as I have read over 100 books about Chinese history. And I truly believe that he is right and USA just simply does not want to admit that we were all taught a lie about Columbus. He bamboozled the queen in to financing his trip to America. Also in this movie nothing was mentioned of the many facts that were recorded in the mans extensive research. I've always liked China and studied it for many years. We as a country have something to learn from a culture of 10,000 years.....................Dave

LarryB
LarryB
8 years ago

Russia was in Alaska before 1421, they harvested pelts and enslaved the natives almost 200 years earlier. That is if Alaska counts as North America.

sai ram
sai ram
9 years ago

Once a red indian landed in Europe. He was the first one to land in Europe. He shouted that he had discovered europe. Then cops shouted at him and asked that there was a prior civilization there, a good and developed culture. Then he asked "who is Columbus to discover America?" Yeah, thats true. History is written by Europeans

Dank Raven
Dank Raven
9 years ago

Gavin Menzies is clearly clinging to a weak hypothesis. This doc fell flat on it's face in the second hour...

Ambrose Howard
Ambrose Howard
9 years ago

Funny, We are one and all the same, an interconnection of all things of this earth. And to say who discovered? My say First Nations over land bridge. To become the one's who are holding the new world in pristine shape, but oh yes we are savages.

Tim Caffery
Tim Caffery
9 years ago

Well, the boom in the spirit industry sent venture capitalist to the jungle of Mexico to find mescal to market. Mescal is tequila's grandparent. It was discovered that they used an underground distilling method, as well as bamboo tools (not indigenous to any America), that suggest Chinese influence. But I know why the West & CCP are scared we all realize this is true, look what it makes them into? The key to liberating the Chinese will be history & the associated cultural identity. History's theme: every Chinese is a descendant of an Emperor.

Umaram Almaarfy
Umaram Almaarfy
10 years ago

just a note he was muslim

disqusdamnuserid
disqusdamnuserid
10 years ago

ancient Ming coins found in BC, Canada.

Vicki_in_Greece
Vicki_in_Greece
10 years ago

I watched again - great theory, be good when research from young grad students start putting the pieces together. Nothing frightens someone in their tenured ivory tower than a really smart civilian with a new theory. LOL!
The author dares to challenge the Euro centric history tellers. bravo!

Vicki_in_Greece
Vicki_in_Greece
10 years ago

I'm so happy to be able to see this. I luv the book. What an adventure! 'discovered' is a very colonial, imperialistic isn't it? we should start a trend of using another way to say - what should we say?
'they saw a land they never knew existed and met the people there'
trying to think of a shorter phrase

Ella Silver
Ella Silver
10 years ago

This guy thinks a MAP is enough? The Vikings were there AGES before Columbus. Everybody knows that.. Ok it is fairly well understood that they stayed north but there is no guarantee of that.

Iris Thomas
Iris Thomas
11 years ago

omg i hearing so many things and im doing a history paper and im looking fro information

urban deadite
urban deadite
11 years ago

the Dacians went to America LOL, of the many great things the Dacians were known for Ocean Exploration was not one of them. Sea Sailing is quite hard in a country of Mountains landlocked in the center of Europe. Strange no one in China believes this who studies history, gullible westerners.

Apart from the Norse there is no real evidence anyone did all 'if' but' 'could have' 'maybe'.

Stray ships lost that are landing in America always a chance.

Zheng He WAS NOT an Explorer either he went on diplomatic missions on WELL KNOWN trade routes, the Song Dynasty 500 years before was already trading as far as East Africa anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Chinese History knows this, this program is just for people who maybe have no idea about Chinese History, its a joke.

from China.

Christinne
Christinne
11 years ago

One cannot exactly pinpoint who first discovered America but anyway its obvious it happened centuries before Columbus the murderer. Phoenicians were there, Egyptian too, Turks, Chinese, Celts, Dacians and others.... But history is written by victors, rite? Yet the lies wont last forever....

emenot
emenot
11 years ago

3300-2800 B.C. Peanuts native to America found in Chinese digs.

3000-2000 B.C. Chinese stone anchors are discovered off the California coast, dated to this time period by manganese deposits.

2000 B.C. Chinese cotton is introduced to Peru about this time.

1500 B.C. Stone bark-cloth beaters are in America, nearly identical beaters in use in China from 2400 B,C.

1100 B.C. Chinese pyramid building techniques are the same as American pyramid building

1100 B.C. Hookworm is introduced to America about this time

Tlakwagilagame
Tlakwagilagame
11 years ago

As a Tlowitsis Man, whom can trace my lineage and history back to my origin story and ancestor of Numas, I reside in the "Colony" of British Columbia Canada..... Finding America's!!!!! I think there should be some documentaries done with the Indigenous Peoples of North and South America depicting their stories, origins..... just saying

Johndouglas
Johndouglas
11 years ago

Where's my comment? All I did was create a synopsis of all the others!

Johndouglas
Johndouglas
11 years ago

SAD AMERICANS!
Still trying to find out who you are!
You're a b*****d race, accept it!
I lived and worked in your country for many years and still find you to be one of the most racially contrite nations I have ever met!
If the native americans had been there for thousands of years, did they need to be "discovered". I'm sure they knew where they were and were not therefore lost!
The invaders are the barbarians not the discoverers!

Fredd Robertson
Fredd Robertson
11 years ago

Who knows what happened?
Between ice ages and an ever evolving continent...
Firstly,
Burn your bastardized Amercanized History books...
Conquering societies seem to get all the credit...
Perhaps future generations will believe?
America was discovered by a goofy clown with big red shoes
Named Ronald!
PS There is other great reading available regarding the high possibility of Chinese visits to the western shore of Canada...(pre-Columbus era) where mining and smelting may have taken place...and the many cultural similarities with First Nation's Peoples.
DISCOVER! Your local library

khek
khek
11 years ago

I really like all your documentary film. Professional work. From Cambodia.

Brandon Nolin
Brandon Nolin
11 years ago

After reading some of the comments regarding this program it has come to my attention that many of you do not understand the word "discover". The word does indeed mean "to see", or "to learn' as you all know. However, that is only half of the word as in science no one has discovered anything by just "seeing". No, to discover is to document and disclose your findings. If we use the understanding of majority of the commenter’s here in context then it was the first man to breathe air that discovered oxygen or the first man to see lightning to discover electricity. Discovery is more than seeing it is understanding and documenting that understanding then sharing it with your peers.

Brandon Nolin
Brandon Nolin
11 years ago

This was a very entertaining watch. It is tantalizing to think that the Chinese discovered North America before the Europeans, but I take this with a grain of salt and will dismiss as pseudo science. As far as whom first discovered and populated the America's? It is obvious that the Native American's did, but we are talking about “Stone Age” peoples who used pictograph to illustrate their day to day lives after coming across from Asia around 15,000 years ago (Over a land bridge formed over the Bering Sea). From what we know from archeological evidence is that Leif Erikson and his crew were the 1st men from the known world to land and settle (although temporarily) in what is known as Vinland in today’s L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland Canada around approx 1000 A.D.. So it still goes to show that Columbus was not the 1st European to reach the "New World" and was in fact 500 years late and would more accurately be the discoverer of the Caribbean. Even then it is still a disputed fact whether or not he did first discover the Caribbean, his voyage was heavily publicized and of great import for his time.

Brandon Nolin
Brandon Nolin
11 years ago

This was a very entertaining watch. It is tantalizing to think that the Chinese discovered North America before the Europeans, but I take this with a grain of salt and will dismiss as pseudo science. As far as whom first discovered and populated the America's? It is obvious that the Native American's did, but we are talking about “Stone Age” peoples who used pictograph to illustrate their day to day lives after coming across from Asia around 15,000 years ago (Over a land bridge formed over the Bering Sea). From what we know from archeological evidence is that Leif Erikson and his crew were the 1st men from the known world to land and settle (although temporarily) in what is known as Vinland in today’s L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland Canada around approx 1000 A.D.. So it still goes to show that Columbus was not the 1st European to reach the "New World" and was in fact 500 years late and would more accurately be the discoverer of the Caribbean. Even then it is still a disputed fact whether or not he did first discover the Caribbean, his voyage was heavily publicized and of great import for his time.

TonyIII
TonyIII
11 years ago

There are many here arguing essntially the same thing: That it is impossible to discover an inhabited place. The premise is false and indicates poor or angry school teachers. Is it possible to discover Austrailia, New Zealand, the Missisippi River or the Great Salt Lake? Is it possible to discover a new restaurant or a better school? A "discovery" is when one finds a place or thing he didn't know know about. In the case of Coumbus; he found, through considerable personal effort, the huge unknown lands far to the west and made it known to Europe. That's all it means. There is no reason to feel threatened; really!
That doesn't take away from any of the other travellors. God bless'em!

noconman
noconman
11 years ago

It really is pointless to speculate on who traveled here first, unless you want to look at native american origin.
Regardless of who managed to travel to this continent, after it was already populated, It was the europeans who colonized it in the name of their God and manifest destiny. It started the largest and most heartless genocides in human history.
There does seem to be some simularites in both appearence and cultures between asians and native american tribes. Logically, I would think the asians made it here first.
There is at least no doubt about who did not participate in the murder of roughly 80 million native americans, China.
History makes the Nazi atrocities look like a minor attempt by Hitler to be a copycat of the european morals and ethics that succeeded in stealing america, but on a far greater and successful scale.
Now america is attempting to dominate and rule the world, just like all the empires of past. It's citizens are powerless, unaware or just turn a blind eye to what it's government is really doing.They justify it by calling it nation building, instead of colonizing.
The future does seem to be nothing more than repeating the past and we have learned nothing.
When the US government turns on it's own citizens and treats them like they did native americans, maybe then, they will understand how history works.

Chris Clyne
Chris Clyne
11 years ago

Ah wasnt interesting enough for me to watch the 2nd part. Presumes much, I can easily say with just as much "proof" Solomon employed Hiram Abiff thousands of years earlier to sail over here. Vid/Aud were great tho

mahonhouse
mahonhouse
11 years ago

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO THAT STINks. Good job leaving the summary though, at least I have that,lol. U think they'd want everyone to know.lol

Roberta Dyer
Roberta Dyer
11 years ago

I was going with this new idea until so much of the theory was baseless or refuted with real historical evidence. It still leaves that one question unanswered, so perhaps in the end it could be right.

Lobna Mahjoubi
Lobna Mahjoubi
11 years ago

but we Arab also have some old documents showing that Andalusia people had discovered USA :p

Steven Susaña
Steven Susaña
11 years ago

In response to the Genes... Bering Strait. 'nough said.

jim dorey
jim dorey
12 years ago

everyone knows that columbus wasn't even the first european to discover america, there's no need even mentioning him by name. wgaf what his name was? he wasn't first, why celebrate such a conqueror when there were peaceful explorers before him?

jim dorey
jim dorey
12 years ago

yah, i was wondering why they mentioned columbus, we know he wasn't the first european to come here, so, wgaf?

Moses Sánchez De Luna
Moses Sánchez De Luna
12 years ago

I know who discovered the americas...
The indigenous people OF THE AMERICAS!!
People like the Maya, Mixtec, Toltec, Mexica's (aztecs) Olmec, Zapotec, Inca
s and other civilizations that are rooted in the america's, whether it North, South, Central or Meso-America. We act as if the people native to the America's are non-existent, as if they did not thrive with advanced civilizations of their own, making breakthroughs in Math, Astrology, Science, and other Subjects.

Tim Flinchum
Tim Flinchum
12 years ago

This is an amazing documentary. I want to read the text by Menzies. One of the most curious facts is that giraffes made it back to China, which seems almost impossilbe. If that is true, other suggestions such as the Bimini Road, certainly could be as well. Time will reveal more.

mezzof
mezzof
12 years ago

I agree with the gentlemen who said the First Nations people discovered America. I have never understood why people say Columbus or the Vikings discovered America...I mean, how do you "discover" something that has already been found!?

As for Menzie's theory, there are certainly a lot of holes as the documentary pointed out but I think it's too early to say it is FALSE. There is no hard evidence to prove him right but there is no evidence to prove him wrong either. New things are being discovered everyday and all it will take is one Chinese artifact in the Caribbean or New York that has been carbon dated to the Ming Dynasty that will change everyone's perception. That's how science works.

Think about this: Almost everything nowadays is being digitized. Journals, books, photographs and videos. Should something terrible happen in the future and all the digital evidence is destroyed...and physical evidence erodes over time as it wonts to do (natural decay, destruction via war or just replacing old things)...future historians/archaeologists might have trouble proving certain truths about our time as well. It doesn't mean it never happened though.

Alyssa Hsu
Alyssa Hsu
12 years ago

Although I still have not finished this documentary, I find Menzie's argument weak since his evidences were frail. Every time he raises a good argument it would be quickly denied by other scholars and Menzie couldn't do anything to back it up.

iesika
iesika
12 years ago

Menzies came out looking pretty silly, didn't he? The part of the documentary that focused on actual history was fascinating, and the rampant speculation was pretty well debunked. I thought this was pretty good, all around. I wish more of these "MAVERICK WITH NEW THEORY CHALLENGES ACADEMIC ESTABLISHMENT" things had actual experts in them; that was nice.

Norman Hawk Nordic
Norman Hawk Nordic
12 years ago

this is correct and loved it! i do have some more, i'll try to put it on the line

TonyIII
TonyIII
12 years ago

A fine documentary, with wonderful reenactments which incidently shows how seriously the Chinese take themselves. The theory seems to me to be a bit of a stretch and praise to the producers for mentioning it. Perhaps due to a Chinese diet the fleet didn't have a scurvy problem; but the Atlantic is a very big Ocean and there is the problem of getting past Africa and South America.
There is also not much physical evidence. I found it interesting that the Chinese Admiral Zheng was a eunuch and a slave I suppose; so perhaps it might give us food for thought about the reason slavery was not regarded as intrinsically evil. But that's asking a lot in our times.

Lilly1964
Lilly1964
12 years ago

This was quite interesting. However, there exist research in the Egyptian voyages to the Americas (pyramid construction and customs of Inca, Mayan, Aztec) long before possible voyages of China.

Jack1952
Jack1952
12 years ago

The documentary covers the story of the Chinese fleet in a direct and factual manner until the fleet leaves the Indian Ocean. After this it becomes speculative with very, if any, real evidence to back up its claims. That it is plausible...of course. That it happened...maybe. Until Menzies finds more evidence it is only another historical myth. Compare it to the Viking stories that say they came to North America. Historians were not sure whether they were fact or not until they found a Viking settlement in Newfoundland. That settled any dispute once and for all.