. . . plus c’est la même chose

Gavin Menzies, a retired British naval officer and submarine commander, has advanced a startling thesis.  He believes that, in 1421-23, a large Chinese fleet circumnavigated the world and skirted the continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica, and North America.  Before you dismiss his contention as the latest multicultural myth, like claiming black Africa as the source of Greek civilization, realize that Menzies has amassed a formidable array of evidence that demonstrates, at the very least, that the early European explorers had sources of geographic information of parts of the world yet to be explored, of which previous historians have not been aware.

Consider the 1424 map of the Atlantic drawn by Venetian cartographer Zuane Pizzigano.  The map includes four islands located in the far western Atlantic.  Menzies believes the largest, Antilia (medieval Portuguese for “island on the opposite side”), is Puerto Rico and the second largest, Satanazes (“Satan’s island”), is Guadeloupe.  Antilia is shaped like Puerto Rico, and includes all the latter’s major bays.  In addition, Pizzigano wrote con and ymana on his map (“volcano erupts here”).  Menzies found that the volcanoes on Guadeloupe had erupted twice between 1400 and 1440, but had been dormant for the previous 100 and the next 250 years.  Even the island’s name suggested...

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