Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29398 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #870 on: August 28, 2007, 06:47:35 PM »

The Piri Reis map may very well have used information gathered by Vespucci, not Columbus, since Vespucci mapped a very long stretch of South America, which some cartographers believe is what has been mistakingly read as Antarctica on the Piri Reis map.  But then I guess it depends on one's historical or political bent, as maddie noted upstream. 

I have no idea what maps the Chinese had at their disposal, and it doesn't seem Menzies knows either.  I imagine most of the maps were their own from previous travels, as the Chinese had long established trade routes to the Middle East and Africa.  Whether they came across Greek, Phoenician or Summarian maps on their journeys is anyone's guess, but suffice it to say there is no way Zheng He could have covered so much ground on a two year voyage, even if his flotilla branched out in all directions, as Menzies implies.  If they came in contact with so many places and so many people, why is there virtually no corroborating evidence of these contacts? 

Menzies' theories simply don't bear up under any scrutiny, and have been lambasted in one journal after another.  Apparently he is now gleaning information from the feedback he gets on his website, but as Wills noted, this is kind of a self-fulfilling effort, as he no doubt will take only that which supports his arguments. 
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caclark
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« Reply #871 on: August 28, 2007, 07:01:53 PM »

"....Columbus died in ignominity, and probably would have remained there had he not been rescued by Washington Irving and mythologized into the discoverer of America."

You're right that Irving did perpetuate the Columbus legend. But CC was not sufficiently ignominious to keep the land allotted for the U.S. capitol from being named the District of Columbia more than three decades before Irving published his book.
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johnr60
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« Reply #872 on: August 28, 2007, 08:26:13 PM »

>This is partly due to Columbus' religious beliefs

I just want to point out that this might be better phrased as something like "worldview"-- the science and religion of what we call the civilized world in 1500 were in agreement.  Columbus believed the Orinoco to be the river of Purgatory from a Dantean picture.
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Bob
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« Reply #873 on: August 28, 2007, 08:29:52 PM »

On the other hand:

I didn't see any history of explorers flocking to get funding to go west in order to get to Asia prior to Columbus. His home country declined to fund Columbus, as did Portugal, and if memory serves, so did France. Only Spain  agreeed to fund him. And then he went and discovered the flock of islands and word spread throughout Europe of "new discoveries to the west." Columbus brought the western island to the attention of Europe and as a result of his voyages and discoveries, men like Vespucci then chose to follow in his footsteps. Had there been no Coumbian voyages, Vespucci probably might never even have thought of going west. No Columbus, no vespucci. Take Christopher Clolumbus  out of the picture and we have no Vespucci discovering anything. Vespucci was dependent on Columbus. It was Vespucci's "goal to fulfill Columbus's hopes of reaching Asia." (Boorstin, page 245).

I sort of like Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's view. In his biography of Columbus he points out that "the discovery of America was a process which began with Columbus but unfolded  bit by bit after his time, without being fully complete until our time." (Armesto--COLUMBUS--page 190.
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Bob
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« Reply #874 on: August 28, 2007, 08:50:31 PM »

Since neither Columbus nor  Vespucci never got to North America, we can't say they dscovered it---they never came here and never knew there was a continent or land mass here--John Cabot discovered the North American continent.

I have an 1827 History of the United States which credits Columbus with the discovery of America and gives Vespucci a one liner:

"In 1499, Alonzo de Ojeda, a companion of Columbus in his first expedition, sailing under the partronage of several Portugues merchants, discovered the continent at Paria, in the fifth degree of north latitude. Americus Vespucius, a Florentine gentleman who accompanied him, published, on his return, an account of the voyage and a description of the country which they had visited; and from him it derives its name." (HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES  published by Collins and Hannay [no author provided] 1827, page 11)

here we have an "unknown"  Alonzo de Ojeda being given credit, hmmmm!!
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #875 on: August 28, 2007, 09:30:21 PM »

now I’ll duck out of here before the shooting starts.



Van Daniken was a fraud and his theories were exposed for the mysticism that they were.  He alleged that certain rocks were created by space alien intruders and years later the actual artist fessed up that it was he who invented those creative works of artistic fiction. Meanwhile Van Daniken made a lot of money from his bogus works such as his books, his radio show on WMCA-AM, and his documentaries. It is a good bet that Menzies is profiting quite handsomely because of his mythic collection in 1421 and will eventually stop when someone in his fold will expose him as happened with VD.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #876 on: August 29, 2007, 03:08:08 AM »

John, while it is true that most enligtened persons of the day tried to reconcile natural science with religion, not all explorers were as mythologically bound as Columbus.  Vespucci for one.  Cortez was another.  They sailed under the auspices of the church and state, but had very pragmatic views in regard to what they saw.  Cortez compared the Aztec cities to ancient Roman cities, not the lost cities of the Bible.   No telling what kind of perspective Columbus would have put the Aztecs in, if they didn't eat him for lunch. 

Columbus seemed a reasonable enough man at first, weaned on Ptolemy's Geographia, but seemed unwilling to update his views of the globe as most explorers had done.  Few accepted Ptolemy's circumference of the earth, but Columbus did.  Some say it was because it served his purposes, as the Spanish court would not have granted him an expedition if they had known just how far away China was.  In addition to misjudging the circumference, Ptolemy also made China quite a bit larger than it actually is on his map.  Understandable, given the time he made it.  But other Greek astronomers, like Eratosthenes came much closer, but not as close as I had previously given the Greeks credit for,

However a nagging question was how big was the Earth? About 200 BC. Eratosthenes, a Greek astronomer, discovered a way to measure the circumference of the Earth. He had heard reports from the city of Syene Egypt, which was on the equator, that the Sun shown directly down vertical wells on the first day of summer. Eratoshtenes did not observe such phenonmenon at his home, thus he concluded that the Sun never reaches Zenith at his home in Alexandria 7o north of Syene.

Eratosthenes measured the Sun to be about 7o south of his local zenith on the first day of summer (the summer solstice). Based upon this observation is concluded that distance from Alexandria and Syene must be 7/360 or 1/50 that of Earth's circumference since 360o make up a complete circle.

At the time the standardunit of measurement was called a stade and is thought to be about 1/6 of a kilometer. The distance from Syene to Alexandria was about 5000 stades. Thus, Eratosthenes estimated the Earth's circumference to be about

50 x 5000 = 25,000 stades = 42,000 km.

The modern value for the circumference of the Earth is 40,000 km. So Eratosthenes was correct to within 5% of the actual value.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #877 on: August 29, 2007, 03:20:40 AM »

By that logic, Bob, then one has to give credit to a lot of people, as the westward urge had been a strong one for some time, dating back to the Vikings, and according to Farley Mowat, to the Albans, and probably all the way back to the Greeks and Sumerians.  Surely, these stories and myths filtered into the European consciousness, not to mention maps that showed land masses between Europe and China.  Although Cipango most likely referred to Japan, even if floating a bit too far away from the Asian mainland.  One has to give Columbus credit for finally getting one of these exploration missions funded, and had he not brought back something it probably would have been the end of such voyages for some time. But, discovery implies knowing where you are, which you noted in one of your earlier posts, and Columbus after four voyages still felt he was the edge of the Orient.  Vespucci correctly felt he had discovered a new continent. 

However, if we are to believe Menzies both were about 80 years too late.  Unfortunately, no Chinese map survives which shows anything approaching the continental land masses of North and South America, although Menzies believes that the Piri Reis map was based on Chinese maps of the time.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #878 on: August 29, 2007, 03:31:52 AM »

It is interesting to me that the Chinese chose not to sail East, daring convention.  What makes Columbus's voyage special is that the defied convention by sailing in the opposite direction of European voyages at the time, because most everyone felt that the distant was far too great to reach China and that there was little or no land mass enroute to replenish supplies.  Alan Taylor, in American Colonies, felt that such a voyage would have never been undertaken had not the Ottoman empire been so powerful, as they controlled the Sinai, forcing Europeans to navigate around the horn of Africa.  Columbus thought he had found a shortcut to the Orient.  Magellan would later prove how wrong Columbus was.  It took 18 months for Magellan to reach Guam, completing roughly two-thirds of the journey, without side trips to Antarctica and Greenland and exploring the Eastern coastine of North America.  It took another 16 months for the survivors of this voyage to complete the circumnavigation.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #879 on: August 29, 2007, 04:29:02 AM »

Thanatopsy, I agree with you that Menzies is pretty much playing to the same audience that was attracted to Van Daniken books (weezo excepted).  However, he is much smarter than VD in that he is keeping his events terrestrial and therefor more in the realm of plausibility than were VD's bogus theories on alien encounters.  Menzies conveniently finds ways to skirt conflicting information, choosiing to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, as Johnny Mercer used to sing.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #880 on: August 29, 2007, 05:45:56 AM »

I have to wonder if we are going to have another spate of these books, like all those books on the Bermuda Triangle back in the 70s.  My question is why all these theories continue to skirt around the fact that the so-called native Americans found their way to the Amercan continents millinea before the Chinese, Columbus or even the Egyptians, if we are to believe Hyerdahl?  The Kon-Tiki expedition was probably one of the better expeditions at explaining how Polynesians may have come to the Americas so long ago.  We know that they came to Easter Island. 
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Bob
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« Reply #881 on: August 29, 2007, 08:33:05 AM »

Quote
discovery implies knowing where you are, which you noted in one of your earlier posts, and Columbus after four voyages still felt he was the edge of the Orient.  Vespucci correctly felt he had discovered a new continent. 

Agreed--good point
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #882 on: August 29, 2007, 08:41:38 AM »

Menzies conveniently finds ways to skirt conflicting information


Yup.  I'll give him credit for being clever as well as entertaining.


*************************************************************************************************


The Rhode Island Tower - p 329 et seq


Menzies claims it was created by Chinese settlers in what is present day Rhode Island.  Earlier investigations into it sugggest it was created by British settlers/colonialists:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport_Tower_(Rhode_Island)

While I certainly am no expert on architecture (heck, I wouldn't even qualify as a rank amateur on the subject), the structure clearly appears to be of Western origin. There are no reported Eastern inscriptions on it or any other proofs of Chinese origin.  But, again, Menzies is not convinced.
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Bob
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« Reply #883 on: August 29, 2007, 08:45:38 AM »

Quote
then one has to give credit to a lot of people, as the westward urge had been a strong one for some time, dating back to the Vikings, and according to Farley Mowat, to the Albans, and probably all the way back to the Greeks and Sumerians.

Not really, I was suggesting that if we take away Columbus and give it to Vespucci, then I would agree with Armesto's theory that the discovery of America was  a process and give due credit to others who came after Vespecci. Armesto's idea begins with Columbus, presupposes he is the discoverer, others presuppose Vespucci. My idea wouldn't  push things all the way back. I would still give Columbus credit for bringing the Western approaches to the attention of Europe and thus starting the voyages West.

Just an oppinion, yours is an interesting proposition. There's a new  biography of Vespucci out now. I'll have to buy it
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caclark
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« Reply #884 on: August 29, 2007, 12:10:28 PM »

Dzimas, August 29, 2007 at 3:20 AM: ".....discovery implies knowing where you are, which you noted in one of your earlier posts, and Columbus after four voyages still felt he was the edge of the Orient....."

Since when did discovery imply knowing where you are? I don't grasp that logic at all. It's like saying that if you stumble onto something on your way to somewhere but don’t know exactly what it is you’ve turned up, then you haven’t really discovered anything. That's just silly. Many initial discoveries are accidental and all of them represent just the tip of a much larger iceberg. When Ben Franklin flew a kite and got a jolt, that didn't teach him how to build a hydroelectric power plant. But the experiment did seem to corroborate his long held theory that lightening was in fact electricity.

Columbus didn't set out to discover a new world. He was just seeking a shorter trade route to Asia than the route then in use. Toward that goal, he failed miserably. But along the way, he encountered something unexpected and it proved to be a watershed event in human history. That's why I find so irrational and fanatical the resistance to calling it a discovery.
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