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Did Zheng He discover America?

The Chinese explorer seems to have discovered US 70 years before Columbus if a map drawn in 1763 by a Chinese cartographer is real.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2006 15:16 IST

Legendary Chinese explorer Zheng He seems to have discovered America 70 years before Christopher Columbus in 1492 if a controversial map drawn in 1763 by a Chinese cartographer is real.

Carbon dating has shown that a controversial map drawn in 1763 by a Chinese cartographer is real, and not a modern forgery, the owner of the map claimed on Friday.

The map could have an important influence on a re-evaluation of Chinese and Western maritime exploration.

The map was originally unveiled in Beijing on January 16, attracting interest from across the globe. The owner, Liu Gang, a Chinese lawyer and map collector, said at the time that it was an authentic 1763 copy of a 1418 Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) original.

The original map has not been found, but if real, the 1763 copy could be proof that it existed. If so, it gives credence to the theory that Chinese sailors traversed the globe long before their European counterparts, the 'China Daily' reported.

The carbon dating on the 1763 map's paper, undertaken by University of Waikato in New Zealand, showed that the most likely probability of a date, 42.4 per cent, was between 1730 and 1810. The second most likely result was between 1640 and 1690, the paper said.

"The period matches the date written by the cartographer, 1763. I believe that the carbon dating is very useful to confirm the paper of the map is the right year," Liu said.

First Published: Mar 24, 2006 14:19 IST