China Shipwreck Research
Welcome guest, is this your first visit?
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17
  1. #1

    May 2005
    8 times

    China Shipwreck Research

    Has anyone done any reaserch on wrecks in China, particularly Xiamen (previously called "Amoy")?

  2. #2

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. #3

    Jun 2005

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    China had massive fleets that traversed the Oceans hundreds of years before Europe. They built boats over 400 feet long in the 1300's, and engaged in trade from africa to india. These fleets were called treasure boats, as they were loaded with chinese goods going out and came back with indian gems and African diamonds, gold and ivory. China abandoned their fleets in the late 1400's. There are many shipwrecks in the south china seas.

  4. #4

    Dec 2003
    4 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    There is also some accounts of these going down around Malaka, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and along the African coast. After the death of Zhu Di, china began to isolate themselves, and ll records from the library were burned, including the official records of these voyages- too bad considering these would be a fantastic read. I know that Gavin Menzies believes that the Bimini road stones were ballast stones from some of these ships, or a ramp constructed for the maintenance and careening of these vessels during a stopover, but this has not been proved. Samples of the stones could determine the origin, but I don't believe that this has been performend. Cornelius- if you actually know where these are around Bimini, your sitting on the greatest underwater archaeological discovery in a very, very, long time, if not ever, because of what it would prove. A wreck of one of these treasure ships(even of one that just carried water) would be astounding, and a great find, but I would focus the hunt in areas where it is known they've actually been.
    On another note- some other great sites would be the sunken fleets of Genghis and Kublai Khan(1274, 1281)- the famous Kamikazi wrecks off the coast of Japan at Takashima and Hakata bay have barely been touched, and there's several other locations where parts of these fleets went down. In looking at the brief excavation that the University of Tokyo did in '82- National Geographic covered this in the November '82 issue, the preservation of the artifacts was astounding- an absolutely amazing helmet with engraved dragons for one. Anything along those lines would be a fantastic haul! Good luck!

  5. #5

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    I found this on the web, I could not find any copyright so I posted it anyway.

    China's Role in the Manila Galleon Trade
    by Teddy Dewalt

    China played the leading role among the East Asian nations in the famous Manila Galleon trade, Spain?s far-reaching commercial venture that began in the late sixteenth century, uniting Asia, the Americas and Europe in a globe-encircling trade for 250 years. During those years, Spanish Manila Galleons carried Chinese porcelain, its most precious commodity after silk, to Spain?s colonial empire and eventually to Europe. The trade constituted a tremendous enterprise, requiring the coordination of many people, many countries and many uncontrollable factors, the most significant, perhaps, being the weather. Danger from typhoons and hurricanes was a constant menace in the waters of the Pacific and the tropical waters around and beyond Mexico. Pirates, as the Spanish called the Dutch, English and Portuguese privateers, also constituted a considerable threat, especially in the eighteenth century. One should remember, however, that Spanish galleons were developed as warships, went heavily armed, and in spite of their seeming clumsiness, maneuvered well.

    The Manila Galleon trade was set up after the Atorna viaje, the return route for sailing ships from the Philippines to the harbor at Acapulco, was finally found. Its discovery has been credited to the expedition of L?pez de Legazpi in 1565 after five previous attempts by various other expeditions had failed. Ships from Mexico could reach the Philippines fairly easily by sailing south from Acapulco ten degrees to catch the Westerlies, a band of fairly steady, west-moving winds that propelled the ships across the Pacific in two or three months. But once in the Philippines, they couldn?t get back. The difficulty was wind.

    What the sailing ships needed was the Easterlies, a band of east-moving winds that lay far to the north of the Philippines off the north coast of Japan. A number of explorations failed to find them. However, Legazpi?s pilot, an elderly Augustinian named Andr?s de Urdaneta, had been commanded by the king to leave his quiet monastery in Mexico and guide the expedition because of his long years of experience in the Pacific. He directed Legazpi north beyond Japan to latitudes 38 and 39 degrees. There, filling their sails with the Easterlies, they returned to home port safely in Acapulco, aided also by the Japan current in the northern Pacific.

    Over thirty ships were lost during the 250 years of the Manila Galleon trade due to one cause or another. Both east and west-bound voyages were risky, but the east-bound voyage was the longest and more dangerous. Because they left Manila so heavily loaded, the galleons struggled to survive the rough weather and treacherous waters of the Philippine archipelago; but once free of the islands, sailing was easier. In addition to food shortages, created by filling every available inch with merchandise instead of provisions, disease and weakness usually killed a percentage of the passengers or crew. Space was very limited and living conditions cramped and miserable during the four to six months voyage from Manila to Acapulco. Horror stories were plentiful, and yet, people clamored for passage. One to three or four galleons a year sailed from Manila in the beginning of the trade, but later, usually one, sometimes two, made the annual voyage. The first Manila Galleon sailed from the Philippines in 1573 and the last in 1815, a royal decree bringing the Manila Galleon trade to a close.

    Once the return route was discovered, the most hazardous, harrowing voyage in the history of sailing was established, carrying the luxury goods of Asia from Manila to Mexico. In Acapulco, the merchandise destined for Spain was mounted on mules and carried overland to Mexico?s east coast port, Veracruz. There, together with silver from the northern Mexican mines, it was loaded on the ships of the flota (as this fleet for the eastern portion of the voyage was called) and sent to Havana where the Veracruz ships waited for the silver ships from South America. From Havana the heavily guarded ships (galleons were primarily warships), sailed for Spain.

    From the beginning, the Manila Galleon trade was dominated by the Chinese. In the early 1570s the Spanish had rescued a sinking Chinese junk from the waters of Mindoro and had treated the crew with humanity. The word spread throughout the trading community of China and by 1576 trade agreements had been reached by which Chinese junks would come to Manila from Canton and Amoy during the season of favorable winds with merchandise garnered from all over East Asia. Most years 50-60 junks sailed the 650-700 miles to Manila, taking from 15 to 20 days. Chinese resident merchants were established in an area of the city called the Pari?n where their warehouses were located, and here the buying and bargaining took place. Space for cargo on a galleon was (ideally) sold to registered Philippine citizens (it required eight years residence to qualify), allowing them to obtain boletas or shipping licenses to consign goods on the galleon. Their rights to the space could also be sold. Every inch of space was accounted for and recorded, but in actual practice, in spite of royal decrees and numerous rules and regulations, there was much smuggling and juggling of cargo.

    Upon reaching Acapulco, the galleons? cargo was carefully inventoried by royal accountants and a feria was held to which merchants flocked to buy and barter for the rich goods. Silk, porcelain, lacquerware, manufactured goods, fine furniture, iron tools and implements, gems, pearls, textiles of all descriptions, sandalwood, trinkets, and many other items over the years raised the colonials? standard of living to considerable heights of opulence which were maintained throughout the colonial period. In addition to the local market, an allotted portion of the goods was sent overland to Veracruz for the European market.

    The Spanish would have been very desirous of obtaining Chinese porcelain; it was almost unknown in Europe in the sixteenth century, except for the few pieces that would have reached there via the overland silk roads. Europe had no tableware that could match Chinese porcelain for delicacy and beauty. Its best tableware was a maiolica, an earthenware fired with a lead/tin glaze. Similar ware was made in Mexico, but porcelain was rare in Europe until the Manila Galleon trade.

    The precious merchandise, the luxury goods of the East managed by the Chinese residents of Manila, was paid for in silver, usually in silver coins, brought to the Philippines on the silver ships from Mexico. Although Spain deplored the loss of so much silver, never to be seen again once it had disappeared into Chinese coffers, the silver drain continued until the end of the Manila Galleon trade. Mexico is credited with having introduced into world commerce the first international currency, as the numismatists call the eighteenth-century Mexican peso, and the silver coinage from Spanish America circulated throughout the East and into Europe well into the twentieth century. Chinese merchants in the later years of the trade often stamped the peso with markers to indicate their validation of its silver content.

    Although most of the literature in English regarding the Manila Galleon trade refers to the ships as Manila Galleons, the ships were known by other names in countries, which were associated with them. Many of the ships were built in Cavite on the fine harbor in Manila Bay, where the work force, composed of Chinese and Malay workmen, labored on construction and repairs. The hardwoods of the islands provided excellent materials, and the cotton cloth of the province of Ilocos proved to make the best sails. However, some of the galleons were made in different parts of the islands and some in Mexico, where it was discovered that several of the trees in Central America could provide lumber that was impervious to the shipworm that infested tropical waters. The cost of the galleons was borne by the Spanish royal treasury. With several exceptions, attempts at persuading the king to allow private ownership of the galleons came to nothing.

    There are very few documents extant from the sixteenth century that give details of construction of the galleons or suggest anything more than an overall design of the ships. They were built with a high forecastle and poop and looked awkward, but their apparent top-heaviness was offset by an unusual breadth of beam. The half-moon appearance was deceptively clumsy. The Spanish, who developed the ship in response to a need for a well-armed vessel that could carry merchandise and still defend itself in American waters, kept plans well-concealed. It was not until the English had captured a galleon that its structural secrets became available. The British altered the galleon structure into what is called the racing galleon. Credited to Hawkins and Drake, it was longer, lower and slimmer, and it could out-maneuver the older-type Spanish galleon, if it could find one.

    In view of the fact that the Manila Galleon trade was so long-lasting and colorful in its history and associated intrigues, it is odd that so few articles or books has been written about it in English popular literature. The standard reference, written by William L. Schurz in 1949, is out-of-print and hard to find. An edition published by the Historical Conservation Society of Manila in 1985 may be obtained by writing the exclusive distributor: Casalinda Bookshop, Second floor, San Antonio Plaza, Fisher Park, Makati, Metro Manila.

  6. #6

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Hi Cornelius

    Sorry I have no info on those wrecks, I spent most of my time on a few Indian Ocean wrecks and have only recently moved to Xiamen so hence my interest in Chinese Wrecks.


    Michael Collins

  7. #7
    Author: Shipwrecks & Sunken Treasure In Southeast Asia

    Sep 2005
    Oceanside, CA
    12 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Welcome to Xiamen City. I was there a couple months ago and it's really nice. I think China is trying to make it equivalent to Hong Kong.

    Anyway, like one of the other guys mentioned, China has been sea trading for hundred (if not thousands) of years so it's guaranteed to have tons of wrecks there along the coast lines! Unfortunately, it's not easy to find wreck info on China but one source of wrecks off of China to perhaps get you started is a book I've written titled, Shipwrecks & Sunken Treasure In Southeast Asia. There in the CHINA section you will find 36 wrecks listed (before 1899) and another two listed in the North China Sea.

    One very HOT spot for wrecks was the Pratas Shoal. It is located in the South China Sea pretty much directly between Hong Kong and Manila, Philippines. Currently it is being 'claimed' by both China and Taiwan. Anyway, it is a shoal which is 2 1/2 miles diameter, surrounded by deep water and hidden just underwater at high tide. In my book I have 21 wrecks listed on this shoal alone (1609 thru 1869) so no telling HOW MANY hit and sank there without leaving any records. I can tell you now that if anyone could obtain a legal license to salvage wrecks on and around Pratas Shoals that this would turn out to be a GOLD MINE!

    If interested please go to my new web site and click on the ABOUT page to see where you can order Shipwrecks & Sunken Treasure In Southeast Asia. If anyone is interested in Bronze Asian and European Cannons my new book, CANNON JOURNAL - Compilation of Info on Bronze Asian and European Type Cannons (1500 - 1800's) is also reference material and for sale there.

    Good luck to you!
    Tony Wells

  8. #8

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Here is some more info of his Zhen's voyage, a preview from Gavin Menzis book 1421 The Year China Discovered the World

    In october 1421, when the fleets of hong bao and zhou Man had sailed south-west from the entrance to the Caribbean towards the coast of South America, they had left the fleet of Admiral Zhou Wen taking a course to the north-west following the northern branch of the equatorial current. I already knew that this fleet must have later reached the Azores, at the latitude of Beijing, for the islands appear on the Kangnido map, drawn before the first Europeans discovered those islands. My task was now to find where Zhou Wen had sailed between those two landfalls.

    When Admiral Zhou Wen reached the Cape Verde Islands he had already sailed across a substantial part of the globe and must have known that the mysterious land of Fusang lay to the west of him. By the time of the great cartographer Chu Ssu Pen (1273-1337), the Chinese had made an accurate estimate of the distance from the Pacific to the Atlantic, but how far to the west Zhou Wen thought Fusang lay would depend on how far he considered he had already sailed. The Kangnido shows that, because of the effects of the ocean currents, the Chinese fleets had underestimated their voyage across the 'bulge' of Africa by a couple of thousand miles. As he lay at anchor at Santo Ant?o in the Cape Verde Islands, Zhou Wen might well have assumed that Fusang lay four thousand rather than two thousand miles to the west of him, but that was still well within his range, without the need for fresh provisions or water en route.

    North of the equator, the Atlantic is a vast oval-shaped wind and current system rotating clockwise day in, day out, throughout the year. British Admiralty sailing directions advise mariners on how to make use of these winds and currents: 'From Madeira the best track is to pass just west of, but in sight of, the Cape Verde Archipelago . . . from Cape Verde steer a direct course [for the Caribbean] . . . thereafter . . . the north equatorial current and south equatorial current converge, forming a broad band of current setting west. Average rates reach 2 knots.' From the Cape Verde Islands they carry the mariner due west to the Caribbean, then north-west towards Florida and north up the American seaboard before taking him clockwise to the east, where the current becomes the Gulf Stream carrying the mariner across the Atlantic to the Azores, a thousand miles west of Portugal. It then hooks southwards, back once again to the Cape Verde Islands. The commander of a ship with sufficient provisions can hoist sail off the Cape Verde Islands and sit back and do nothing. Provided he is not capsized by a storm, a common occurrence in the North Atlantic, he will eventually end up more or less where he started.

    The westerly current from the Cape Verde Islands reaches its strongest flow when approaching the Caribbean at the latitude of the island of Dominica. As a result, explorer after explorer down the centuries - Columbus on his second voyage, the Spanish explorers Rodrigo de Bastida and Juan de la Cosa in the early years of the sixteenth century, the French and English fleets during the Napoleonic Wars - has entered the Caribbean through the passage between Dominica and Guadeloupe. I would put the likelihood as high as 80 per cent that if, having replenished with fruit and fresh water, the Chinese had sailed from the Cape Verde Islands in October they would have been entering the Caribbean by early November.

    The track of the junks of Admiral Zhou Wen's fleet through the Caribbean should logically have been the same as that of Columbus, for the winds and tides have remained unaltered from that day to this. Whatever the Chinese discovered should have been rediscovered by Columbus seventy years later. By examining Columbus's diaries of his second voyage, I should be able to reconstruct the most likely track. If the Chinese had found any islands or land on their voyage across the North Atlantic, I could expect those discoveries to be recorded on charts drawn after they returned to China in 1423. Just as I had done for South America and Australia, I now began to search for a chart that, like the Piri Reis and Jean Rotz maps, appeared to depict lands Europeans had yet to discover.

    In that era, Venice, the base of Fra Mauro, the Venetian cartographer working for the Portuguese government, led the West in mapmaking. As I expected, Venetian and Catalan charts (Catalonia was then part of the Kingdom of Aragon; the Catalans were redoubtable seafarers) drawn before 1423 disclosed nothing new in the western Atlantic, but a chart dated 1424 and signed by the Venetian cartographer Zuane Pizzigano was an entirely different matter. The Pizzigano chart was rediscovered some seventy years ago and in the early 1950s it was sold to the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. Its authenticity and provenance have never been questioned and several books have been written about it by distinguished historians.

    [The 1424 chart] is a document of capital importance to the history of geography. From the historical point of view, it is undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, precious jewel yielded by the disclosure of the almost unknown treasures contained in the unique collection of early manuscripts assembled by Sir Thomas Phillips during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century. The great importance of this chart lies in the fact that it is the first to represent a group of four islands in the western Atlantic, called Saya, Satanazes, Antilia and Ymana . . . there are many and good reasons for concluding that the Antilia group of four islands shown for the first time in the 1424 chart should be regarded as the earliest cartographic representation of any American lands.

    This was high praise indeed. I made a close study of the chart (see Introduction). It is markedly different from its contemporaries. It is not centred on the Mediterranean, as earlier charts were, but looks westwards across the Atlantic, where two large islands, Antilia and Satanazes, hitherto unknown to Europeans, are depicted. Two smaller islands are also shown: Saya, a parabolic island to the south of Satanazes, and the box-shaped island of Ymana to the north of Antilia.

    Other accounts of the era put the islands '700 large leagues' west of the Canaries, which would put them near the Bahamas, but no large islands are located there. Were the islands imaginary? Other chartmakers clearly believed they were genuine, for the group was subsequently represented on at least nineteen fifteenth-century maps and two globes, all of them drawn before Columbus set sail (see chapter 17). But as time went by, successive cartographers relocated the islands further and further to the south-west, until they ended up in the Netherlands Antilles.

    The Portuguese names on the chart had made me presume that they were the original cartographers, but the names on the Piri Reis and the Jean Rotz charts were also in Portuguese and they could not possibly have been the discoverers of the Antarctic, Patagonia or Australia. Portuguese records in the Torre do Tombo, the National Archives of Portugal in Lisbon, state unequivocally that Henry the Navigator sent caravels to discover Antilia after he had received a similar but slightly later chart (the 1428 World Map discussed in chapter 4). Moreover, in 1424 the Portuguese simply did not have the capacity to survey the islands with such accuracy - for the carto-graphy of Antilia was amazingly good. I concluded that it could only have been the Chinese. However, I needed further proof that this was the case, and I found once again that the best way of tackling this puzzle was to put myself in the cartographers' shoes. When in submarines, we used to spend time in the Barents Sea photographing military installations. Part of our training was in periscope photography and the obscure art of constructing charts from near sea level. At the time I was working from about the same height as the cartographers of the Pizzigano chart, standing on the deck of a medieval ship.

    As Zhou Wen's ships approached the Caribbean, they would have had warning some two days out that they would shortly sight land. Clouds, winds, weather and sea-bird types would all change, and finally, a few hours before the islands became visible, the crew would have begun to detect the soft, subtle smell of wet foliage. Because Columbus sailed through the Dominica Passage on a Sunday, he named the island to the south Dominica, the Spanish name for that day of the week; that to the north was named Marie-Galante after his flagship. He first landed at Marie-Galante but found little and pushed on northwards with the current, landing the next day at an island he named Guadeloupe in memory of his visit to a monastery of that name in Extremadura in Spain. Had they known, the monks might have raised objections to his choice of name, for the inhabitants of the island were Carib cannibals. Dr Chanca, a chronicler of Columbus's second voyage, recorded his men striding through the soft sand into the coconut groves where they found 'houses, about 30, built with logs or poles interwoven with branches and huge reeds and thatched . . . with palm . . . square and cottage like . . . For dishes [they use] calabashes [a gourd] . . . and, oh horrors!, human skulls for drinking vessels.' Only women were left in the villages; the native men had fled to the hills in terror at the sight of the sails of Columbus's fleet.

    The stench of bodies horrified Columbus's men. 'Limbs of human bodies hung up in houses as if curing for provisions; the head of a youth so recently severed from the body that the blood was yet dripping from it, and parts of his body were roasting before the fire, along with savoury flesh of geese and parrots.' The natives used arrow-heads made from human bones, and in their attacks upon the neighbouring islands, these people capture as many of the women as they can, especially those who are young and beautiful, and keep them as concubines . . . they eat the children which they bear to them . . . Such of their male enemies as they can take alive they bring to their houses to make a feast of them, and those who are killed they devour at once. They say that man's flesh is so good, that there is nothing like it in the world . . . in one of the houses we found the neck of a man undergoing the process of cooking in a pot. When they take any boys prisoners, they dismember [castrate] them and make use of them until they grow up to manhood, and then when they wish to make a feast they kill and eat them, for they say that the flesh of boys and women is good to eat. Three of these boys came fleeing to us, thus mutilated.

    Another contemporary writer noted that it was 'their custom to dismember the male children and young slaves, whom they capture and fatten like capons'.

    To fifteenth-century eyes, the cannibalism Columbus encountered could easily have been seen as the work of the devil. Could that be the explanation of the name Satanazes - Satan's Island? Was this what the Chinese had found, and was Guadeloupe the Satanazes shown on the Pizzigano chart? If so, like Columbus seventy years later, the Chinese would have approached the island from the south-east on the prevailing wind and current.

    I turned my attention to the island of Saya lying to the south-east of Satanazes on the Pizzigano chart. I could vividly picture the scene as the Chinese approached because I spent some time in the Caribbean in command of the submarine HMS Rorqual and had visited and photographed many of the islands. In many cases the mountains appear black, surrounded by green jungle. Heavy rainstorms occur without warning, blotting out the islands. Frequently, birds take flight just before the rains arrive, circling in flocks, shrieking with foreboding.

    As soon as I consulted a modern map, I saw that Saya on the Pizzigano map corresponded to Les Saintes. It is approximately the same shape and lies in the same position relative to Guadeloupe as Saya to Satanazes. I assumed that Saya was indeed Les Saintes, Satanazes was Guadeloupe and, based on my calculations of their course and speed, that the Chinese had arrived off the islands in November 1421. Given the maximum height of Les Saintes (about a thousand feet) and the height of eye of a seaman on the deck of a Chinese junk, I estimated that they would have seen the island from twenty-five miles away, while still in the Dominica Passage. From that position they should also have seen the plateau island of Marie-Galante ten miles north of them and the mountainous Dominica ten miles to the south, yet neither was recorded on the chart. I made the obvious deduction that they had passed through the passage in darkness with no moon. When I checked the records, I discovered that the new moon occurred on 25 November 1421, so I took it that they had probably approached Les Saintes from the south-east around dawn, possibly on 26 November 1421.

    Les Saintes is composed of two large islands, Terre de Basse and Terre de Haut, and three smaller ones, La Coche and Grand Ilet in the south, and Ilet a Cabrit in the north. The big islands are much higher than the smaller ones and, approached from the south-east, the lower Grand Ilet and La Coche would merge with the taller islands in the background and appear to form a single block of land. The south coast would appear as a single parabolic island, just as it is drawn on the Pizzigano chart. Knowing the height from which they had surveyed it - the deck level of a treasure ship ? I could now make an estimate to within two miles of the location from where Saya was charted.

    What else would the Chinese have seen from this position? Just what Columbus saw from the same spot seven decades later: 'Dawn reveals a most romantic landscape. A volcanic peak rises to an immense height, and cataracts pouring down its sides appear like water falling out of heaven . . . Flights of brightly coloured noisy parrots and other brilliant tropical birds are winging their way from one island to another and the wind of the land is laden with sweet odours.' The 'volcanic peak' is La Souffri?re on Guadeloupe, eighteen miles to the north-west. La Souffri?re is well inland, its peak frequently shrouded by clouds and heavy rain, and seven rivers pour down its eastern side, the most spectacular among them the 120-metre Karukera Falls. The Chinese junks would have been at sea for at least three weeks, and I am sure the chance to take on water would not have been spurned. They would have altered course for the cataracts.

    I turned to the words con and ymana marked on Satanazes on the Pizzigano chart. My first attempt to solve the riddle of these names was to recruit an expert at crosswords, who came up with con as a shell, conical mountain or volcano ? interesting, but not much help. Then Professor Joăo Camilo dos Santos, an expert in medieval Portuguese attached to the Portuguese Embassy in London, translated these words for me as 'a volcano' (con) 'erupts there' (ymana). The description was highly significant. Transposing the location of these words on the Pizzigano chart onto the corresponding modern map placed them directly above the volcanoes of La Souffri?re, La Citerne and L'Echelle. Had these volcanoes erupted in 1421? The Smithsonian Institution confirmed there were two eruptions of the three volcanoes between 1400 and 1440; the dates, calculated by radio carbon-dating, cannot be determined more precisely.10 There were no further eruptions from these volcanoes for another 250 years, and no eruptions of other volcanoes in the Caribbean during the whole of the fifteenth century.11 Since the Pizzigano chart can only have recorded an eruption of the volcanoes on southern Guadeloupe, I had first-hand evidence that a cartographer had been in the Caribbean no later than 1424, sixty-eight years before Columbus.

    There are some anomalies in the map, but they are easily explicable when one retraces the route the ships must have taken. As the Chinese junks headed for the waterfalls on Guadeloupe, they would have had to sail closer and closer to Les Saintes, for all the time the current was pushing them westwards. As they passed the north-east tip of Les Saintes, the cartographer drew Baie du Marigot from half a mile away with the morning sun behind him. Because this bay was so close and so well lit, its size was somewhat exaggerated on the Pizzigano chart. As the junks neared land, the cartographer drew two further bays on the north coast of Saya. The third, Passe du Pain du Sucre, was drawn from a distance of seven miles, much further away than the first drawing, and it was now nearly noon (assuming their speed through the water was 4.8 knots) so the sun was in the cartographer's eyes. The combination of the position of the sun and the greater distance resulted in the third bay being drawn smaller than it should have been. To check that my conclusions were accurate, I showed the chart and my navigational workings to a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, like myself a professional navigator. He was also convinced that Saya is Les Saintes; it is drawn precisely as it would have been seen from sea level when approaching from the south-east.

    Having calculated the time of day at which the cartographer drew Les Saintes, I was able to estimate with some certainty that by noon the junks had landed in the Baie de Grande Anse on southern Guadeloupe. I could imagine them replenishing their fresh water supplies against a backdrop of white, purple and blue hibiscus and orchids ('the wind of the land is laden with sweet odours'). Cassava, peppers and yuccas were there for the taking. The sea is a kaleidoscope of fish, crabs bask on exposed coral and crayfish are abundant. I could visualize the mariners gambolling in the surf before they feasted, washed their clothes and stocked their ships with fruit. How delightful it must have been to swim in the warm water after being at sea for nearly a month. It used to be my practice when in command of HMS Rorqual to anchor off an inhabited bay and send the sailors ashore in the inflatable dinghies we carried. It always proved a popular excursion - a swim in the sea, followed by rum toddies and roast lobster.

    In the eastern Caribbean, an offshore breeze usually springs up as the land cools in the early evening. The Chinese had landed on an exposed Atlantic shore and would have had to find a sheltered anchorage for the night. Two hours' sailing up the east coast would have brought them to a secluded anchorage between two coral islands in the southern part of Baie de Sainte Marie. My assumption was that the Chinese had landed, watered and anchored at precisely the same spot Columbus found seventy years later, and the French and English fleets centuries after that. At first sight that may seem an incredible proposition: why should ships of so many different nations over several centuries all end up at the same spot on a remote Caribbean island thousands of miles from home? They did so because they were all subject to the same natural forces.

    The clockwise movement of current and winds drew Zhou Wen's fleet from the Cape Verde Islands to a latitude of 18? N, where the equatorial currents converged to sweep them towards the Dominica Passage. As they entered the Caribbean, they were greeted by the magnificent volcano of La Souffri?re in Guadeloupe with its cataracts of 'water falling out of heaven'. After watering on the Atlantic shore they needed to find shelter for the night; their anchorage was the nearest sheltered bay to the waterfalls. What they did not know was that this seeming paradise was 'satan's Island' - Satanazes - populated by cannibalistic Carib tribesmen. Guadeloupe was the Caribs' principal lair in the Caribbean, and they were skilful hunters of men, even when swimming. I spent a day in the British Library poring over Columbus's journal of his second voyage, which includes a description of a Carib attack on his fleet: 'These Caribs can fight about as well in water as in their canoe . . . the Spaniard dies in consequence.' After a Spanish sailor was killed, Columbus retaliated, and one of the Caribs had his belly slit open. His intestines were floating on the sea but, according to the Spanish accounts, the wounded Carib pushed them back inside his stomach with one hand while still firing arrows with the other.

    On that gruesome note, I decided to end my researches for the day, but as I was making my way home that evening, it occurred to me that if the Chinese had landed on the island, they must have been attacked by the Caribs, just as Columbus was. Might there be some record or legacy of that landing? When I went back to the British Library to look again at the account of Columbus's second voyage, I made another extraordinary discovery as I read the following passage:

    In one house they find what seems to be an iron pot . . . but here is a curiosity amongst savages - the stern post of a vessel. This must have drifted across the ocean from some civilized country. Perhaps, it is a part of the wreck of the Santa Mar?a. Now all stand aghast at the sight of a pile of human bones - probably the remains of many an unnatural repast.

    Iron is not found on the Caribbean islands, nor indeed in Central America. The islanders used hollowed-out tree trunks for their boats, and they did not build them with stern posts, a sophisticated design. Stern posts had been in use in China since the first century ad; they did not reach Europe until the fourteenth century. Columbus's Santa Mar?a was wrecked off the north coast of Haiti, far away to the north-west of Guadeloupe, and the Gulf Stream would have carried flotsam from that wreck in precisely the opposite direction, north-west towards New England. I strongly suspected that the stern post came from a junk and the iron pot was one brought by the Chinese.

    The Chinese would have put to sea to escape the Caribs, just as Columbus's fleet did. When safe in open water, three miles offshore, they would have rounded the southern tip of Guadeloupe and sailed before the wind up the west coast where they charted the headland of Vieux Habitants, the Bay of Anse de la Barque and the Bay of Deshaies. By the next evening they would have been sailing into the bay now known as Le Grand cul de sac Marin, and from there the cartographer drew what he could see of Grande Terre, the eastern island of Guadeloupe. It is a low-lying island, rising from fifty metres near the shore to no more than a hundred metres further inland. By this stage it would have been after dusk and Grande Terre would have appeared as no more than a hazy blur. The cartographer probably saw little of it, and never properly charted it. The Chinese then set sail once more before the wind and current, heading north-westwards across the Caribbean, probably making for 39?53'N, the latitude of modern Atlantic City, New Jersey, but also of Beijing, and another obvious reference point for the Chinese fleets to have chosen.

    The cartographer had charted Les Saintes as he saw it from sea level, and placed it in the correct position relative to the western island of Guadeloupe, Basse Terre. He had accurately charted the east, south and west coasts of Basse Terre and Le Grand cul de sac Marin, placing the bays and rivers in their correct position, and had described the volcano La Souffri?re and its sisters erupting. The chances of finding another island with erupting volcanoes, coupled with the same-shaped islands in the south and the bay in the north, are nil; there cannot be the slightest doubt that Satanazes is Guadeloupe (Basse Terre) and Saya is Les Saintes. Knowing Basse Terre's true size, I could adjust Satanazes' size to true, and as the Pizzigano chart gave Antilia's size and orientation in relation to Satanazes, I could also calculate the true size and orientation of Antilia. The Pizzigano chart also showed the relative positions of and distance between Satanazes and Antilia. To find Antilia, all I had to do was look for an island 135 kilometres long by 50 kilometres wide, aligned east-west, and lying some six hundred kilometres west-north-west of Guadeloupe, once again in the track of the prevailing current and wind.

    I turned to a modern map to see if I could find a match for Antilia. The map revealed that Puerto Rico was in the correct position, had the true alignment and size, and lay directly on the route along which the wind and current would have swept the junks after they left Basse Terre. I compared the shape of Antilia on the Pizzigano chart with Puerto Rico. It was a very good match. I remember this still as a tremendous breakthrough. Overwhelmed by the importance of what I had discovered, I wandered off into the night in search of a celebratory drink.

    I returned to the British Library early the next morning worried that tiredness and elation might have caused me to misread the evidence, but a comparison of a large-scale modern-day map of Puerto Rico with Antilia on the Pizzigano chart at once removed any residual uncertainties. There are striking similarities, particularly the overall shape and the bays of Guayanilla, San Juan and Mayaguez. Save for the south-east tip, Antilia and its harbours fitted Puerto Rico like a glove. The standard of the cartography was astounding, way beyond what the Portuguese could have achieved in 1424.

    But the exaggerated south-east tip is easily explained. After leaving Guadeloupe, the winds and currents would have driven the Chinese to the north-west - the same track Columbus later followed - to a point sixty miles east of Puerto Rico. There, they would have sighted the menacing, anvil-shaped volcano El Yunque near the east coast and turned towards it for water. As they had done many times when surveying other islands during their voyages, the Chinese squadron would have been split in two, one sailing north and one south of Puerto Rico to chart both coasts simultaneously. Had they sighted the volcano in the evening, and if they were travelling at their average rate of 4.8 knots, they would have passed south of Vieques Island during the night. In the darkness they could not have seen that Vieques is a separate island, and accordingly drew it as part of the mainland of Antilia.14 The Pizzigano chart is also inscribed with the word ura - hurricane - near the east coast of Puerto Rico, a clear indication that Zhou Wen's fleet had been battered by a hurricane as it sailed away from the island. It would have been prudent of him to run before the storm on as few sails as possible so as to find anchor in a sheltered bay. This is consistent with the astonishingly precise cartography of the harbours on Puerto Rico's south, west and north coasts, drawn before Columbus had even been born.

    The storm-damaged Chinese fleet had completed its survey of Puerto Rico, and I could imagine the junks unfurling their great sails at the tail end of the hurricane and setting sail for the north from Puerto Rico towards the latitude of Beijing. If that theory was correct, there should have been evidence of their voyage at that latitude. I was confident that the Chinese had sailed to the North Atlantic, for the stone erected by Zheng He at Liu-Chia-Chang in south China after this epic sixth voyage states 'the countries beyond the horizon and at the ends of the earth have all become subjects and the most western of the western or the most northern of the northern countries, however far away they may be'. From a Chinese perspective, the most northern of the northern countries and the most western of the western could only be referring to the Atlantic coasts of North America, but as ever, my problem was that the mandarins had destroyed all records of the treasure fleets. Once again, I had to look for clues in maps and charts of the northern hemisphere drawn before the first Europeans reached the Americas. I had to find a counterpart to the Pizzigano chart.

    A world map popularly known as the Cantino came to my rescue. I had unearthed this extraordinary chart in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena, Italy, during my investigation into Zhou Man's visit to the Americas. It was drawn by an anonymous Portuguese cartographer and surreptitiously obtained by Alberto Cantino, the agent of the Duke Ercoli d'Este of Ferrara. The Cantino's provenance and credibility have never been questioned, and there is firm evidence for dating its acquisition to October 1502. The Chinese fleet had to sail before the wind and current; after leaving Puerto Rico, it would have been blown north-west towards Hispaniola and Cuba, and then through the Caribbean to the coast of Florida. The Cantino indeed reflects this, for it shows Hispaniola, Cuba and many other islands in the Caribbean and off Florida, but though it portrays the coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean and its archipelagos of islands with extraordinary accuracy, at first glance its depiction of the Caribbean appears woefully inadequate. Many of the islands seem to bear little relation to their present sizes and shapes, and I was baffled as to why it was so much in error.

    I struggled to make sense of this for some considerable time; then, all at once, the answer came to me. Sea levels in 1421 were lower than they are today. Global warming has caused the polar ice to melt, causing sea levels to rise slowly but inexorably. The best estimate of the Proudman Oceanic Laboratory of Birkenhead in England is that they have risen over the past centuries by about one to two millimetres a year. Other reputable oceanographers put the rise a little higher, at an average of four millimetres a year. In the almost six centuries since 1421 it is safe to say that sea levels have risen between just under four and just under eight feet. For simplicity, I assumed that the overall rise had been one fathom, or six feet, roughly the midpoint of the range of estimates.

    The British Admiralty charts of the Caribbean enabled me to visualize a completely new picture of the region. In 1421, vast areas that today are submerged would have been either above water or with rocks and reefs showing as breaking water and shoals. The banks and reefs of the Great Bahama Bank, stretching south of Andros Island towards Cuba, would in 1421 have been above water down to the latitude of the Tropic of Cancer, and the numerous sand ridges today marked as 'almost uncovered' on the modern chart would also have been above water. To the Chinese cartographers, everything from Cayo Guajava in the middle of Cuba's north coast as far as the latitude of Miami would have appeared as one large low-lying island, an extension of Cuba.

    The prevailing wind and current would have driven the fleet along the north-east coast of Cuba, then due north to the east of Andros, up towards Grand Bahama. (Andros Island is a favourite submarine haunt, for there is a deep-water trench well to the east of the coast along which thousands of tons of nuclear submarine can hurtle at forty miles an hour in order to test its silence at depth and speed. Afterwards we would surface and relax under the palms on Andros beach, drinking Bacardi and Coke.) If the Chinese fleet had made the passage at night, they would never have seen any openings to the west and could only have drawn what appears on the Cantino. When I adjusted the modern chart to show everything to a depth of one fathom, many of the shallow lagoons between the Caribbean islands became dry land, and when I superimposed these adjustments onto the Cantino it was clear the Caribbean had been drawn with incredible accuracy, just as it would have appeared to mariners sailing through it on a following wind six centuries ago. Once again, it was extraordinarily good cartography.

    The question I now had to face head on was whether this mapping could have been carried out by Columbus, who had reached the Caribbean in 1492, ten years before the Cantino was acquired. A number of learned professors have slightly different interpretations on the location of his first landfall in the Caribbean, varying between Samana Cay and Cat Island, and on where he first landed on the coast of Cuba. Columbus was a poor cartographer. On his first voyage his calculations of latitude were twenty degrees out - he believed he was somewhere in Nova Scotia - and his longitude was a thousand miles in error. Even if Columbus had a secret, and rather better, cartographer aboard who could have accurately drawn the Caribbean islands shown on the Cantino during all four of Columbus's voyages, that still left hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean and islands shown on the Cantino that neither Columbus nor any other European explorer reached until twenty years after the chart was drawn. I concluded that the chart could not have been the product of any voyage by Columbus.

    Could it have been drawn by an unknown Portuguese or Spanish expedition? One has to look at the overall picture of the lands covered by the Piri Reis and the Cantino together. By 1501, when the source chart was obtained from Columbus's sailor, the maker of the Piri Reis map could accurately depict South America and Antarctica. By the next year, 1502, the Cantino was showing Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. To achieve the remarkable precision and wealth of detail of the Cantino and Piri Reis charts would have required at least thirty ships just to survey the Indian Ocean, let alone South America, Antarctica and Africa. Neither Portugal nor Spain could have sent so many huge fleets simultaneously to different quarters of the world. Only China had the ships, the resources and the expertise to have done so. Cartographers aboard the Chinese treasure fleets had to be the originators of these remarkable charts.

    By looking at the Caribbean islands charted on the Cantino, I could reconstruct the passage of the cartographers who had drawn them. To chart the islands, they had to see both coasts, and sailing always before the wind and current, square-rigged sailing ships had no opportunity of turning back for a second pass. To survey both coasts of an island required at least two ships, one either side of it. The way the charts are drawn, coupled with the prevailing winds and currents, leads me to believe that at least five squadrons of ships would have been needed to chart the Caribbean. By my best estimate, at least ten to twenty ships would have had to sail through the Caribbean to collect this mass of information in one pass. Assuming they were within sight of one another, working for ten hours a day, and travelling at an average speed of 4.8 knots, they would have charted fifteen thousand square miles per day and could have obtained the information in four to six weeks.

    Many of the islands are very low-lying, and to survey them with the accuracy shown the junks must have been within ten miles of each one, exposing themselves to horrific risks. To cross the Great Bahama Bank from Cuba to the east of Andros Island and inside the Berry Islands (all shown on the Cantino), the ships must have passed, frequently and at night, what the British Admiralty charts call 'numerous sand ridges almost uncovered', and 'numerous rocky heads'. In one small stretch of forty nautical miles, there are literally hundreds of rocks and reefs capable of ripping wooden hulls apart. That short distance must have been achieved at a terrible cost. I cannot conceive how they could have made that passage without losing ships. By the time the junks had crossed the Great Bahama Bank and reached the Berry Islands they would surely have been in desperate trouble, the internal compartments of many ships flooded. The calm, moonlit seas might well have been echoing with the cries of dying seamen.

    It was a sombre thought, but it also highlighted the fact that I was closing on my quarry. The charts told me exactly where to look. I had to search for traces of the wrecks of treasure ships within a few miles of the Berry Islands in the Florida Strait

  9. #9

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Gavin Menzies has an interesting web site with lots of info and resaerch tools check it out.

  10. #10

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    It seems that there is a lot opposition to the Admiral's voyage to the Americas and the following is taken from an opponent of Gavins book Bill Hartz, I only extracted the part refering to Bimini

    ?Bimini Road?

    Gavin begins chapter 12, ?The Treasure Fleet Runs Aground?, page 265, with the suggestion that blue-water sailors soon learn to tell the difference between shallow and deep water by the change in the pattern and length of waves, and their color and smell. Well and good. Of course the obvious question arises, after destroying at least 8 of his hypothetical 20 ships wasn?t it time for the fleet commander, Admiral Zhou Wen, to commit seppuku? After all weren?t these the same successful, knowledgeable, world wide sailors who could tell the depth of the water by wave action, sight and smell. Even in the middle of the darkest night, if they were competent, couldn?t they sense the wave action, smell the depth? And wouldn?t a fleet commander send at least a couple smaller ships ahead to scout unknown water, long before sailing his fleet onto the rocks? It is difficult to reconcile this sort of incompetent seamanship with the reputation of the Chinese fleet, and the olfactory skills Gavin attributes to them.

    Take a look at page 209. When the hypothetical west coast Chinese fleet sailed into the Gulf of Tehuantepec in Mexico, and found it too shallow to proceed, they turned back, to deeper water, according to Gavin. That fleet commander apparently had different mission and sailing instructions than the poor chap in the Bahamas, or perhaps he could just read the water better.

    At page 265 Gavin presents his hypothesis that 20 ships of the fleet sailed into shallow water in the Bahamas, hit rocks and reefs, which ripped open their wooden hulls, so they put in at Bimini Island. There they built ?Bimini road? with their ballast stones, some weighing fifteen tons, to facilitate pulling the ships up, out of the water for repairs.

    At page 268 Gavin writes of Dr. Mason Balantyne[sic]. ?His discovery, named the ?Bimini Road?, comprises two parallel lines of stones on the sand dunes of Bimini Bay running south-west towards the deep ocean ...?

    That is not correct. No part of the Bimini road is ?on the sand dunes?. The entire ?road? is under approximately 15 feet of water. It is not located at ?Bimini Bay?, where ever that may be, rather, about a half mile off Paradise Point, North Bimini Island. It does run south-west, but not ?towards the deep ocean?. It is more or less level and parallel to the beach, which also runs south-west.

    J. Manson Valentine received his BA from Yale in ?23, and his Ph.D. in ?28, in zoology, same place. In addition to his more prosaic work as a college lecturer, he was a much traveled explorer of the ruins of ancient civilizations. He wrote many papers about his findings, as well as collaborated with Charles Berlitz on The Bermuda Triangle and Without A Trace.

    On a snorkeling trip to Bimini, September 2,1968, he discovered the ?Bimini Road?. He went to his grave believing it was part of the sunken continent of Atlantis. See J. Manson Valentine, ?Underwater Archeology In the Bahamas?, Explorers Journal, Dec 1976, pp. 176 - 183. Interestingly, the article starts off with a drawing to scale of the Bimini Road, offshore near Paradise Point, North Bimini Island, and it clearly runs parallel to the beach. At page 178 he writes:

    ?... My personal feeling is that this whole fantastic complex represents the intelligent utilization, by ancient man, of materials provided by nature and appropriate for the creation of some sort of ceremonial center...Such majestic artifacts are incomprehensible to us - unless, of course, we have the temerity to consider extraterrestrial intervention and metaphysically generated energies.?

    At page 268 Gavin continues:

    ?In 1974, an American scientist, Dr. David Zink, led an expedition (the first of nine) to survey these mysterious stones. He produced overwhelming evidence the road was man-made ... The road is clearly visible from the air through the azure water. It runs straight as a die down into the depths a broad band of beige stone. After Dr. Zink?s expeditions, Jacques Cousteau surveyed the ?road? in detail for a television programme, and National Geographic has published several features. The road has been surveyed by a number of experts, and there is almost universal agreement that the structure is man-made.?

    That statement certainly sounds authoritative and final. Experts are mentioned: Dr. Zink, Jacques Cousteau, and National Geographic. For Zink and Cousteau the author even provides source citations. Let?s take a look at the sources cited.

    Dr. David D. Zink was not a scientist, rather a former English teacher, a Cayce fan, intrigued with megalithic [big rock] structures and with the origins of myths. He had a psychic named Carol Huffstickler do a reading of the site, and she determined the rocks were pillars of an ancient sacred temple, probably erected about 28,000 BC, by Atlanteans.

    Gavin cites two books by Zink. See The Ancient Stones Speak: A Journey To The Worlds Most Mysterious Megalithic Sites E.P.Dutton, 1979, NY. Pages 83-87 relate to Bimini. Also included in this publication by Zink are visits to Mystery Hill at North Salem, New Hampshire, Ponape in the Caroline Islands, Tongatabu in the Tonga Islands, Easter Islands, and other mysterious places.

    Dr. Zink starts with a drawing which shows the orientation of Bimini Island and the location of the ?road?, and a drawing of a typical joint pattern of the stones and a description of them.

    ?... Typically about three by four meters in size and about seventy centimeters thick. Ten to fifteen tons is their estimated average weight, although considerable variation in size exists ... (p.83).?

    An aerial photo of the beach and the nearby site is included. The ?road? is clearly marked, outlined by the author, the reversed ?J?, 600 meters long. The drawing and the photograph show the ?road? runs parallel to the beach. David Zink states his opinion that the rocks are sedimentary.

    ?... of a shell-hash cemented together in a marine environment and subsequently hardened by recrystallization (micritized). The blocks of this site may have been quarried from a homogeneous bed elsewhere and brought to Bimini or cut and shaped on or near the site...When we first ran fathometer profiles over the site, I found the ocean floor to be essentially level, not sloping (which is usually the case with beach rock formed in situ) ... (p.85)

    The other source by Dr. David D. Zink is The Stones of Atlantis (Prentice-Hall Inc.,1978, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.). The frontispiece is a drawing of Bimini Island, and ?Bimini Road? is well marked, and clearly runs parallel to the beach. In addition to the road he also mentions various megalithic sites around the world: the pyramids in Egypt; the great mendir at Locmariaquer in France; the Medicine Wheel in the Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming; Stonehenge; the controversial Mystery Hill megalithic site in New Hampshire; Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, and etc.

    Zink made detailed, stone by stone drawings of the road, including size, distances and angles, to locate all the stones, and, several of these drawings are included. He also mentions enlisting the help of Carol Huffstickler in 1974. At page 114 he writes:

    ?Carol?s first reading dated the Bimini site prior to Stonehenge, stating that Bimini was contemporary with the Atlantean culture and that it had been destroyed basically for the same reasons that Atlantis had perished: misuse of sexual energy and black magic...I began to look for a common denominator between the stories of Atlantis (and souls descending into matter only to be trapped) and extraterrestrial visits. Could these ultimately be reduced to different facets of now-forgotten ancient events on the planet?...?

    See page 269 and endnote 7 which refers to The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and the TV series In Search of...Atlantis ... At our neighborhood library we found The Cousteau Odyssey: Calypso?s Search for Atlantis , Copyright 1978 by The Cousteau Society, which we suspect contains similar if not the same basic material. This videocassette ( 117 minutes ) explores several possible Atlantis sites and also briefly visits Easter Island, and Coco Island, off the Costa Rican coast. About 12 minutes are spent in the Bahamas which includes perhaps 5 minutes with Dr. David Zink, described as ?historian and explorer?, answering questions from Philippe Cousteau, son of Jacques.

    As they approach the island in the Cousteau PBY the photography from the air shows clearly the Bimini ?road? lies parallel to the shore line.

    The narrator mentions the road is:

    ?... Six football fields long, in warm, shallow water, hardly fifteen feet deep ...

    ?... Those convinced that the road is the work of megalithic builders in prehistoric times argue that only a highly skilled human agency could have chiseled the square edges of these fifteen ton stones and assembled them as a pavement...nevertheless, core samples have shown that both the pavement and underlying rock are composed of the same consolidated limestone sediment ...?

    After some brief underwater scenes of the divers swimming around the rocks, and scaring away a poisonous rockfish, the only guardian of the stones, Philippe Cousteau and David Zink sit on the wing of the PBY and talk.

    pc: What do you think it is?

    dz: Well, I think it?s a megalithic site, which is big stones, the Greek word for big stones, such as the megalithic sites in Europe like Karnac, Stonehenge...They were a people that had some, I can?t say yet, but I suspect a people of some astronomical sophistication, a people who could by some means or other could handle 15 ton stones, were well organized enough to plan out a project and carry it out. Various people were in the area generally, but, but, this seems to relate to no known culture pattern. We encountered so many problems with various compasses here, underwater, we suspect some kind of energy pattern that?s affecting the magnetic field. I don?t know what it is, but, ah ...

    pc: But you have ruled out in your mind and you are sure yourself that this is not a natural formation?

    dz: That?s about all I?m sure about. My argument is essentially a morphological one, structure or pattern. In nature it is most unusual to have joints terminate abruptly. We would expect that if this were a natural formation of beach-rock formed in place here, we would expect it to have a little more substantial relationship to the bedrock, and as you saw it does not. There are often little stones supporting, having a space under. The horseshoe, of course, is opened to the northeast. You saw the extension which makes it into a horseshoe, taking it out of the reverse ?J?configuration and into more of a horseshoe or hairpin kind of opening to the northeast. [Pointing to his drawings of the rocks.] That?s where the fracture is and here?s where the transition is large stones, and five across. Fourteen stones here and five across here ...

    pc: But here we have six ...

    dz: Six following after five. I?m not claiming this is Atlantis but this is an interesting coincidence. Plato claimed that the Atlanteans honored every 5th and 6th year...

    pc: Do you think it is possible that Plato may have made it up entirely?

    dz: Anything is possible. But, well, in a time of difficulty, in a time of agony about the present and the future, it?s so easy to look to a golden age, you know. It?s comfortable psychologically, it?s a rationalization in short. Well, that?s one way to interpret it. But, there are other ways ...

    Gavin mentions National Geographic as a source, but neglects the citation. We found only one such source, an exploration supported by a grant made by the National Geographic Society in 1971. Mahlon M. Ball and John A. Gifford, ? Investigation of Submerged Beachrock Deposits off Bimini, Bahamas? National Geographic Research Reports vol.12 (1980): 21-38. A number of charts, photos and drawings are included. Gifford and Ball, of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, write:

    ?... Fieldwork was undertaken in September and October 1971 ... Petrographic thin sections were made of the rock and core samples to establish the types of rock units present and their original environment of deposition. These units were placed in an absolute time framework by relation to 12 carbon-14-dated samples and one sample dated by a uranium-thorium technique (Th-230/U-234), plus other available dates from Bimini (table1), thus giving an outline of the geologic history of North Bimini over the past 30,000 years. Specialized studies on the cements of some of the beachrock samples were undertaken by electron microprobe analysis and carbon-oxygen stable isotope ratio analysis; these results are available elsewhere (Gifford,1973) ...

    ?... This unique physiography produces unusual conditions for the deposition of sediments. Subtropical Atlantic water flowing along and over the Banks is supersaturated with calcium carbonate. This mineral is removed from the water over the Banks through organic and inorganic processes; it is the continual deposition of calcium carbonate sediment, and its cementation into rock, that account for the growth and form of the Bahama Banks themselves ...

    ?... The rise of sea level from 15,000 years B.P. to the present produced a succession of beaches that formed on the outer platform off the west coast of North Bimini as the shoreline transgressed eastward over the Great Bahama Bank. Along these transient beaches, deposits of beachrock formed and subsequently were submerged as the water over them deepened ...

    ?... Several thousand years later the shoreline migrated to a position approximately 1 kilometer north of the present Paradise Point. Here, over a period of perhaps 700 years, three successive beaches were the site of formation of three parallel, linear deposits of beachrock ...

    ?... As most authoritatively defined, beachrock refers to sediment lithified in the intertidal and sea spray zones, whether on high or low energy beaches, or even broad tidal flats and tidal channels? (Bricker, 1971, p.1). Lithification occurs at some depth below the surface of the unconsolidated beach, which then may be eroded away by shoreline retreat or sea level rise, leaving exposed strata of beachrock in the intertidal or nearshore zones ...

    ?... Beachrock is presently exposed in the modern intertidal zone along the west coast of South Bimini and of North Bimini; evidently it is forming there at a rate to be measured in decades or even years (Scoffin,1970) ...

    ?... As mentioned previously, the only characteristic of the submerged blocks off Paradise Point that might continue to suggest their human origin is the shape of the blocks themselves ...?

    As Gavin claims, Valentine and Zink did believe the ?Bimini Road? was man made. Well, not exactly man made, but made for the Atlanteans, perhaps by visitors from another galaxy, Pleions from Pleiades.

    Costueau doesn?t take a position in his Search for Atlantis, rather just gives Zink the opportunity to state his best case.

    The National Geographic Research Report makes it clear the ?road? is the result of a natural geologic process. And this report was done by real scientists, working within their area of competency.

    This is Gavin?s ?... overwhelming evidence the road was man-made (p. 268).?

    Gavin also wrote, ?The road has been surveyed by a number of different experts, and there is almost universal agreement that the structure is man-made (p. 269)?. However, he failed to list who else he might have had in mind, and he neglected to mentioned a number of real experts who have surveyed the site.

    W. Harrison, ? Atlantis Undiscovered-Bimini, Bahamas.? Nature. vol.230 [April 2, 1971]: 287-289 . A Virginia Beach based geologist, his survey includes a map locating the rocks off Paradise Point, North Bimini, and parallel to the beach. A figure 2 shows typical rock dimensions and arrangement. He concludes:

    ?... The rock was thus almost certainly lithified during the lower relative sea level of the Pleistocene ... The overall result is a field of blocks that at first sight appear to have been fitted together, and this has led to statements such as , ?[some] human agency must have been involved.? The blocky remains of the limestone outcrops are, however, no more enigmatic than other subaerial or subaqueous outcrop of jointed limestone found in various stages of fracture and decay in the north-western Bahamas.?

    E. A. Shinn. ?Atlantis: Bimini Hoax.? Sea Frontiers 24 ( June 1978 ): 130-141. Eugene A. Shinn, Ph.D., is a geologist with the US Geological Survey at St. Petersburg, Florida.

    Shinn briefly discusses the modern Atlantis cult that devolved from Plato?s mention of an ancient myth; Edgar Cayce?s influence in this affair; the ?Bermuda Triangle? nonsense; and the true believers suspension of critical thinking in their embrace of the Bimini beach rock, believing it a man made artifact and evidence of Atlantis, in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. He continues:

    ?... In the winter of 1976 (Peter) Tomkins, J. Harold Hudson, the author, and several Florida Institute of Technology students drilled through two 2 1/2 foot-thick blocks into the underlying bedrock and concluded that the blocks were composed of beach rock ...

    ?... The basic mechanism of beach-rock formation has been known since the days of Darwin ...

    ?... Because this form of cementation is restricted to the beach, it tends to produce ribbons or roadlike belts of rock parallel to the shore ...

    ?... It is not uncommon for exposed beach rock to fracture and break as it lies in the sun ... Such rock can be found on the beach throughout the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Pacific, and often has a fitted-together appearance similar to the underwater rocks off Bimini ... Rick Frehsee, a professional underwater photographer ... recently discovered beach-rock at Heron Island, Australia that is identical in appearance to the rocks at the Bimini site. The author has filmed and studied another group of ?fitted? beach-rock slabs in 1 to 5 feet of water at Hospital Key, Dry Tortugas ...

    ?... Much of the evidence was provided by x-ray photographs made from oriented rock cores ...

    ?... In the summer of 1977, on another trip to Bimini with Peter Tomkins, 17 4-inch-diameter cores were taken from adjacent blocks. First, a mark was made on the rock that corresponds to an east-west or seaward-shoreward direction. Then the rock was cored so that the permanent orientation mark was part of the core ... The cores were returned to Miami, where they were cut along the orientation lines and x-radiographed to make bedding visible ... The gradual decrease in pebble size from block to block, however, indicates that the blocks were once joined as a single ribbon of beach rock. If the blocks had been transported, one would expect abrupt changes in composition from block to block. Identical pebbles are present on the modern beach at Bimini, and gradual changes in pebble size can be noted there as one walks along the beach ...

    ?... The blocks were in place and had not been transported ....

    ?... First, it is well established that sea level has been rising since the last melting of the polar ice caps ... In Florida, where many such datings have been made, sea level is known to have risen about 1 inch every 40 years for the past 5,000 years ...

    ?... The second explanation for the present depth of the rocks is that wave action often scours sand away from beneath beach rock, thus allowing the rock to settle below its level of formation ... Close examination shows that the shoreline just opposite the site is still undergoing more extensive erosion than any other part of Bimini. Trees are falling into the water, and roots are exhumed in a vertical cliff, whereas other parts of the shoreline appear to be holding their own ...

    ?... What can now be said is that the supposedly man-made rocks are of natural origin; that they are more or less in their natural position relative to each other and to the shoreline; that the process that gave them their shape is natural; and that they formed about 2,200 years ago and are thus too young to be attributed to Atlanteans ...?

    Included in this report were a number of photos of the rocks at Bimini as the divers examined and drilled them and of the beach showing the rapid erosion caused by wave action; a photo of the beachrock at Heron Island; an x-ray photograph of a slice of a core sample; and a diagram showing the blocks from which the core samples were taken.

    Marshall McKusick. ?The Bimini Underwater Discoveries.? Explorers Journal (March 1980): 40-43. McKusick has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Yale, was state archaeologist for Iowa from 1960 to 1975, and more recently associate professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa. He writes:

    ?There is a moral to the story of my dive to see the ?Phoenician? ship off Bimini: archeological evidence is not often what it appears to be at first glance. Enthusiastic laymen are not trained to evaluate evidence and assess the crucial facts that a professional would observe ...

    ?The so-called underwater ?pavement? at Bimini Island was a disappointment...The ?pavement? is a long section of semi-rectangular fractures in what I supposed to be bedrock lying in shallow water. However, these regular fractures intergraded with more irregular sections which terminated in rubble. My own impression was that a long section gave the appearance of a pavement, but that the gradations to random and irregular cracks showed its origin ...

    ?The so-called ?paved road? stretches 1,800 feet offshore from nowhere and leads to nothing. It does not connect a former seaport with a harbor, or in any way have an observable purpose ...

    ?Despite all evidence to the contrary, enthusiastic amateurs are writing books claiming all sorts of mysterious ancient contacts with prehistoric America.? [And they still are.]

    Marshall McKusick and Eugene A. Shinn. ?Bahamian Atlantis reconsidered.? Nature 287

    (4 September 1980): 11-12.

    ?Nevertheless many amateur explorers have ignored the scientific explanation and books and articles that perpetuate this Atlantis myth continue to appear. It is our contention that the persistence of the Bimini Island hoax must be explained in sociological rather than geological terms. There is in the US a vigorous cult dedicated to the mystic revelations of native American prophet, Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), who wrote that lost Atlantis was the center of all ancient civilization 10,000 years ago and that Bimini was part of that continent. Thus the Bimini affair has become a clash between scientific interpretation and religious dogma ...

    ?... On the Bimini beaches the high calcium content of the seawater allows the rapid formation of natural limestone beachrock - a fact demonstrated by glass shards, bottle caps, and other beach litter incorporated into the stone. Similar rapid formation of limestone had been shown in coral atolls in the Pacific where World War II artifacts have been found in the matrix. Beachrock formed by the circulation and evaporation of calcium laden seawater has the following characteristics: (1) tabular fractures, (2) keystone vugs, (3) a surface slope and internal laminations which tend to parallel the beach incline, (4) stratigraphic continuation of sedimentary layers from one tabular block to another, and (5) an overall geometry which reflects tidal zone origin, that is, a narrow band frequently extending a mile or more along the sea front ....

    ?... A sample of 17 oriented cores obtained by Shinn and Tomkins has been examined with X-radiographs. Two areas of the formation were studied, and both show slope and uniform particle size, bedding planes and constant dip direction from one block to the next. If the stones had been quarried and relaid there is no reason to suppose bedding planes would carry stratigraphically from block to block. The sedimentary laminations clearly show that these were not randomly laid stones but a natural, relatively undisturbed formation ...

    ?... During the 1970?s an enormous number of books describing ancient Atlantean, Phoenician, Egyptian, Viking, and other mysterious visitors to prehistoric America have been published by both the major and minor New York commercial presses. This science fiction disguised as historical explanation is popular with the reading public and is part of a contemporary fad ...? [And it still is.]

    Andre Strasser and Eric Davaud ? Formation of Holocene Limestone Sequences by Progradation, Cementation, and Erosion: Two Examples From the Bahamas.? Journal of Sedimentary Petrology vol. 56, no. 3 (May 1986): 422-428. Included is a discussion of sedimentary structures and the cementation process. Drawings are provided to illustrate the process, and photos of the exposed beach rock at North Bimini and Joulter Cays. Although this report does not bear specifically on the ?Bimini road? rocks, it is mentioned as it illustrates the process, also occurring at nearby locations. Strasser and Davaud were with the Department of Geology and Paleontology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

    For information on another nearby Caribbean location where the beachrock formation process has been studied, see Clyde H. Moore, Jr. ?Intertidal Carbonate Cementation Grand Cayman, West Indies.? Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, vol., no. 3 (Sept 1973): 591-602. Moore was with the Department of Geology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Also see Peter J. Davies and D. W. Kinsey ?Organic and Inorganic Factors in Recent Beach Rock Formations, Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef.? Journal of Sedimentary Petrology Vol. 43. No.1 (March, 1973): 59-81.

    ?... Heron Island forms part of a small reef, situated in the Capricorn group of reefs, at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland...Beach rock occurs along the southern, northern and eastern beaches (fig.1). Along the southern intertidal zone, the beach rock is approximately 60 ft wide (fig. 7a), while much narrower strips occur along the northern and eastern beaches ...?

    This study is cited since Shinn(1978) included in his report a photo of the exposed beach rock formation there. It is another example of this natural geologic process, which may occur wherever the right conditions are present.

    Gavin packs a lot of nonsense into one short chapter attempting to support his fantasy the Chinese visited the Bahamas before they took a sharp right turn and sailed up the east coast of North America. His problem once again is the evidence does not support his dream. He is so desperate he attempts to shanghai the ?Bimini road? from the Cayce devotees, who know it is part of Atlantis, and won?t let go. Gavin swears it belongs to the Chinese, they built it to facilitate pulling their damaged ships up, out of the water for repairs.

    Never mind that it is more or less level, and parallel to the beach, just as we would expect for naturally formed beach rock; does not run ?down into the depths? as Gavin claims, and thus never would have accomplished its stated mission.

    Never mind that Gavin?s chosen ?experts? undermine his claim.

    Never mind that all the real experts say the road unquestionably is beach rock, formed by a well known, well documented geologic process

  11. #11

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Cornelius: Thanks for your scanned pages, they are very interesting. Would you be so kind to tell us which book its from?


  12. #12
    Aug 2005
    Warrenton, VA
    Garrett CX II/Sovereign SX-2a Pro/Quattro
    24 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Hola, Friends,
    I am really terrible at research (trying to learn ) but can anyone help me with Cornelius' reply number 7 above? Is there a book or site where I can learn more about these (possible) sand-covered ships?
    Does anyone know of an organized recovery effort on any of these sand-piles?

    Thanks for any help.
    The folks here just amaze me with your knowledge and unselfish help for all the newbiws.

    grizzly bare

  13. #13

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Thanks for the kind words Cornelius.

    As with most research in the shipwreck area it is a mixture of record, opinion and data interpretation by many people, rarely our own complete work and in most cases the more we find out the less we know. But it is very interesting along the way, and ultimately we form our own opinions on each subject. Most of mine have been wrong over the years or I would have found the mother lode by now. But its fun trying.

  14. #14

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Here's a little more as you seem interested in the mounds, I suggest you goggle the names in this text and follow wherever it leads you. There is so much data available it is difficult to view what is real and what is not but that's treasure hunting.


    Even though work on the Giza Plateau was suspended, expeditions to Bimini in search of the Hall of Records had been ongoing since the late 1950s. In 1957, aerial exploration was conducted by Joe Gouveia, a pilot and A.R.E. member who saw ?columns and blocks? during his flights. That news spurred further investigations by various researchers and A.R.E. members for the next 10 years.

    In 1974, David Zink, Ph.D., and explorer J. Manson Valentine performed the first formal survey of the Bimini road during their ?Poseidia ?75? project, and, a year later, Zink gathered divers, archaeologists, and geologists to study it. He concluded that, rather than a road, the structure was megalithic. ?Poseidia ?76,? which included scientist Douglas G. Richards, Ph.D., discovered magnetic anomalies. No proof was obtained, but further tantalizing discoveries abounded.

    In 1984, Richards, Marty Obando, and others employed satellite photos from Landsat 4 to continue their assessment of Bimini, and three years later, Richards hosted the ?Bimini: The Next Step? conference at A.R.E., which brought together many researchers who had been searching in Bimini for Atlantis over the years.

    ?That conference resulted in a plan for Bimini exploration that was imple- mented over the next 15 years,? Richards explained. ?I served as scientific officer on several research permits from the Bahamas government, for expeditions under the direction of Dr. Joan Hanley.?

    In 1989 Richards published an article, ?Archaeological Archaeological Anomalies in the Bahamas,? in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. The article discussed the various expeditions to the Bahamas in search of Atlantis. Richards also co-authored the book, Mysteries of Atlantis Revisited, Revisited, with Edgar Evans Cayce and Gail Cayce Schwartzer.

    In the late 1980s, Hanley and Richards worked together on further explorations around Bimini. In 1989, Hanley discovered a ?shark mound,? composed of sand, in a mangrove swamp, a 500-foot anomaly that still has not been excavated or professionally analyzed. In 1996, Don Dickinson, of the Law of One Foundation, funded some of the most advanced research to date: side sonar scanning in several areas, that revealed a host of rectangular and anomalous features in deep water. Members of the team believed that the features were man-made.

  15. #15

    May 2005
    8 times

    Re: China Shipwreck Research

    Hopefully the attachment worked

    Aerial view of so called "zoomorphic mounds" on North Bimini with shark figure in center of photograph. Accretionary sand spits and shoreline are visible in background. The feature in lower left is said to represent a whale
    Attached Images Attached Images  


Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Sponsored Links

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Search tags for this page

bimini shark mounds shipwreck
chinese treasure fleet and spain, portugal
chiness teasure ships in america

columbus guadeloupe shipwreck

consider the reach of chinese treasure fleet and the global impires that spain and portugal established
guayanilla phoenician hiayrglifics describing a voyage
how is menzies claim on the shark mounds wrong

shark, dolphin and alligator mound bimini mangrove swamps.

zhou wen ships bimini
zink bimini chinese
Click on a term to search for related topics.
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v4.3.0