There have been few posts lately as the rivers come up and waterfalls seek my attention. However, I was given a copy of 1421 about how the Chinese likely mapped most of the world during this exploratory phase. I must say the whole idea has been fascinating on many levels.
One, it is amazing how supposedly concrete ideas can get turned over quite quickly. I think a lot of historians or archeologists are quite conservative in how they are taking these new ideas. Second, it is interesting to see how some of the rather fanciful phrases of explores can actually be taken quite literally. Obviously not everything is literal, but tales of some of the rich cities and such seem more plausible with Chinese colonization in North or South America.
Second, I think people often overlook how prevalent ocean going exploring is. I think the test of the reed boat that sailed from Africa to Brazil? exemplifies this thinking.
Third, I really get a kick how the lay public has brought to light so much information that conservative or reactionary academics are readily out of step with things that seem obvious. Of course academics have a right to be skeptical, after all they are trained not to jump to conclusions. However, the amount of new information that can be gleamed from a few such jumps (Like Menzies did) is pretty remarkable. I don't think scientific plodding would have stumbled upon this for quite some time.
All in all, in certainly puts a new spin in some of the things I will be looking at the next time I go through the book of mormon. Not that I imagine 1421 exploration having a part in the narrative, only that there are lots of possibilities that some may discredit, but may turn out to be quite reasonable later on. It is a fascinating read, especially if you like the idea of unexplored civilizations.