February 03, 2010

Chinese Explorations Past and Present

A Chinese map that predates the first English settlement in what is now the United States shows the Gulf of Mexico and North America in amazing detail. Commissioned in 1602 by famous Ming court Jesuit Matteo Ricci the giant map (measuring 12x5 feet) was held for decades by private owners but is now on display in the USA Library of Congress. It was bought at auction in London for million$ by the James Ford Bell Trust (named for the founder of food giant General Mills) and will become part of the trust's collection in Minneapolis. The map combined Chinese and Western knowledge of the world's coastlines to create a comprehensive view of the world and China's position in it.

Flash forward to today where Chinese explorations of Earth's north and south poles are revealed in a new Atlas of the Artic and Antarctica. Beijing's Chinese Artic and Antarctic Administration guides numerous surveying expeditions. Just now the 26th Chinese Antarctic Expedition (CHINARE) concluded a trip to the south pole....


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