Gavin Menzies (1937- ) is a former submarine officer with the British Navy. He retired in 1970, a year after an incident in the Philipines in which the boat under his command collided with the USS Endurance. He followed this with a brief dalliance with British politics.
However, Menzies is best known as a controversial author beginning with 1421: The Year China Discovered the Worldand six years later 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance. His theories have been shown to be heavily flawed(a) and Menzies himself was accused of being either “a charlatan or a cretin” (b).
*The badarchaeology website has, understandably, also given a thumbs-down to Menzies work(l).*
In his book, 1421 , Menzies speculated that the Chinese fleet suffered damage during a storm and landed at Bimini where they used their large square ballast stones to build an emergency drydock, the remains of which is now the Bimini Road!
However, the idea of ancient Chinese in America was proposed as early as 1913, following discoveries(k) just 19 miles from Mexico City, speculatively dated to around 3000 BC! Similar claims have been made throughout the ensuing century, with John A Ruskamp Jnr. one of the most recent.
Another, well illustrated site(d), accuses Menzies of altering maps to suit his theory.
April 16th 2010 saw the inventive Mr. Menzies present his latest offering, The Lost Treasures of Atlantis, at the Royal Geographical Society in London before its formal publication in August. The title was later changed to The Lost Empire of Atlantis.
He argued that the Minoans discovered America 4,000 years ago and that an ancient trading empire had stretched from the North American Great Lakes to Kerala in India.
I should point out that Roger Jewell had previously identified a Minoan connection with the Michigan copper mines in a 2000 book.
Menzies bases his thesis on metallurgy, ancient shipbuilding and navigation techniques as well as DNA evidence. He focuses on the cargo found on the Uluburun shipwreck(c) found off the coast of Turkey and which is dated to the 14th century BC.
My principal reaction to his book was that he seemed to studiously avoid Plato’s text as a source of information. Perhaps, because much of what Plato said does not conform to Menzies’ imaginative theories. He identifies Thera as the location of the capital of Atlantis but he does not attempt to explain why Plato did not simply say so, since Thera was less than 150 miles from Athens and well known to the Athenians. Furthermore, Menzies places the ‘Pillars of Heracles’ at Gibraltar but then fails to explain how the Atlanteans could have attacked them from BEYOND the ‘Pillars’ if Atlantis was virtually on their doorstep on Crete.
He contends that the Minoans (Atlanteans) discovered America, exported vast quantities of copper from Michigan(g)via the Mississippi and after processing it at Poverty Point sent it to the Mediterranean to feed needs of the Bronze industries there. He attributes the building of astronomical stone circles in the Mediterranean as well as Spain, Brittany and the British Isles to the Minoan influence. However, none are found on Crete! It is understandable therefore that his book has received some very bad reviews(e)(f).
This is a speculative book about the Minoan civilisation and has little to do with Atlantis apart from the cynical use of its name on the cover. However, Menzies does have many followers(g), but Jason Colavito’s seven-part critique(h) of his book that should be compulsory reading for those fans.
In October 2013 Menzies returned to the subject of ancient sea voyages and in particular the very early visitors to the Americas in Who Discovered America? Judging by the first customer reviews(i) this offering promises to be as controversial as his previous books. Two of his specific claims are that transoceanic travel began 100,000 years ago and that the Chinese regularly began visiting America from 2200 BC!
Recently, in 2015, new evidence of early Chinese in America was found by John A. Ruskamp Jnr. in Albuquerque’s Petroglyph National Monument(j). Ruskamp has already identified 82 archaic Chinese petroglyph’s, many dated to the Shang dynasty circa 1042 BC.
(a) http://www.1421exposed.com/html/library_of_congress.html (link broken May 2018)
(d) http://www.dightonrock.com/thediscoveryofamericabychineseis-hi%20speed.htm (offline Mar. 2016)
(h) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2012/08/reviewing-gavin-menzies-atlantis-pt-1.html (just change part number)