Masters of Navigation
Before Christopher Columbus there was Zheng He. From 1405 to 1433 Zheng He led seven treasure fleets halfway around the world. From the eastern coast of China, the explorers sailed south through the Indian Ocean to the west coast of Africa.
The wooden treasure ships, called junks, were nine-masted vessels that were over 400 feet long and 180 feet wide. For the next 400 years, they were the largest wooden vessels in the world. Zheng He's fleet was said to have over 60 ships and a crew of 27,000 men. Despite the great successes of these voyages and the development of the greatest naval fleet in the world, Chinese emperors decided not to expand their lands and instead banned all overseas trade.
The voyages of Zheng He were possible because his junks were equipped with compasses, rudders, watertight compartments, and drainage pumps. His ability to navigate by stars also made the journeys successful. These Chinese inventions were incorporated into the vessels of Columbus and other European explorers, allowing them to sail great distances.
Zheng He's largest junks were five times larger than the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship.
Zheng He's expeditions took place more than 60 years before Columbus' journey to the New World. Zheng He sailed to Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Iran, Arabia, Mecca, Somalia, Kenya and the eastern coast of Africa. He kept a log and prepared detailed navigation maps of his sea routes.
Ming treasure voyages (Wikipedia). "The Ming treasure voyages were the seven maritime expeditions undertaken by Ming China's treasure fleet between 1405 and 1433. The Yongle Emperor started building the treasure fleet in 1403. The grand project resulted in seven far-reaching ocean voyages to the coastal territories and islands in and around the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and beyond. Admiral Zheng He was commissioned to command the treasure fleet for the expeditions. Six of the voyages occurred during the Yongle reign (r. 1402–24), while the seventh voyage occurred under the Xuande reign (r. 1425–1435). The first three voyages reached up to Calicut on India's Malabar Coast, while the fourth voyage went as far as Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Afterwards, the fleet made voyages to the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa." (Submitted on October 5, 2020.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Exploration • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 37° 48.003′ N, 122° 16.096′ W. Marker is in Oakland, California, in Alameda County. Marker is on 10th Street east of Harrison Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oakland CA 94607, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Chinese Junk Boat for Oakland (here, next to this marker); Oakland’s Chinatowns (a few steps from this marker); Asian Resource Center (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Site of College of California (approx. ¼ mile away); Alameda County Courthouses (approx. ¼ mile away); Oakland War Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); United Grocers (approx. 0.3 miles away); Autocar Sales (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oakland.
More about this marker. The marker is located on the foredeck of the play junk in Lincoln Square Park.
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 5, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 41 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 5, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.