Welcome to Ancient California – Gateway to Fu Shang
Bob Meistrell ran a scuba equipment shop in Palos Verdes. Along with Wayne Baldwin, he was indulging his passion for diving on a winter’s day in 1975, looking for lobsters and abalones to put on the barbeque back home. Although the fruits of the sea eluded them, their foray off the rocky reefs of the peninsula turned up something that would puzzle and enrage mainstream archaeology for years.
The artifacts soon came to the attention of James Moriarty III, a professor of history and archaeology at the University of San Diego. After five years of research, Moriarty and his associate Larry Pierson concluded that the stones were anchors from an ancient shipwreck, possibly dating back some 2000 years. The largest object eventually brought to the surface weighed almost half a ton, leading the researchers to surmise that the ship they had come from was in excess of 100 feet from stem to stern and may have carried a crew of 50 or more. Corresponding with scientists in southeast Asia, they deduced that the sandstone from which the anchors and ballast were fashioned was a type native to southern China. The timbers of the ancient wreck had long since been battered to splinters by the treacherous offshore waves and rocks of the Palos Verdes peninsula.
Although historians have begun to take the idea of Chinese explorers more seriously in the last few years, at the time it was academic heresy to suggest that a non-European race had reached the shores of Western North America almost 1500 years before the Spanish made their first forays here in the 16th century. Mainstream archaeology massed to protect the status quo by first suggesting that the artifacts were merely the cast-offs of immigrant Chinese fishermen of the 19th and early 20th century who had “quickly applied the techniques of their native land to the California Coast.”1 For some reason, this failed to explain the origin of the stones, and contemporary photographic evidence proving that Chinese in California chose to employ readily available and much more practical metal anchors.
But that was not all that was found on the sea bed near the Palos Verdes promontory: Two column-like stones carved with grooves and holes, as well as a stone sphere weighing almost a ton with a groove cut around its circumference were also recovered. No one could venture a guess as to what these objects were for, and whence they came. Henriette Mertz, in her book Pale Ink, delved into the ancient Chinese legend of the land of “Fu Shang.” Although other scholars have found fault with her analysis, Mertz translated the old Chinese units of measure into miles and found that the tales of Fu Shang placed its location precisely at the California coast. Reading the tales of the explorers, she also thought she recognized descriptions of Mount Shasta and the Grand Canyon.2
Farfetched as Ms. Mertz’ claims might seem, the ancient Chinese did have the sea power necessary to cross the Pacific. Centuries before the Europeans, Chinese navigators possessed such naval technology as balanced rudders, watertight compartments, and compasses. In addition, Meistrell’s anchors weren’t the first erratic Chinese artifacts to show up in America. A year before Meistrell uncovered the stone relics, a U.S. Geological Survey dredging operation 75 miles off the coast of the California shore had pulled up a similar object. And earlier in the century, ancient Chinese inscriptions and relics had turned up in odd places around the West. Archaic Chinese rock writing had been found in a Nevada canyon, and a peculiar little idol covered with ancient Chinese characters was unearthed in Granby, Colorado…two more pieces in a vast, centuries-old Chinese puzzle.
The Palos Verdes anchors are just one entry in a long list of anomalous oriental objects and influences found throughout the Western U.S. The so-called Granby Idol, found in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, was covered with an archaic form Chinese writing. Nancy Yaw Davis noticed that the Zuni tribe of New Mexico had in common with ancient Japan many elements of their spoken language and philosophy. In her book, The Zuni Enigma, she put forward the amazing theory that the tribe were the descendants of ancient Buddhist explorers who mingled with the native population to produce the unique Zuni culture.
For now, the academic battle still rages about the Palos Verdes artifacts, although recent developments in the study of the history of ancient mariners has begun to recognize the shadowy contributions of Oriental explorers. Retired Royal Navy submarine commander and navigation expert Gavin Menzies gave a lecture in 2002 where he announced that Chinese navigators had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan’s fleet struggled back to Spain in 1522. Menzies suggested that the maps produced by the Chinese somehow found their way to Venice in 1428. He also cited the fact that Portuguese explorers used detailed maps of the southern tip of Africa and the Indian Ocean to sail around the Cape of Good Hope before they had even been there. Menzies goes into detail in his newly published book 1421, the Year China Discovered America.
The anchor discovery may be the best challenge yet to orthodox American historians who deny that the continent was “discovered” before 1000 A.D. For years, they had refused to believe that ancient Europeans and Africans had visited America, despite the Celtic stone cairns, Roman coins and Phoenician urns that kept turning up on the New England coast. Now, from America’s western shore, came a new affront to the continent’s “official” history: some doughnut-shaped stones tossed into the ocean 2,000 years ago by Chinese sailors wrecked on the wave-lashed shores of Palos Verdes.