Tang Dy­nasty en­voy’s sea voy­ages 6 cen­turies be­fore Zheng He: re­port

The China Post - - LOCAL -

The great mar­itime feats by Zheng He ( ) in the Ming Dy­nasty may have been achieved six cen­turies ear­lier by a diplo­mat of the Tang Dy­nasty, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent TV pro­gram aired by China Shaanxi Broad­cast­ing Corp. (SXBC),

Widely rec­og­nized as the great­est ad­mi­ral of an­cient China, Zheng is listed among the world’s fore­most pi­o­neers in mar­itime his­tory for the se­ries of ex­pe­di­tions that saw Chi­nese ships sail to farflung des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing the coastal ter­ri­to­ries and is­lands in the South China Sea, the In­dian Ocean and be­yond be­tween 1405 and 1433.

Ac­cord­ing to the TV pro­gram, a re­cent study of a stele in­scribed with more than 1,000 words on the achieve­ments of Yang Liangyao through­out his ca­reer in diplo­macy dur­ing the Tang Dy­nasty (618-907) showed that Yang may have made the same jour­ney as Zheng He six cen­turies ear­lier.

The stele was first dis­cov­ered in the 1980s in Shaaxi Prov­ince’s Jingyang County, at a site be­lieved to be Yang’s tomb. Last year, a struc­ture be­lieved to be the stele’s base was dis­cov­ered at a nearby vil­lage, giv­ing re­searchers more clues to delve into.

Re­searchers found that the in­scrip­tions con­tain ac­counts of a jour­ney by a fleet com­manded by Yang, who sailed across the West­ern Pa­cific Ocean, through the Strait of Malacca and the In­dian Ocean to reach the Ab­basid Caliphate, now mod­ern day Iraq.

In­scrip­tions on the stele stated that when Yang reached the fer­tile cres­cent be­tween the rivers Ti­gris and Euphrates, he had or­dered to have his ships an­chored be­fore con­tin­u­ing the jour­ney by land to Ab­basid Caliphate’s cap­i­tal, known as Bagh­dad to­day.

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