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