Thursday, 7 February 2013

Moeraki Boulders - Are they evidence of ancient Chinese Junks?

This entry is in green type to indicate it may be very boring to some people, so if you're not interested in history, don't read on!

I was very interested in visiting the Moeraki Boulders as it featured in a book I recently read by Gavin Menzies called '1434' and one I touched on in a previous entry when we visited Rakaia Huts. Gavin Menzies is a retired British submarine navigator who has become obsessed with the Chinese and, what he believes is their world exploration, mapping and colonisation in the fifteenth century before Columbus, Vespuchi, Magellan and Cook. In his first book '1421' he claims all our famous European explorers travelled with Chinese maps and navigation systems and were thus just navigators rather than discoverers. In his second book, '1434' he claims the Chinese visited Italy and started the Renaissance, by providing information on all their discoveries, claiming that the great geniuses of people such as Leonardo Da Vinci were just great illustrators of Chinese work.

The reason the Chinese withdrew from this world domination, he claims, is due to a 20m diameter meteorite striking the earth at the edge of the New Zealand continental shelf, just to its south-east in the mid fifteenth century (evidence of such a crater has, apparently, been discovered). The resulting massive tsunami engulfed all pacific coasts destroying over 90% of the Chinese fleet, something from which they never recovered.

The Moeraki Boulders he claims are ballast from several huge Chinese treasure ships (100m long x 50m wide) that were dashed against the rocks in the tsunami. Evidence of the outline of the junks has apparently been located using 'Magnetic Anomaly' (can't say I know much about this process!). The evidence is logged on his website and you can read it by following this link: 
He has also included photos and diagrams, which you can see on his next page, or at this link: 
In particular, look at the last two images (sketches) on this last link, they show his interpretation of where the huge Chinese treasure ships lay and how the Moeraki boulders relate to them.

Here's now a couple of pictures I took:
View of some boulders on the beach
A broken boulder

The first thing I note is that there are a large number of very round boulders on a small section of an otherwise sandy beach. What could have caused them? The official definition given is that the boulders originally formed around a central core of carbonate of lime crystals that attracted minerals from their surroundings, a process that started sixty million years ago, when they lay deep in muddy sediment. It does add that the process is little understood, leaving the door open that there may be some other explanation....

'Rocks' in the sand close to the boulders. Petrified wood?
I looked around the beach to see if I could see any evidence of the outline of a Chinese treasure ship. Nothing appeared obvious, only sand! However, nearby was a smooth rocky area, could this be the petrified remains of a wooden hull? I don't know and since I don't know the process of Magnetic Anomoly I find it difficult to say yea or nay but, on balance, it seems Gavin Menzies has made a massive 'leap of faith' to arrive at this conclusion.

What do you think? Read his book and let me know


  1. I too have read 1421 The Year The China Discovered The World and I thoroughly enjoyed his logic and reasoning. It also shed some light onto our own early history "myths and legends". However, I should point out that Gavin Menzies was a British submarine commander, not an American. As yet I have not got into 1434.

  2. Hi Vicki, Many thanks for reading this entry and pointing out my error. I've now corrected it - don't know what I was thinking about! There's another entry related to 1421 that you might be interested in: and we also visited and wrote a blog entry on the Zeng He museum in Malacca (Melaka), Malaysia, in March 2015, which has an interesting exhibition of Gavin Menzies. Happy reading, Brian