Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:58pm EDT - http:/www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSL242804420080729
LONDON (Reuters) - Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of machines are uncannily similar to Chinese originals and were undoubtedly derived from them, a British amateur historian says in a newly-published book.
Gavin Menzies sparked headlines across the globe in 2002 with the claim that Chinese sailors reached America 70 years before Christopher Columbus.
Now he says a Chinese fleet brought encyclopedias of technology undiscovered by the West to Italy in 1434, laying the foundation for the engineering marvels such as flying machines later drawn by Italian polymath Leonardo.
"Everything known to the Chinese by the year 1430 was brought to Venice," said Menzies, a retired Royal Navy submarine commander, in an interview at his north London home.
From Venice, a Chinese ambassador went to Florence and presented the material to Pope Eugenius IV, Menzies says.
"I argue in the book that this was the spark that really ignited the renaissance and that Leonardo and (Italian astronomer) Galileo built on what was brought to them by the Chinese.
"Leonardo basically redrew everything in three dimensions, which made a vast improvement."
If accepted, the claim would force an "agonizing reappraisal of the Eurocentric view of history", Menzies says in his book "1434: The Year A Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed To Italy and Ignited The Renaissance". Continued...