Below is a sample chapter from Charlotte Harris Rees' book

Secret Maps of the Ancient World

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(The following content is Copyrighted Material! Copyright © 2011

Chapter 1:

Discovering the Secret

Few expect ever to own documents that could change world history -- and neither did we. Yet for decades below my brother’s bed lay ancient Asian maps that we, our father’s seven children, inherited from him. Some believe that they may contain a secret of the ancient world.

On seeing the first of his seven old Asian maps in an antique shop in Korea in 1972 my father, Baptist missionary Dr. Hendon M. Harris, Jr., immediately associated it with the Shan Hai Jing, a Chinese classic reportedly written 2200 B.C. and quoted throughout China’s history. The Shan Hai Jing told of Chinese travel to the four corners of the world including a beautiful land far to the east of China named Fu Sang. It described Fu Sang’s terrain and animals in detail. Father realized that the map showed the fabled Fu Sang where America is today.

Father contended the maps written in classical Chinese indicated that by 2200 B.C. Chinese came to America by sea and were the founding fathers of American Indians. He believed that early Chinese and other Asians made many subsequent trips to the New World.

Determining the truth about an event in history is like trying to piece together a crime scene. One problem in this case is that several thousands of years have lapsed.  All the old evidence will never be together again. However, by examining many different puzzle parts one can piece together a clear enough picture to make valid inferences.

For almost 250 years some European scholars have conjectured that Fu Sang, which many ancient Chinese wrote about, was actually America. However, without a map showing Fu Sang they could not prove it. Father’s ancient map indicates where Fu Sang was.  After Dad’s initial find he located a few other copies of this primitive world map in prestigious collections and museums around the globe.

However, most believed these old maps to be partly real and partly imaginary. Declaring the maps imaginary denied the probability of Chinese travels that far so early.  For years the secrets these maps hold have been hidden in museums in plain sight.

I never intended to be drawn into solving the mystery of these maps. My family’s collection was housed in California across the continent from me, and I was a skeptic.

My first real job out of college was as a social worker in Oklahoma. Several of my clients were Indians who looked very Asian. But Chinese coming to America 4200 years ago in boats sounded pretty far-fetched to me.

In December 2002 my husband and I retired, looking forward to a slower pace. Our home in rural Virginia overlooks a pond visited by blue heron and wild geese with backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sunsets here are spectacular and we planned to have time to enjoy them when we were not traveling.

One cold day in January 2003, only a few days into our retirement, I had already read the morning newspaper when a friend called and we discussed a travel ad. When I retrieved the paper to check the ad my eyes landed on a small article about Gavin Menzies and his  best-selling book  1421 - The Year China Discovered America. That day I raced out to get my copy.  Gavin’s book caused me to reconsider whether my father could have been right in his theories about the maps.  Secret Maps of the Ancient World is the result of five years of research to help me answer that question for myself.

After locating much other supporting evidence, by late 1973 Father wrote and published a book of almost 800 pages -- The Asiatic Fathers of America—which at that time had neither wide distribution nor much acceptance.

Dad did some remarkable things in his life.  We, his children, were well aware of his accomplishments. Yet in 1973 when he published The Asiatic Fathers of America we, ranging in age from late teens to early thirties, were preoccupied with starting our own paths in life.  Then in January 1981 we received a call.  Father had suddenly died of a stroke at 64.  The news was devastating.

As we gathered for Father's funeral there was both grief and anger.   In our childhood we felt so close to him, yet beginning in our teen years an invisible barrier stood between our hearts and his.  We had hoped that in his old age he would slow down and mellow, but now that hope was gone and we felt cheated.

Father's estate included numerous books and oriental antiques.  When the seven of us gathered to distribute his belongings, we held rounds of drawings to divide everything fairly, but decided to keep the seven map books as a unit and to take them somewhere for study. Was it possible that Dad’s theories were true?  If so, they belonged not just to us but the world.

Just how does one authenticate ancient Asian maps? And since most other people were not accepting Father's theories then why should we? One year passed, then another, and soon the maps were forgotten documents in a box under my brother's bed.

In early 2003 with my interest piqued by Gavin Menzies’ book I called my brother Hendon, III in California. We met in Washington, D.C. and together we and our spouses took the Hendon Harris Map Collection to the Library of Congress. The collection remained at the Library of Congress for three years while it was studied.

As I began researching in early 2003 I was pleasantly surprised to run across several books that favorably mentioned my father and his theory. One book was written in 1978 by Donald Cyr, who had read a copy of my father's book and gone on extensive search but never found father. Not realizing the immensity of my father’s discovery, it initially amused me that anyone would go to all that trouble to try to find the man I knew as “Dad.”

One chapter in Cyr's book was written by Dr. Cyclone Covey and was about the ancient Shan Hai Jing.  I learned that Covey earned his PhD from Stanford and is now History Professor Emeritus at Wake Forest. Still thinking that my father had probably reached incorrect conclusions, I called Covey to ask him directly whether recent research had proved my father wrong. I discovered that Covey quoted my father in four more books. He told me that it was my father who was the first in recent times to associate this particular map both with the Shan Hai Jing and America. Covey also told me that there is now MUCH more evidence that my father was right.

At the time of our first conversation Covey had been studying for over 50 years about ancient China’s association with America. He strongly urged me to go forward with my father’s research. He volunteered to help me and he has been my mentor throughout my research. Without his patience and encouragement I am sure that I would not have survived this complicated subject.

On one of my many research trips to Washington, D. C. I discovered Dr. Robert Schoch’s 2003 book Voyages of the Pyramid Builders.  Schoch earned his PhD from Yale and teaches at Boston College.  He has studied pyramids all over the world. When he reached the pyramids of South America he concluded that since they were so much like the pyramids in China of the same era that they had to have been built by someone supervised by the Chinese.  He also presented evidence that whoever built them had to have come by sea.  Subsequently, Schoch and I have corresponded several times. He endorsed my 2006 abridgement of my father's book The Asiatic Fathers of America.

Dr. Betty Meggers, Director, Latin American Archeology Program, at the Smithsonian, has written since at least 1961 on the subject of very early Asian influence on the Americas. She said that she was “taught in graduate school that cultural development in the Americas was independent of that in the Old World”  so was surprised when she repeatedly came upon  evidence to the contrary.

Meggers commented, “Aside from cultural evolution, no theory has provoked more violent dissension among anthropologists than transpacific contact.” I was privileged to correspond with Dr. Meggers by e-mail and then met her when she came as my guest when I spoke at the Library of Congress in May 2005. She wrote numerous articles and chapters in books on this subject but stated that her work was "mainly ignored."

I have also talked by phone and by e-mail with Dr. H. Mike Xu (educated both in China and America) who identified ancient Chinese writings on Olmec celts in Mexico and on other rocks in the United States. He wrote Origin of the Olmec Civilization (University of Central Oklahoma Press). The Olmec culture began about 1200 B.C.  Xu contends that the Olmec were transplants from China. The U.S. News & World Report, November 4, 1996 reports that the incisions on these Olmec celts have been verified by other experts from China as being Shang era Chinese writing.

The late Dr. George Carter wrote that he was indoctrinated in college to believe that everything in the Americas developed separately from the Old World. He later became a spokesman for early arrival of Asians to America.  He recalled years later the "wrenching impact of the challenge to my firm beliefs" when he first came to grips with the evidence.  He said that at that realization his body literally shook.

Then I came across a book by PhD microbiologist, Simon Southerton from Australia, whose book Losing a Lost Tribe compiles DNA studies of Native Americans.  In 2004 when that book was written all 175 Indian tribes then tested showed founding DNA from Asia. (He now tells me that 200 tribes have been tested with the same results.) Southerton's book was written not to prove anything about Asian influence but to answer questions of his own faith in the Book of Mormon.  Because Southerton was convinced the evidence he found disproves Mormon doctrine, he left his position as bishop in the Mormon Church.  Subsequently he was excommunicated.

Although author Gavin Menzies and I live on different sides of the Atlantic he has been an ally. I first made contact with him through his web site in 2003 shortly after I read 1421, The Year China Discovered America. I told him about our maps and we corresponded briefly. Almost two years later he re-contacted me. We met then at the Library of Congress where he viewed the maps.  By that point he had come to realize that the Chinese reached America long before 1421.  I will always be grateful for his perseverance on this topic and his support.  I regard him a gentleman. Numerous times Gavin has experienced bitter hostilities and personal attacks by others. I must admit, he and I have not agreed on everything.  We have had a few lively debates but we always walk away with mutual respect.

I began to see one common thread. Many of the people who presented ideas similar to my father’s have faced rejection or hostility from others who were not ready to re-examine history. If after research I reached their same conclusions was I just setting myself up to be the next one attacked? Would it not be easier just to watch sunsets?  Should we just leave well enough alone?  Should we not be able to debate without being hateful? I am very proud of my American heritage but I also want truth.

In recent years DNA evidence has reopened old crimes. In many cases previous verdicts have been overturned.  In the same way, DNA coupled with other evidence allows us to re-examine ancient history.

It is one issue if information was never available before. It is something entirely different if facts were purposely withheld from us. I have been in countries both East and West where information was blocked but prided myself in thinking there was freedom of information in my country, America. However, in my research for this book I have run across multiple situations of purposeful concealment.

One of the first questions a child asks is "Why?" As long as we are alive we should continue to ask questions. It might seem shocking that perhaps the teachers that we loved and trusted in school were not always teaching truth.  (Probably because they themselves were misinformed.) Our respect for them should not preclude us from stepping through the door of questioning.

I came to realize that I would have to dig out America’s true history for myself. The journey has not been as easy as I originally hoped.  It has involved not just American and Chinese sources but also those of other nationalities. Answers were discovered not just in history or map books but also in the fields of science, archeology, oceanography, philosophy, anthropology, art, linguistics, and mathematics.

One television newsman asked me “If this is true, why have I never heard this before?” Just remember that because you never heard something before does not keep it from being true. Which one of us knows everything there is to know?

Imagine that this is a courtroom and you are the judge of a case that is being re-examined. Follow our arguments, keep an open mind, and then come to your own verdict.  I approach the subject as an investigative reporter, bringing in the work of many others who have spent years studying this. I have included end notes so that those who wish to do so may check my sources.

I hope this sample chapter has sparked an interest in reading an exciting adventure about ancient Chinese voyagers coming to the Americas.

If you would like to be added to my email list follow this link to my contact page and send me a quick email. When new information concerning the topics on this site become available, you will be one of the first to know!

Charlotte Harris Rees

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