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Adam Smith: Great Voyages: Zheng He

Map of the routes of Zheng He. Credit: Continentalis

Dr. Adam Smith, Assistant Curator, Asian Section talks about Zheng He, a Muslim-born eunuch and the most famous of the men that led the spectacular maritime expeditions of the Ming Dynasty, mounted during the early 15th century as an assertion of China’s power and prestige among neighboring peoples of Southeast Asia. Dr. Smith discusses Zheng He’s seven voyages, which reached beyond Southeast Asia to India, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa over three decades—half a century before Portuguese navigators reached these same regions via the Cape of Good Hope.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum has conducted more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions around the world. Three gallery floors feature materials from Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bible Lands, Mesoamerica, Asia and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as artifacts from native peoples of the Americas, Africa and Polynesia.

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