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 Radio programme on the Zheng He naval expeditions 
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:48 pm
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Post Radio programme on the Zheng He naval expeditions
I know that the Ming period in early 15th century China is not strictly within the scope of this forum, but members might be interested in a programme about the mysterious "Treasure Ships" expeditions under admiral Zheng He. Gavin Menzies' book about this fleet and its supposed achievements stirred a lot of controversy a few years ago.

The programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 13th October. The full 45 minute discussion will be from 09:00 to 09:45 BST, with a shortened repeat at 21:30 - 22:00.

These programmes (part of Melvyn Bragg's "In Our Time" series) can also be heard on the internet connection as BBC podcasts which usually continue to be accessible for a few weeks after the radio broadcast.

Lord Bragg has developed a successful style of hosting small panels of specialists to discuss an astonishingly wide range of topics in the "In Our Time" series. These topics can go from pre-Christian spiritual beliefs to modern particle physics. His technique is to assemble a coherent group of experts, usually three, and to do enough homework himself to let him lead the discussion over the key topics, and keep to time, with the very minimum of personal intervention. The names of the discussants for this programme have not been announced, but if his usual flair for selecting good talkers succeeds, it should be worth hearing.

Martin


Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:22 am
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Location: South Cambridgeshire, UK
Post Re: Radio programme on the Zheng He naval expeditions
Did anyone listen? We were disappointed with the lack of maritime content. Next to nothing about the ships - their improbable sizes, their strange proportions, or their rig. Stated to be shallow draft, so how did they cope with deep ocean seas?

There was too much about the politics of the Ming court: the role of eunuchs, the power of the civil service. The Zheng He fleet was discussed mainly in the context of China as a global power. In our view it was a missed opportunity to talk about one of the shipbuilding and navigating controversies that have been argued over recently.

One of my wife's colleagues at Wolfson College, Cambridge, is Dr Sally Church. She was approached some time ago, to take part in this programme, but in the end it seems that the producer decided against including anything too specifically maritime. Presumably for fear of putting off an audience who no longer know that the pointy end of a ship is called 'the bows' and who would glaze over during any discussion of the problems of constructing 400+ foot ships in wood. We think that the programme would have been more interesting if Sally Church had been chosen in place of one of the Ming period historians. She is an established Chinese scholar and has been interested in the practicalities of the Zheng He ships for several years. As a Mandarin speaker she has had a lot of personal contact with the Chinese archaeologists who have been excavating the Ming shipyards at Nanjing, and she has played a considerable part in attempting to correlate the technical nomenclature of Chinese ship construction in terms that would be understood by western naval architects/historians.

Long live the 'rivet counters'!

Martin


Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:44 am
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Post Re: Radio programme on the Zheng He naval expeditions
Martin Evans wrote:
but in the end it seems that the producer decided against including anything too specifically maritime. Presumably for fear of putting off an audience who no longer know that the pointy end of a ship is called 'the bows' and who would glaze over during any discussion of the problems of constructing 400+ foot ships in wood.

Last weekend at the ship, I was talking to a fellow board member who teaches a maritime history class up the at the university. He told me that there were some students who didn't know what a hull was. I thought he was kidding me. He was serious. :shock:

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Long live the 'rivet counters'!

:mrgreen:

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susan


Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:35 am
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