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A Journey through Ancient China

The Maritime Voyages of Zheng He

Evening Course

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0358D
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Zheng He's Treasure Ship, Hong Kong Science Museum (Photo: Mike Peel/

China has more than three thousand years of recorded history, but misconceptions abound at every stage. Historian Justin Jacobs takes you on a thematic tour of four important topics in ancient Chinese history: relations with nomads, sacred mountains, the civil service exams, and the maritime voyages of Zheng He. Each lecture includes a rich, nuanced overview based on the latest scholarship and illustrated with copious slides.  

Justin M. Jacobs, professor of Chinese history at American University, is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Plunder? How Museums Got Their Treasures.

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The Maritime Voyages of Zheng He

From 1405 to 1433, the Ming dynasty eunuch Zheng He undertook seven extraordinary maritime voyages to the shores of Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, and even East Africa. This lecture will provide a comprehensive overview of these often-misrepresented voyages, revealing surprising historical precedents, examining why the voyages were commissioned by the emperor, and analyzing just what Zheng He and his fleet did and did not do in foreign lands.  

Additional Sessions of Ancient China Series

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