Leonardo Lifted from Chinese, Historian Claims

Popular amateur says texts brought to Italy 'ignited Renaissance'
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2008 2:20 PM CDT
A new book by a British amateur historian claims that da Vinci's famed mechanisms were derived from Chinese sources.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned mechanical drawings were derived from Chinese originals brought to Europe decades before he was born, a British amateur historian contends in a new book. “This was the spark that really ignited the Renaissance,” Gavin Menzies tells Reuters, a claim that could force “agonizing reappraisal of the Eurocentric view of history”—though some remain unconvinced by his findings.

“It's very suggestive, very interesting, but the hard work remains to be done,” one academic says if Menzies’ contention that a Chinese fleet brought to Italy in 1434 scientific tomes later modified by da Vinci and others. Menzies “says something is a copy just because they look similar. He says two things are almost identical when they are not … it’s not strong on historical method.”