"3,000 Year Old Chinese Anchors"

Four Chinese Anchors.GIF (65916 bytes)

For publicity purposes, the discovery of some unusually shaped rocks off the Palos Verdes coastline prompted two individuals to announce they had discovered anchors from a 3,000 year-old Chinese wreck. The story was met with great interest as it implied that the New World was discovered by the Orient and not by Europeans. It was also met with an equal amount of criticism.

The rocks, which are irregular and generally elliptical in shape, range in size from a bowling ball to a beach ball, and appear to have been drilled with holes approximately 2"-4" in diameter. The total quantity of stones has never been established, but a number of the oddities have been recovered at depth while others can be found near the surfline.

It is uncertain how the 3,000 year age of the "anchors" was established, nor was it ever made clear how a small vessel would cross the Pacific so heavily burdened. Given their size and weight, some of which are less than 8" x 24," it is questionable if the stones could hold a vessel of any size in the ocean.

There have been a number of documented accidental crossings by Japanese boats since the early 1800s, but no Chinese boats are known to have crossed the Pacific until modern times. To verify this theory, an attempt to duplicate the voyage from China to America in a Chinese junk riding the Kuroshio Current met dismal failure.

An examination by a geologist established that the stone is of local origin. Some have suggested that these stones were used by the Chinese that occupied the area during the latter half of the 19th century, while others suggest the stones were used by the Portuguese during the same period to anchor whales during their butchering.  The stones may be found from Pt. Fermin to north of Point Vincente--the scattering over several miles rules out the possibilities of a shipwreck.

There is another theory and likely the only one supported by physical evidence. The area where the stones can be found is rich in fossils.

Chinese Anchor5.GIF (54062 bytes) Embedded in the rocks, fossils are commonly found in the area.

As the ocean erodes the cliffs, rocks with embedded fossils tumble into the surfline where the stones become worn and rounded by the wave action. When a fossil becomes exposed, its softer material is quickly worn away, leaving behind a void in a rock. Over time, these voids become bigger. Once an urchin or two make a home in the depression, the rock is quickly honed out by the round urchin, leaving behind a tube.

An "anchor" in the making.  Note the fossilized bone in the center and the hole left behind after being scoured out by the surf and sand.

Chinese_Anchor1.gif (37163 bytes)

Whatever their origin, there is little if any chance the rocks were imported from the Orient 3,000 years ago.