A 600-year-old Chinese map is proof that Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to discover the New World, claims a controversial new book by author Gavin Menzies.

His book, “Who Discovered America,” was published on Tuesday and is already ruffling some feathers. Menzies told the Daily Mail that the “traditional story of Columbus discovering the New World is absolute fantasy, it’s fairy tales.”

Controversial Historian Claims This 600 Year Old Map Proves the Traditional Story of Columbus Discovering America Is Absolute Fantasy

(Harper Collins)

However, many academics are still unconvinced by his theory. According to Yahoo! News, Menzies has been dismissed by critics as a “pseudo-historian” because of some of his outlandish claims that they say are not rooted in historical fact. The author has also reportedly claimed that the mythological city of Alantis was real.

Allegedly found in a bookstore, the old Chinese map on which his new book is based is believed to have been created in the 18th century and is linked to Chinese Admiral Zheng in as far back as 1418, placing the Chinese admiral ahead of Columbus by 70 years.

An appraiser has reportedly authenticated the map itself though there is no proof that the map was created from images drafted in the 1400s. But there is data from that period, like descriptions of landmarks, towns and groups of people in Peru, that support the book’s claims, Menzies says.

Controversial Historian Claims This 600 Year Old Map Proves the Traditional Story of Columbus Discovering America Is Absolute Fantasy

screenshot via the Daily Mail

“If you just go out in a plastic bathtub, the currents will just carry you there. They just came with the current, it’s as simple as that,” Menzies told the Daily Mail, explaining how the Chinese were able to pull off the discovery so long before anyone else.

More from the Daily Mail:

Mr Menzies debuted his Asia-centric theories with 2002′s ’1421: The Year China Discovered the World.’ In it, he said that the famed Chinese sailor Admiral Zheng He, who is known to have reached Europe and Africa, also crossed the Pacific Ocean to the Western Hemisphere.

He claims that Zheng He not only reached the New World, he left colonies there. His fleet also sailed around the tip of South America – through the Strait of Megellan around the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi.

There is evidence, both archaeological and genetic, Menzies says, that Zheng He left his mark in California, Florida, Virginia and even the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

In ‘Who Discovered America?’ Menzies focuses on theories that Asians also made it to North and South America by sea long before even Zheng He.

To read the Daily Mail’s full report, click here.

This story has been updated.

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