Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
In time for Fourth of July festivities, Librarians at a German university announced on Tuesday that they have found a 500-year-old version of a world map that was the first to have mentioned “America.”
The librarians were unaware of the map’s presence until they found it stashed away inside an unrelated 16th century Geometry book.
The map doesn’t quite pre-date the 1507 map that Germany officially handed over to the U.S. back in 2007, which now lies in the Library of Congress in Washington.
The newly discovered map is believed to have been drawn up by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller, who died back in 1522, according to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich said.
The new map shows the world divided into twelve segments, which taper to a point at each end and are printed on a single sheet. When the map is folded out, it can form a small globe, with three rightmost segments depicting a boomerang-shaped territory named America.
The university said in a written statement that only four copies of the segmental maps were previously known about. One of the four was sold at an auction for one million dollars back in 2005.
According to the university, the fifth map was found by a bibliographer, who was revising the catalogue “in an otherwise unremarkable volume that had been rebound in the 19th century.”
“Even in our digital age the originals have lost none of their significance and unique fascination,” Klaus-Rainer Brintzinger, the head of the library, said in the statement. “We intend to make the map accessible to the public in digital form in time for the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the USA.”
Waldseemueller helped create the name “America” in honor of explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who he mistakenly believed discovered the New World.
Sven Kuttner, head of the library´s old books department, said the map was a “sleeping beauty” in the university’s collection until its recent unearthing.