redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Researchers from the Washington Map Society report that they have discovered the oldest known globe to depict the New World – an etching on an ostrich egg that appears to originate from the early 16th century.
According to ABC News reporter Alexis Shaw, the egg is about the same size as a grapefruit and dates back to the year 1504. It depicts North America as a series of scattered islands, and also includes South America, Japan, Brazil and Arabia, officials from the Washington Map Society explained last Monday.
The discovery will be detailed in the Fall 2013 edition of The Portolan, a journal of cartography published by the Society, and cartographers believe that it could have been made in Florence, Italy. In fact, according to Sarah Griffiths of the Daily Mail, it might have been crafted in the workshop of famed artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci.
“This is a major discovery, and we are pleased to be the vehicle for its announcement,” Tom Sander, Editor of The Portolan (who has personally inspected the globe) said in a statement. “We undertook a very extensive peer review process to vet the article, which itself was based on more than a year of scientific and documentary research.”
“When I heard of this globe, I was initially skeptical about its date, origin, geography and provenance, but I had to find out for myself,” added author and independent Belgian researcher Dr. Stefaan Missinne. “After all no one had known of it, and discoveries of this type are extremely rare. I was excited to look into it further, and the more I did so, and the more research that we did, the clearer it became that we had a major find.”
The globe was constructed from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, and includes the phrase “HIC SVNT DRACONES” (“Here are the Dragons”) over the coast of Southeast Asia, Shaw said. It was discovered at the London Map Fair last year by a dealer who claimed that it had been a part of an “important European collection” for decades, officials from the Map Society said.
“The anonymous owner of the globe… allowed Missinne to investigate the globe. The researcher used carbon dating, computer tomography testing, an ink assessment, as well as a geographical, cartographic, and historical analysis,” according to CBSNews.com. Missinne determined that the globe was made sometime around 1504, and could have been used to cast the New York Public Library’s copper Lenox globe, which has been dated to 1510.
Dr. Missinne told Griffiths that the globe reflects the knowledge of the New World provided by early European explorers such as Amerigo Vespucci, the man for whom the Americas were named. It depicts several different types of ships, monsters and waves, as well as 71 different place names, including three in South America – Mundus novus (New World), Terra de Brazil and Terra Sanctae Crucis (Land of the Holy Cross).