Ancient map discovered in Germany oldest document to list 'America'
Researcher at library finds map concealed between two books
The word "America" was intended to honor explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451
- 1512), whom cartographer Martin Waldseemüller mistakenly regarded as
the discoverer of the continent. Now, a previously unknown version of
the famous world map from the mapmaker's workshop has turned up in the
collections in the University Library in Munich.
When arranged, the maps form a small globe of about 11 centimeters in diameter. In the three rightmost wedges, there are huge, boomerang-shaped landmass in the middle of an immense ocean.
The chart, at the time of the presentation was exactly 500 years old. Many refer to it as "America's birth certificate" as the New World appears for the first time under the name "America."
Registered as the "Memory of the World," UNESCO's inventory of the world's documentary heritage is currently on show in the Library of Congress in Washington.
The map was originally the property of a private German collection, included as Object No. 01301 on the list of specially protected German Cultural Treasures. Before the Library could purchase the map from the previous owner and obtain an export license, the object had first to be delisted, granted at the direction of the Chancellor's Office in 2001.
The 1507 world map is a wall map of three square meters. The much smaller maps, the so-called globe segments, were at least as important for the dissemination of geographical knowledge at that time.
These depict the world in twelve individual segments in surface wedges. All taper to a point at each end and are printed on a single sheet like cut-outs on construction paper.
When arranged, they form a small globe of about 11 centimeters in diameter. In the three rightmost wedges, there are huge, boomerang-shaped landmass in the middle of an immense ocean. The globe places America in the far West, seen from Europe and Africa, on the far side of a wide, wide sea.
Only a handful of the perhaps 100 sets printed from the original woodblocks are known to have survived. The copy currently in Washington, which belonged to the princely House of Waldburg-Wolfegg and Waldsee in Germany, is the sole copy of the large world map that has come down to us.
Four copies of the segmental maps were previously known to researchers. Three of them are now in Minneapolis, Offenburg and in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, the fourth sold at auction for $1 million by Christie's in 2005.
Members of the staff of the University Library have now accidentally discovered a fifth.
While working on an ongoing revision of the catalogs, a bibliographer came across the document tucked in between two printed works on geometry from the early 16th century was the unsought map - a double-page spread in roughly A4 format. The maps survived the Second World War unscathed, although the University Library itself was devastated by air raids.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Cartography, map, Germany, Martin Waldseemüller
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