Thursday, August 29, 2013

Older Oldest Globe to Show the Americas

The discovery of the oldest globe to show the New World was announced last week by the Washington Map Society.

The globe was extensively analyzed, x-rayed, carbon dated and ink tested to prove its date of origin and provenace.

Some quotes from the announcement:
The previously-unknown globe, which is about the size of a grapefruit, was made from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, and dates from the very early 1500s.   Until now, it was thought that the oldest globe to show the New World was the “Lenox Globe” at the New York Public Library, but the author presents evidence that this Renaissance ostrich egg globe was actually used to cast the copper Lenox globe, putting its date c. 1504.

The globe contains ships of different types, monsters, intertwining waves, a shipwrecked sailor, and  71 place names, and one sentence , “HIC SVNT DRACONES” (Here are the Dragons).  Only 7 of the names are in the Western Hemisphere.  No names are shown for North America, which is represented as a group of scattered islands; three names are shown in South America   (Mundus Novus or “New World”, Terra de Brazil, and Terra Sanctae Crucis, or”Land of the Holy Cross”).  For many countries and territories in the world, (e.g. Japan, Brazil, Arabia) this is the oldest known engraved depiction on a globe.  
It's a tired cliche that every author who writes about cartography invokes the "here be dragons" thing. Still I like that it appears on this globe. I also like ostrich eggs as a medium.

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