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'Sensational' world map found after two centuries
Photo: DPA

'Sensational' world map found after two centuries

Published: 03 Jul 2012 15:27 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Jul 2012 15:27 GMT+02:00

Munich university librarians have found a missing 500-year-old map by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller. It is thought to be a smaller version of the 1507 Waldseemüller map that named the newly discovered continent "America."

The map, thought to be worth several hundred thousands euros, was lost after apparently being misfiled in Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University in the 19th century.

"We've made a sensational find," commented library director Klaus-Rainer Brintzinger.

Two researchers found the map between two 16th century prints on geometry "in an otherwise unremarkable volume that had been rebound in the 19th century," a statement said.

It is a slightly younger and smaller map than Waldseemüller's famous three-square-metre world map of 1507, sometimes referred to as “America's birth certificate”, as it was the first map to give the continent that name.

Chancellor Angela Merkel presented that map to the US on an official visit to Washington in 2007, when the map was exactly 500 years old. It has been registered as a world heritage document by UNESCO.

Until the new find in Munich, only four examples of the smaller version were known, one of which sold at auction for $1 million in 2005.

The newly unearthed map, one of the so-called globe segments, is believed to have been produced by Waldseemüller himself, who died in 1522.

The smaller versions were "at least as important for the dissemination of geographical knowledge in his time," as the three-square-metre map, the university said.

The new find shows the world divided into twelve segments which taper to a point at each end and are printed on a single sheet, which would form a small globe if cut out and assembled, with the three rightmost segments depicting a boomerang-shaped territory named America.

"Even in our digital age the originals have lost none of their significance and unique fascination," said Brintzinger in a 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."

The map survived World War II despite air raids devastating the library - many of the older books were moved out in 1942.

Waldseemüller probably used information gleaned from the transatlantic voyages of Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci - after whom America is named - and unknown Portuguese and Spanish sources, to draw the 1507 map.

Historians still wonder why he named the new continent after Vespucci and not Columbus, who “discovered” America in 1492.

The Local/AFP/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:55 July 3, 2012 by paulspookys
Amirika was never doscovered. How do you "discover" something MILLIONS of people already knew about. You find natives living, you kill them and claim you discovered their land.
20:02 July 3, 2012 by PNWDev
The term discovered is used a little too loosely. They should explain it is when Europeans first learned of the continent, although some will point out Nords may have been there even earlier.

But it does make for a funny story (Columbus discovers America and when he steps foot on shore, he meets Native Indians). And yes, sadly, since that day, the Native American Indians would never be the same. The US government forever converted them from an efficient, self-sustaining people, to an entitlement-reliant people with still no sign of recovery.
20:53 July 3, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Chancellor Angela Merkel presented that map to the US on an official visit to Washington in 2007, when the map was exactly 500 years old.

Thanks Ange. Na, Amis? - world geography 101. Better late than never. :)
23:35 July 3, 2012 by pepsionice
Yep, just kinda interesting....all those Russian and Siberian Indians walking over and finding America around thirty thousand years ago. If there had just been an ice bridge over by Newfoundland....they would have marched onto England and Germany, and today be.....German Indians.
07:14 July 4, 2012 by ackmanx
@paulspookys: Of course America was "discovered". It was found out - people in Europe were made aware of it. The fact that people exist there doesn't mean another people can't discover it.
08:39 July 4, 2012 by szukalski
@Leo - The reason Angie gave the map to the Americans was to try and educate them that there are countries beyond theirs..
09:53 July 4, 2012 by jtech7
@szukalski: American businesses are in just about every country in the world...to include your tiny country (wherever that is)...don't hate ;0)
11:25 July 4, 2012 by SmittyBoy
@PaulSpookys - The Americas were 'discovered' in exactly the same way other places inhabited by stone-age cultures were discovered by the far more sophisticated Europeans. With our printed books, written laws, corporate bodies, and vastly superior technology, we dared to cross huge frontiers- with the expectation of returning home - in months instead of millenia. We established permanent settlements, and permanent lines of communication, on the other side of the planet within a single lifetime.

That's why the word 'discovered' is used; not because we can't all remember that other people were already there.
14:01 July 4, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@jtech7

`to include your tiny country`

Maybe Szukalski is from tiny Canada or Russia?

Time for you to take a look at that map, too. :)

@szukalski

I think this explains why we made our comments. :)
14:58 July 4, 2012 by jtech7
I said, don't hate, this includes you, Mr Leo Strauss...

Maybe you should learn how to use the internet, and well, this site, before you state people come from Canada or Russia...per his profile, he's obviously from Neuseeland...

My point here, is this is a cool story. And more importantly, bashing someone's country is ignorant, no matter the situation.

True colors received...hehe
15:52 July 4, 2012 by Floriansamsel
@jtech7

How can you expect people from other countries not to hate you? Because American businesses ARE in every tiny country, we have got the world-wide crisis. Thank you so much. If you don't believe or have not heard of this before, just use the internet again...hehehe - just kidding.
22:44 July 4, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@jtech7

`per his profile, he's obviously from Neuseeland...`

Yeah? Then why did you write in your first post:

@szukalski: American businesses are in just about every country in the world...to include your tiny country (wherever that is)

Wherever that is = New Zealand?

Anyway, for the record (and the profile(s) out there) I would just like to say lima charlie that I am a fan of the U-S-A!

PS Ain`t hatin` j, just playin`

@Floriansamsel

Pass mal auf- der hat auch deine Akte ;)
10:34 July 6, 2012 by szukalski
@jtech7

Kiwi is just one of my nationalities.. some of the non-nationalistic empire states allow this. ;)

My comment was more of a statement about American geographical knowledge (do a quick google and you will quickly see what I mean) and the fact that there seems to be an attitude of "the earth revolves around us and we won't even bother learning what is outside our door". But I was just having a laugh.. although I think your statement should have been:

"

American businesses are going under in just about every country in the world.

"

trollface.jpg
20:55 July 8, 2012 by jtech7
@szukalski:

LOL, there you go again Mr Trollface...but ok, I'll bite ;)

Last time I checked, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Sun, Facebook, Intel, etc. etc. etc. are doing great (should I switch industries to give you more examples)?

No need for jealousy, but, if you truly have the desire, try going a week or two without using something sold by an American business (yes, this includes your computer as well). So, make fun of us all you want, in this case I will ALWAYS have the last laugh...hehehe

A cheap shot is a cheap shot....
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