Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This picture reminds me of yesterday's discussion of good wives.
I don't know about you, but I find this fascinating.
This month, the only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display at the Library of Congress. The map is, in a word, an enigma. The mapmaker named the territory he drew America, only to change his mind later. No one knows why. Somehow, he was able to accurately draw South America and place a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific -- which begs the question: how could he have known?
The map was created by a German monk named Martin Waldseemuller. Thirteen years after Christopher Columbus first landed in the Western Hemisphere, the Duke of Lorraine brought Waldseemuller and a group of scholars together at a monastery in Saint-Die in France to create a new map of the world. The result was an astonishingly accurate map with remarkably modern overtones. Experts agree that the actual shape of South America as depicted by Waldseemuller is correct and that the width of South America at certain key points is correct within 70 miles of accuracy. Given what Europeans are believed to have known about the world at the time, it should not have been possible for the mapmaker to produce it. How in the world did he do it?
Fact: The map depicts the west coast of South America reasonably accurately.
Fact: Vasco Nunez de Balboa did not reach the Pacific by land until 1513.
Fact: Ferdinand Magellan did not round the southern tip of the continent until 1520.
The mapmakers purportedly based the map on the 1,300-year-old works of the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy as well as letters Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci wrote describing his voyages to the new world. Scholars agree, however, that the map could not have been drawn based on Vespucci's writings.
Waldseemuller named the new land after Vespucci, explaining that he came up with the name America based on the navigator's first name. Sometime later, he changed his mind, resulting in an atlas done by Waldseemuller some six years later showing only part of the east coast of the Americas. The territory is therein referred to as Terra Incognita -- unknown land. A subsequent mariner's map (1516), drawn on the same scale as the 1507 map, shows only parts of the new continents and reconnects the northern area to Asia. South America is labeled Terra Nova -- New World -- and North America is labeled Terra de Cuba -- Land of Cuba -- essentially reconnecting North America to the Asian mainland, suggestive of a continual world of land mass rather than separated by those bodies of water that separate us from Europe and Asia.
So many delicious questions, so few answers.
More maps -- not exactly official, but fun.
It's snowing here today. Pretty!
Because I've already taken up so much time and space, we'll just do a very short meme today.
I think I'm grownup because ____________.
On the other hand, I think I'll never grow up because ____________.
If I ever grow up, I want to _____________.
If I have to grow up, let me wait another ______ years to do it.
Some people are born old; I was born _________.
I'm not sure whassup with these Words Gone Wild, but TWISTED LINGUISTICS is going to attempt to find out.
pesonal - Of or relating to pesos earned by peons.
These are making my head hurt, so would you guys please see if there's anything you can do with them?
And we have from that ever-maddening "editor" person: