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One of the First Maps to Include “America” Found in Old Geometry Book

Tucked away in a geometry book at the Munich University Library, researchers found a 500-year old map of the new world, and one of the first to bear the name America.

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This 500-year old map is one of the first to show the new world as a distinct continent. Photo: DPA/LMU

Tucked away in a geometry book at the Munich University Library, researchers found a 500-year old map of the new world, and one of the first to show the name “America”.

Germany’s Der Spiegel reports,

Researchers believe the map is a smaller global map created by Waldseemüller, who lived from 1470-1522, and became famous for a three-square-meter world map he drafted. That work is often referred to as America’s “birth certificate.”

The larger and slightly older map made by Waldseemüller was recently acquired by the Library of Congress. That map, titled, “Universalis cosmographia secunda Ptholemei traditionem et Americi Vespucci aliorum que lustrationes,” was the first to show the new world labeled America, in honor of Italian explorer Amgerigo Vespucci.

That earlier map’s title translates to, “A drawing of the whole earth following the tradition of Ptolemy and the travels of Amerigo Vespucci and others.”

According to Der Spiegel,

Sven Kuttner, who heads the old books department at the university library, told DPA that the map differs from previously known versions. He said its origins haven’t been determined entirely but that it had probably been created some time after the first printing in 1507. The map had been printed from carefully carved wood blocks.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Waldseemüller Map: Charting the New World

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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