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Maps, Explorers & Adventurers => Maps, Cartographers & Cartography => Topic started by: Bianca on July 11, 2007, 11:38:16 am

Title: The Oronteus Finaeus Map
Post by: Bianca on July 11, 2007, 11:38:16 am

                                         T H E   O R O N T E U S   F I N A E U S    M A P

Written by Paul Lunde

Whatever one may think of the Hapgood hypotheses, the Oronteus Finaeus - or Finé-map poses questions that are difficult to answer.

Oronteus Finaeus Delphinas—his vernacular name was Oronce Finé - was born two years after the discovery of America. A Frenchman, he taught mathematics at the University of Paris, published a number of important works and was one of the first "modern"cartographers. His careful maps of Europe are models of their kind and superseded all those which had gone before.

Finé's world map, done on a "cordiform" or heart-shaped projection, was drawn in 1531 and published for the first time in Grynaeus' Novus Orbis. Quite apart from its scientific interest, this map is a thing of great beauty. It influenced - both in projection and design—many later maps, including the famous world map of Mercator himself (see page 29). The most striking feature of the Finé map, and the one that particularly struck Charles Hapgood, is its representation of Antarctica. The continent of Antarctica, as is well known, was not discovered until 1820, by seal hunters and neither its true extent nor its major geographical features, including the Transantarctic Mountains, were fully known until as recently as 1957-1958, when the continent as a whole was scrutinized by scientists on the occasion of the International Geophysical Year.

Yet here is a map, published 426 years before the IGY and 289 years before the discovery of the continent, which fully outlines Antarctica - and even seems to show such features as the Ross Sea, which is normally hidden by great sheets of ice. That this is so can be seen immediately by comparing the reproduction of the Finaeus map with the outline of Antarctica as shown in modern a tlases (see page 29). It is no wonder that Hapgood was amazed, as it is difficult indeed to explain away the similarity between Finé's Antarctica - called on his map, Terra Australis, "the southern land" - and today's Antarctica.  

Title: Re: The Oronteus Finaeus Map
Post by: Bianca on July 11, 2007, 11:40:32 am

Classical geographers, it is true, had hypothesized the existence of just such a southern land, but in doing so they appear to have been led by esthetic - or logical - considerations. Since they knew the earth was a globe and that the land mass to the north was frozen, it was logical that there should be a land to the far south, balancing that to the north. But it is a long way from a general hypothesis such as this to the delineation of a continent.

This is not to deny that there are differences - important differences - between Finé's "southern land." and Antarctica as we know it. The most obvious of these is the distance between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica. In Finé's map the two continents are virtually touching, when in fact they are separated by some 600 miles. He appears to have thought that the "southern land" lay immediately south of the Strait of Magellan and that it was much bigger than it really is.

Furthermore, there is nothing on the Finé map that could correspond to the Palmer Peninsula. If a charitable critic should say that this is because it is partially obscured by sheet ice, and its true outline could not have been visible, then why is the Ross Sea shown - as it apparently is—without ice? And there are smaller differences as well, such as the slightly mistaken orientation of Byrd Land.

On the other hand there is no denying that Tine's "southern land" closely resembles Antarctica - nor the fact that Finaeus had added a Latin inscription that reads: "The recently discovered southern land; it is not yet fully known".

Title: Re: The Oronteus Finaeus Map
Post by: Bianca on July 11, 2007, 11:46:19 am

As far as is known, the first cartography to indicate a southern continent was by the great Leonardo da Vinci himself, who depicted it on a globe and the planispheric map made by Francesco Rosselli. Dated to about 1508, the globe shows a vast land below Africa, labelled Antarcticus. In 1515 a southern continent was shown on another globe made by Schoner. But Finé's continent is more exactly drawn than those of his predecessors and in fact - as can be seen from the illustrations - the great Mercator adopted Finé's version of the shape of the continent wholesale, along with a similar Latin inscription: "It is certain that there is a land here, but what its limits and boundaries are is unknown"

One possible explanation appeared in a longer inscription on a map by Cornelius de Judaeis dated 1593. It says that a promontory of this land was "discovered by the Portuguese, but they did not explore the interior. This reference to the Portuguese is interesting, for Finé inscribes a portion of the Antarctic continent, "Regio Brasilis", "the region of Brazil" - which might imply Portuguese discovery.

Furthermore, the coastline that turns eastward on the Piri Reis map - identified by Hapgood with the coast of Queen Maud Land - also bears a curious inscription referring to the Portuguese. It reads: "It is related by the Portuguese that on this spot, night and day are, at their shortest period, of two hours duration, and at longest phase, of twenty-two hours. "Unfortunately, this tantalizing bit of information - which would certainly suggest Antarctic latitudes - is vitiated by what immediately follows: "But the day is very warm and in the night there is much dew".

Title: Re: The Oronteus Finaeus Map
Post by: Bianca on July 11, 2007, 11:48:03 am

          ORONCE FINE'

Put together, those clues suggest that some unknown Portuguese navigator, before 1513, reached Antarctica, mapped part of its northern coast and left only maps as the record of the expedition.

It is a tempting explanation. But it does not, unfortunately, explain warm days and dewy nights in Antarctica, the details of the Ross Sea or the outline of Antarctica as a whole on Finé's map.

Another possibility is that the Portuguese—who occupied Timor, only 285 miles away - may have mapped the northern coast of Australia; it does resemble the far coast of Antarctica. Because of the intense rivalry with Spain, such a map not only could have been kept secret, but most likely would have been. If Finé had a copy of that map his map of Antarctica could have been a composite: of rumored Portuguese sightings of the coast below South America and the secret Portuguese map of the Australian coast. If Finé did combine them, it would account for the otherwise inexplicable - and incorrect—sizeof Finé's Antarctica. This theory would also account for its resemblance to modern maps—there is at least some resemblance between the northern coast of Australia and the opposite coast of Finé's Antarctica - and explain the, inscriptions referring to the Portuguese.

It is, certainly, simpler than Hapgood's hypotheses. But it still involves missing maps and undocumented voyages. Major historical and cartographical problems, therefore, remain unsolved. The mystery is still there.


Paul F. Hoye, Editor of Aramco World and formerly a reporter and columnist on The Providence Journal, studied Middle East affairs at Columbia University under the Advanced International Reporting Program. Paul Lunde is a graduate of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, and is currently working on Arabic manuscripts in the Vatican Library in Rome.