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Author Topic: VINLAND Map  (Read 458 times)
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« on: October 04, 2007, 07:31:32 pm »

The Vinland map is purportedly a 15th century Mappa Mundi, redrawn from a 13th century original.

-In addition to showing Africa, Asia and Europe, the map depicts a large island west of Greenland in the Atlantic called Vinland; the map describes this region as having been visited in the 11th century. If authentic, such evidence is an important addition to archeological findings such as the L'Anse aux Meadows site, documenting pre-Columbian Norse travels to the Americas. To date it is not definitely decided if the map is fake or authentic, but most scholars tend to believe that it is a fake, especially since tests found round anatase crystals in the ink; although the parchment may be original.

The map was discovered bound together with a codex, Historia Tartarorum ("Description of the Tartars," sometimes referred to as the Tartar Relation).

The Historia is a manuscript of undoubted authenticity that was at some point bound with the Vinland Map. It is a description of the history and manners of the Mongols that appears to be an early version of the memoir of Giovanni da Pian del Carpine (q.v. for full details), an Italian Franciscan friar who in 1245 made a trip to the supreme khan at Karakoram. Carpine went on to write a more robust account of his travels, but the shorter "Tartar Relation" survived until the 15th century by being included as an addendum to a volume of Vincent of Beauvais's encyclopedic "Historical Mirror" (Speculum historiale).

The map first came to light in 1957 (three years before the discovery of the Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows in 1960) and was offered to Yale University by an alumnus who had become an antiquarian book dealer. Unable to afford the asking price, and concerned that the dealer refused to reveal the provenance of the item, Yale contacted another alumnus, Paul Mellon, who agreed to buy it and donate it to the university if it could be authenticated.

Recognising its potential importance as the earliest map to show America, Mellon insisted that the authentication, conducted by two British Museum curators and a Yale librarian, must be carried out in secret. This was to prove controversial, as the trio were unable to consult specialists.

After years of study they decided the map was authentic, Mellon donated it to Yale, and it was revealed to the world in 1965, simultaneously with the publication of the team's research findings as an elegant book, The Vinland Map and Tartar Relation by Dr. Raleigh Ashlin Skelton et al. In 1995 Yale released a second edition of the book, including new articles arguing that the map is authentic. The New York Times reported that insurers valued the map at $25 million.
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