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2.12.03

Claiming Labrador For Spain

Study Says Medieval New World Map Is Real

The latest scientific analysis of a disputed map of the medieval New World supports the theory that it was made 50 years before Christopher Columbus set sail.

... A study last summer said the ink on the parchment map was made in the 20th century.

But chemist Jacqueline Olin, a retired researcher with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, said Tuesday her analysis shows the ink was made in medieval times.

... Scholars have dated the map to around 1440. Some scholars have speculated that Columbus could have used the map to find the New World in 1492.


I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other about the authenticity of the Vinland map -- I still have a gut feeling it's probably a fake, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's definitely real. Unlike, say, the Piri Reis map, it doesn't claim the cartographer had any more knowledge of the world than we already know the Vikings had.

What I do find hard to believe is the idea that Columbus based his journey on the Vinland map (presuming it's real). If he had reason to believe there was a "new world" out in the Atlantic, it seems like he would have tried to sell that idea to Ferdinand and Isabella, rather than -- or in addition to -- the "shortcut to India" idea. And he would have been less convinced that he had in fact reached India if he knew there were other lands out there. Further, the Vinland map shows nothing south of Canada. If Columbus had been looking to arrive in Vinland, he wouldn't have sailed so far south.

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