Thursday, December 6, 2007

Centuries-Old Map Baffles Researchers

By Janet Crain

The 500 year old map going on display at the Library of Congress on Dec. 13th raises some extremely intriguing questions.

In fact, if the government hadn't paid $10,000,000 to purchase the map in 2003 and another considerable amount to restore and conserve the map, plus reportedly more for a chamber to house the map than was spent on those for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, I would be tempted to dismiss this map as a fraud. But surely these guys know what they are doing.

The map was discovered in the Waldburg-Wolfegg castle archives in 1901. It was created by the German monk Martin Waldseemuller. 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 in 1505. The effort took two years and is stunningly accurate.

Some eighty years later and for many years after that, the English searched for a Northwest Passage to the Orient. This belief that such a passage existed was not completely squelched until Lewis and Clark made the Voyage of Discovery and reported back to Jefferson in 1805.

When the early English explorations along the Eastern coast of North America were made by the colonists, some of whom were later known as the Lost Colony, it was thought that the mainland was only a very narrow strip of land with a body of water on the other side which would lead to India and provide riches through trade routes.

How many futile trips were made searching for this chimerical goal? The lives and fortunes lost were in vain. It seems a shame this knowledge was not universally shared.

You can read all about this amazing map here: