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Medieval Sea Chart Was In Line With Current Thinking
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 5-4-2004

Posted on 05/03/2004 5:31:12 PM PDT by blam

Medieval sea chart was in line with current thinking

(Filed: 04/05/2004)

The 16th-century Carta Marina, complete with sea monsters, gives an accurate location for dangerous eddies. Roger Highfield reports

A satellite image of the north-east Atlantic has revealed that medieval cartographers knew much more about ocean currents than was thought.

The ornate Carta Marina, published in 1539, appears crude by today's standards, depicting sea monsters off the coast of Scotland, sinking galleons, sea snakes, and wolves urinating against trees.

But when oceanographers examined a large group of swirls and whorls drawn off the south-east of Iceland, complete with ships, a giant fish and red sea serpent, they found it corresponded with the Iceland-Faroes Front - where the Gulf Stream meets cold Arctic waters, causing huge swirling eddy currents that could sweep a ship off course.

The earliest known reference of its kind, which suggests generations of seafarers including the Vikings were aware of ocean eddies, is reported in the journal Oceanography by a team from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Rhode Island.

The cartographer, Olaus Magnus, an exiled Swedish priest living in Italy, covered the map with ink. But Prof Tom Rossby, from Rhode Island, believes that not every elaborate quill stroke was artistic licence.

"Their location, size and spacing seem too deliberate to be purely artistic expression. Nowhere else on the chart do these whorls appear in such a systematic fashion," he said.

"They are the earliest known description of large scale eddies in the ocean - these are huge bodies of water, 100 kilometres in diameter, that turn slowly. It seems the lines were deliberately drawn to aid navigation.

"We know mariners were aware of these fronts but they would not have the tools to quantify them nor the means to express them," he said.

The discovery, from research part-funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, followed a discussion of the Iceland-Faroes Front at a workshop in Bergen, Norway. Shortly after the meeting Prof Rossby read Cod, the international bestseller by Mark Kurlansky, which contains an illustration of the Carta Marina.

"When I turned the page and saw the map I said, 'holy s**t! These are identical to our satellite images'. I don't think I would ever have registered this had I not been in Bergen."

Dr Peter Miller from the Remote Sensing Group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory provided more accurate satellite information on water temperatures. "Things got exciting when I was able to provide Tom with an image of the eddy field. The data confirmed Tom's theory that the swirls on the map were not artistic licence," he said.

The satellite image shows how waters from the south, shown in orange and red, can be as much as five degrees warmer than the cold currents from the north, marked in purple.

At the point they meet, these huge eddies form, revealed as a blue border. "Sailors would have been aware of these large rotations of water as they affected navigation," he said. "They would notice a change in colour of the water too. The cold currents to the north are generally greener than the Atlantic water to the south due to a greater abundance of plankton."

At the front, deep nutrient-rich waters move up to the surface supporting phytoplankton and grazing zooplankton. "This ready food supply brings pilot whales and other marine creatures to the front to feed," said Dr Miller.

The Carta Marina took 12 years to complete and contains an extraordinary amount of information. The list of towns, lakes and regions is far more comprehensive than any map before well into the 17th century.

It is one of the first maps to give Finland and parts of Russia roughly correct proportions and it is the first map to fully portray the Baltic Sea, the Finnish Gulf and the Gulf of Bothnia in the north.

Northern Scotland, the Hebrides, Orkneys, Faroes and Greenland are described in detail but so, oddly, is a non-existent island, Tile. This island may be related to the mythical northern community Thule. To the ancient Greeks, Thule was the northernmost habitable region of the world. Curiously, its location on the map puts it near St Kilda in the Hebrides.

The map reveals details of shipping routes at the time and warns sailors of drift ice in the north - illustrated by a stranded polar bear on a floe. Whales, sea lions, walruses, crabs and lobsters are also depicted.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: chart; current; godsgravesglyphs; medieval; sea; thinking

1 posted on 05/03/2004 5:31:13 PM PDT by blam
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To: farmfriend
Carta Marina Map
2 posted on 05/03/2004 5:35:34 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Ancient sailors, before modern navigational devices, used all their senses, including sound, taste and smell, to navigate.
3 posted on 05/03/2004 5:49:05 PM PDT by CobaltBlue
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To: blam
Are the 1500s medieval? I thought it was the renaissance!
4 posted on 05/03/2004 5:52:22 PM PDT by breakem
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To: breakem; RightWhale
"Are the 1500s medieval? I thought it was the renaissance!"

To me, it's current events.

5 posted on 05/03/2004 6:04:36 PM PDT by blam
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To: breakem
Learn History - Medieval Age 1066-1500
... Contact. Links. Medieval Age 1066-1500. This topic is about Britain after the Norman invasion of 1066. It is known as the Medieval Period or the Middle Ages. ...
www.learnhistory.org.uk/medieval/ - 24k - Cached - Similar pages

6 posted on 05/03/2004 6:06:25 PM PDT by Lokibob (All typos and spelling errors are mine and copyrighted!!!!)
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To: breakem
That date is argued about. Some place the beginning of the "modern era" at 1492 and the discovery of America. Others place 1550 or 1600. I lean to 1492 myself.
7 posted on 05/03/2004 6:07:13 PM PDT by Burkeman1 ("I said the government can't help you. I didn't say it couldn't hurt you." Chief Wiggam)
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To: CobaltBlue
I guess they had the ability to dead reckon back in the 1500's. That alone could account for mariners having been aware of eddies.
8 posted on 05/03/2004 6:08:26 PM PDT by Sam Cree (Democrats are herd animals)
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To: breakem
> Are the 1500s medieval? I thought it was the renaissance!

Sounds like a baroque-an record to me.
9 posted on 05/03/2004 6:14:57 PM PDT by XEHRpa
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To: Anoreth
navigation
10 posted on 05/03/2004 7:08:58 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." (2nd Kings 6:16-17)
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To: blam
This island may be related to the mythical northern community Thule. To the ancient Greeks, Thule was the northernmost habitable region of the world.

I knew some guys who spent a year in Thule. To a man, they all said that it was definitely not habitable.

11 posted on 05/03/2004 7:50:26 PM PDT by Siegfried (And that's the Siegfried line!)
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To: CobaltBlue
Ancient sailors, before modern navigational devices, used all their senses, including sound, taste and smell, to navigate.

That's how I navigate, what are you implying?

12 posted on 05/03/2004 7:59:57 PM PDT by pbear8 (Fear Gad and Dread Nought)
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To: breakem
As I understand it, the renaissance is often dated to around 1350 in Italy (especially around Florence), but after that it took up to 200 years to spread to other part of Europe.
13 posted on 05/03/2004 8:08:20 PM PDT by 68skylark (.)
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To: blam
Some more:


14 posted on 05/03/2004 8:28:52 PM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: blam; All
Eddies in the space-time continuum.

Oh, and that's his couch?

15 posted on 05/03/2004 8:47:48 PM PDT by Othniel (Democrats are like roaches: Shine the Light on them, and they scatter for the darkness.)
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To: XEHRpa
lol
16 posted on 05/04/2004 10:11:15 AM PDT by breakem
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To: 68skylark; Lokibob; Burkeman1
Thanx for the info.

My wife and I just got back from Europe. During our trip, we saw the Last Supper, the wall, not the meal. It inspired me to read a book called Leonardo and I was locked into the 1490-1545 time period. Forgot about his teachers and predecessors.

17 posted on 05/04/2004 10:16:19 AM PDT by breakem
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To: blam; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; A.J.Armitage; abner; adam_az; AdmSmith; Alas Babylon!; ...
Gods, Graves, Glyphs
List for articles regarding early civilizations , life of all forms, - dinosaurs - etc.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this ping list.
18 posted on 05/04/2004 11:49:27 AM PDT by farmfriend ( In Essentials, Unity...In Non-Essentials, Liberty...In All Things, Charity.)
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To: breakem
Only in Italy.
19 posted on 05/04/2004 1:53:19 PM PDT by rightofrush (right of Rush, and Buchanan too.)
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To: rightofrush
and france?
20 posted on 05/04/2004 2:51:54 PM PDT by breakem
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

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Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Blast from the Past.

Just going through and updating a number of topics, including this one. However, I'm going to ping this in addition, despite its age (5/03/2004) and despite its having been pinged over five years ago, because it's pretty interesting. And as we used to say all the time around here, thanks Blam. :')

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
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21 posted on 09/01/2009 7:19:14 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/__Since Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: blam

It amazes me every time we re-discover that people have never been idiots! If a mans life depends on something, he will figure out a way to make it happen.


22 posted on 09/01/2009 7:23:08 PM PDT by DariusBane (Even the Rocks shall cry out "Hobamma to the Highest")
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To: blam
Here's a high resolution version at wikipedia.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Carta_Marina.jpeg

23 posted on 09/02/2009 7:16:44 AM PDT by Textide
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To: blam

bttt


24 posted on 09/02/2009 9:46:04 AM PDT by rdl6989
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To: Textide

Very good, thanks.


25 posted on 09/02/2009 10:43:26 AM PDT by blam
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