Skip to comments.Study Says Medieval New World Map Is Real [Thank Leif Eriksson]
Posted on 11/26/2003 6:19:59 PM PST by nwrep
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - 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.
The study examined the ink used to draw the Vinland Map, which belongs to Yale University. The map is valued at $20 million if it is real and not a clever, modern-day forgery.
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 (news - web sites) in Washington, said Tuesday her analysis shows the ink was made in medieval times.
"There is no evidence this is a forged titanium dioxide ink," said Olin, whose paper appears in the December issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.
The authenticity of the map has been debated since the 1960s, when philanthropist Paul Mellon gave it to Yale. The university has not taken a position on its authenticity.
The map depicts the world, including the north Atlantic coast of North America. It includes text in medieval Latin and a legend that describes how "Leif Eiriksson," a Norseman, found the new land called Vinland around the year 1000.
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.
Last summer, Olin and other researchers announced that carbon-14 dating of the parchment showed it was made around 1434 exactly the right time for the map to be genuine.
However, researchers from University College in London examined the ink on the map and announced last summer that it cannot be more than 500 years old.
Tests in the 1970s by Walter McCrone who also had disputed the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin found the ink contained anatase, a form of titanium dioxide that is common in inks made after 1920. Anatase is found in nature, but the crystals of anatase were too regular-shaped to have been natural, McCrone said.
Olin's study looked at various minerals found in the ink, including aluminum, copper and zinc. All these minerals, she said, would have been byproducts of the medieval ink manufacturing process.
Also, she said anatase also could have ended up in the ink because of the manufacturing process, and its crystal size and shape could have changed over time.
Research is continuing into the Latin writing on the map.
I suspect Al Gore invented it.
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"2,200 miles to Wall Drug."
History of Bristol County, 1883 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Speak I speak I thou fearful guest!
Who, with thy hollow breast Still in rude armor drest, Comest to daunt me! Wrapt not in Eastern balms, But with thy flesh less palms stretched as if seeking alms, Why dost thou haunt me?"
When Longfellow wrote " The Skeleton in Armor," he commemorated forever the curious and mysterious remains that were found in Fall River in the year 1832, and destroyed in the great fire of 1843. Few persons of general reading are entirely unacquainted with the conjectures of antiquarian and archaeological societies in relation to the origin of this skeleton. The Society of Northern Antiquaries of Copenhagen, Denmark, which, a few years after the finding of the skeleton, had the subject under consideration, raised the query whether it might not have been the remains of one of the Northmen, who are now very generally supposed to have visited our coast, and to have spent a winter here, or near here, about the eight or ninth century. Probably the best account now extant of the finding of the skeleton, and a description of its appearance at the time, was written by the date Dr. Phineas W. Leland in the records of the old Fall River Athenaeum soon after the fire of 1843, and is as follows:
" Among the curiosities of peculiar interest (in the cabinets of the Fall River Athenaeum) was the entire skeleton of a man, about which antiquarians in the odd as well as the new world had speculated much. The skeleton was found in the year 1832 in a sand- or grave]-bank a little east of the Unitarian meetinghouse by some persons while digging away and removing a portion of the bank. (On or very near the site now occupied by the "Gas-Works, corner of Hartwell and Fifth Streets).The skeleton was found near the surface in a sitting posture,the legbones doubled upon the thigh-bones, and the thighs brought up nearly parallel with the body. It was quite perfect, and stood remarkably well the test of exposure. Covering the sternum w as a triangular plate of brass somewhat corroded by time, and around the body was a broad belt made of small brass tubes four or five inches in length about the size of a pipestem placed parallel and close to each other. Arrowheads made of copper or brass were also found in the grave with the skeleton. That these were the remains of an Indian seemed to be very generally conceded; the configuration of the skull, the position in which the skeleton was found, and the additional fact that parts of other skeletons were found near the same place renders it nearly certain that these were the bones of an Indian. Whose frame it was will not likely ever be permitted us to know. Whether it belonged to some chief still celebrated in song and story, or to an obscure child of the forest, whose bones and deeds slept in the same undistinguished grave, we have no means of knowing. Tradition and history are alike silent when interrogated. We would fain believe that these were the remains of some noble old chief, once master of the beautiful and rich valley through which the dark waters of the Titicut (Indian name of Taunton River) still rot. We would believe so, for we dove to think that humanity once warmed the heart of him whose bones have excited so much our wonder and curiosity. Whoever he was, peace be to his ashes."
In the American Monthly Magazine for January, 1836, is a short article on the skeleton, then in the Fall River Athenaeum, portions of which we shall extract, not because the description is faultless, but because it is the account of one J. Stark who examined the remains for the purpose of describing them to the public. With Mr. Stark's speculations accompanying his description we have little concern. More facts and greater reflection would probably have led him to very different conclusions. He describes the skeleton as " the remains of a human body, armed with a breastplate, a species of mail and arrows of brass, which remains he supposes to have belonged either to one of the race who inhabited this country for a time anterior to the so-called aborigines, and afterwards settled in Mexico or Guatemala, or to one of the crew of some Phoenician vessel that. blown out of her course, thus discovered the Western world long before the Christian era.
"These remains were found in the town of Fall River, in Bristol County, Mass., about eighteen months since. In digging down a hill near the vi]lage, It large mass of earth slid off, leaving in the bank and partially uncovered a human skull, which, on examination, was found to belong to a body buried in a sitting posture, the head being about one foot below what had been for many years the surface of the ground. The surrounding earth was carefully removed and the body found to be enwrapped in a covering of coarse bark of a dark color. Within this envelope were found the remains of another of coarse cloth, made of fine bark and about the texture of a Manilla coffee-bag. On the breast was a plate of brass, thirteen inches long, six broad at the upper end and five at the lower. This plate appears to have been cast, and is from one-eighth to three thirty-seconds of an inch in thickness. It is so much corroded that whether or not anything was ever engraved upon it has not yet been ascertained. It is oval in form, the edges being irregular, apparently made so by corrosion.
"Below the breastplate, and entirely encircling the body, was a belt composed of brass tubes,each four and a half inches in length and three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, arranged longitudinally and close together, the length of the tube being the width of the belt. The tubes are of thin brass, cast upon hollow reeds, and were fastened together by pieces of sinew. This belt was so placed as to protect the lower parts of the body below the breastplate. The arrows are of brass, thin, flat, and triangular in shape, with a round hole cut through near the base. The shaft was fastened to the head by inserting the latter in an opening at the end of the wood, and then tying it with a sinew through the round hole, a mode of constructing the weapon never practiced by the Indians, not even with their arrows of thin shell. Parts of the shaft still remain attached to some of them. When first discovered the arrows were in a sort of quiver of bark, which fell in pieces when exposed to the air.
"The skull is much decayed, but the teeth are sound and apparently of a young man. The pelvis is much decayed and the smaller bones of the lower extremities are gone.
"The integuments of the right knee, for four or five inches above and below, are in good preservation, apparently the size and shape of life, although quite black.
" Considerable flesh is still preserved on the hands and arms, but more on the shoulders and elbows. On the back under the belt, and for two inches above and below, the skin and flesh are in good preservation, and have the appearance of being tanned. The chest is much compressed, but the upper viscera are probably entire. The arms are bent up, not crossed, so that the hands turned inwards touch the shoulders. The stature is about five and a half feet. Much of the exterior envelope was decayed, and the inner one appeared to be preserved only where it had been in contact with the brass.
" The preservation of this body may be the result of some embalming process, and this hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that the skin has the appearance of having been tanned, or it may be the accidental result of the action of the salts of the brass I during oxidation, and this latter hypothesis is supported by the fact that the skin and flesh have been preserved only where they have been in contact with or quite near the brass, or we may account for the preservation of the whole by supposing the presence of salt peter in the soil at the time of the deposit. In either way, the preservation of the remains is fully accounted for, and upon known chemical principles.
"That the body was not one of the Indians we think needs no argument. We have seen some of the drawings taken from the sculptures found at Palenque, and in those the figures are represented with the breastplates, although smaller than the plate found at Fall River. On the figures at Palenque the bracelets and anklets seem to be of a manufacture precisely similar to the belt of tubes just described.
" If the body found at Fall River be one of the Asiatic race, who transiently settled in Central America, and afterwards went to Mexico and founded those cities, in exploring the ruins of which such astonishing discoveries have recently been made, then we may well suppose also that it is one of the race whose exploits have, although without a date and almost without a certain name, been immortalized by Homer. Of the great race who founded cities and empires in their eastward march, and are finally lost in South America, the Romans seem to have had a glimmering tradition in the story of Evander.
"But we rather incline to the belief that the remains found at Fall River belonged to the crew of a Phoenician vessel. The spot where they were found is on the sea-coast, and in the immediate neighborhood of Dighton Rock, famed for its hieroglyphic inscriptions, of which no sufficient explanation has yet been given, alla near which rock brazen vessels have been found. If this latter hypothesis be adopted, a part of it is that these mariners, the unwilling and unfortunate discoverers of a new world, lived some time after they landed, and having written their names, perhaps their epitaphs, upon the rock at Dighton, died, and were buried by the natives.
Many descriptions I have read indicate the skeleton had red hair. I'm wondering if any of you norse scholars recognise the brass implements as being Norse in origin. Boot.
YOU GO LEIF!
Columbus just had better PR.
LEIF ERIKSON DISCOVERED AMERICA!!!! ALAS, IT'S FINALLY PROVEN TRUE!!!
Another fav of mine --- where Ann Taylor was discovered :-)
Someone should notify the Viking Kittens...
"We come from the land of ice and snow..."
Columbus just had better PR.
LEIF ERIKSON DISCOVERED AMERICA!!!! ALAS, IT'S FINALLY PROVEN TRUE!!!
Aw crap!! Does this mean I'll have to change my business cards to read "Leif, Ohio"????
Please add me...
What modern city/town is this? What state, even? It's not entirely clear.
Have an old Vincent Price movie where he goes and lives with the monks, gets into their inks and papers, inserts a document, makes a second copy for himself, leaves the monks and goes to America with this huge land claim and seeks out a girl to play the role of the Baroness claiming the land.
He eventually gets caught but it was a great scenario.
This stuff is always interesting but I think they do not put enough effort into mapping "techniques", identifying the author.
The town is Fall River Massachusetts. Curiously, if you read the account of Torvald's journies, there is a description of a battle that took place with indians (c1000?) inside a bay, where a river flowed to the west from east. This is a fair description of the Quequechan River that flows from the Watuppa Pond to Mount Hope Bay in Fall River. My memory is a bit shakey on the story.
The local legend is that this skeleton was the crewman, (or was it Torvold himself who was killed?) who was killed by the indians.
The folks at the historical society poopoo this notion, and assert that it was a local indian.
But there's the descriptions that repeatedly describe the remnant of red hair.
I have some information in my library...maybe a photo...and a couple old histories that mention the skeleton. I'll look around.
I suppose the key is identifying the "armor" to something similar.
I grew up in the area, and the Saga descriptions of Torvold really seem to have been describing this particular area....from Newport RI north to Mount Hope Bay from Narragansett Bay. Sure are a lot of wild grapes! Gorged on them as a kid!
There's a nifty site for NEARA that's worth looking at.
ANCIENT PEMAQUID AND THE SKELETON IN ARMOR
(Reprinted from the NEARA Journal Volume XXXII, No. 1 Summer 1998) W. MEAD STAPLER
But the most exciting discovery had been made the very day I arrived.
Indian brave wearing copper and brass sheet and tube as described by Gosnold in 1602 and Pring in 1603 as living near Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay.
Just southwest of the foundation wall of the tavern, and at a level below the sill stones, were discovered two burials. The level indicated that they had been interred before the tavern was built. The first was the typical Indian flex burial with the body in the fetal position, with the head to the north and facing east. The remains were so decomposed that the surrounding earth had later to be solidified with a resin and removed as a block. The adjacent burial was in a much better state of preservation. It was at about the same level but lying straight out on its back with the head to the north in a Christian type burial. The head, face up, was resting on a sheet of copper which in turn appeared to be resting on a pillow of decomposed fur. Another copper sheet, which had originally been approximately 12 inches wide by 18 inches long and apparently lined with fur, extended from the shoulder to the groin. Just beneath the chin were five rolled copper tubes, neatly stacked, and strung on a continuous strip of braided leather. Each tube was approximately 10 inches long and 3/8 inch in diameter. This was apparently worn as one long continuous necklace of copper tubes, end to end. A small piece of leather, about 5 by 8 inches, was found on the left side of the body, partially beneath the breast sheet of copper, beneath which in turn were many small disintegrated bones.
I'm trying to remember where I read that Columbus knew from old sailors that the earth was round and that he could reach land by sailing west. It also said that most educated people at the time believed it also.
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Nah....not Hudson Bay. Everybody knows they came up Narragansett Bay, Mt Hope Bay, and landed in Fall River....which is why they left and never came back.
They got the map from the Chinese who sailed around the world ca 1421
In order to verify the authenticity of this map, we need to ask the most trusted man in America, Dan Rather. He can spot a forgery right away, and if this map is a forgery, he'll break the story!!
This map shows Greenland to be an island. Greenland, however, was not known to be an island until several centuries after this map was alleged to have been created.
Amazing what you can do with Microsoft Forger these days.
I like the old map that shows the landmass of Antartica. The map has been around for a long-long time. Only recently (last 40 years?) have we determined what the landmass of Antartica looks like under all the ice.
The new maps of the buried landmass match up quite well with the old map!
When Columbus discovered the new world, it stayed discovered.
In an astronomy class, I was taught that the greeks knew the earth was round and had estimated the distance as roughly 25,000 miles (using, of course, whatever units were common to Greeks before Jesus was born).
I was told educated europeans knew this, and they had no interest in sailing west because it was the long way around, and no one knew if there was any land in between.
I suppose for the same reason that every time they find an old skeleton it's not an Indian but a white guy that got here first. (Kennewick Man)
Based on a book I got for Christmas in 1991, this is apparently a pretty common belief in some scholarly circles. Apparently Columbus had expressed some knowledge that couldn't be known otherwise.
My impression is that 99.9% of the time when they find an old skeleton in America, they think it's a Native American Indian.