Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Map of America on Display

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young

Reuters reported Monday on a new display at the Library of Congress.

The only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display this month at the Library of Congress, but even as it prepares for its debut, the 1507 Waldseemuller map remains a puzzle for researchers.

Why did the mapmaker name the territory America and then change his mind later? How was he able to draw South America so accurately? Why did he put a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific?

"That's the kind of conundrum, the question, that is still out there," said John Hebert, chief of the geography and map division of the Library of Congress.

The map was created by the German monk Martin Waldseemuller. Thirteen years after Christopher Columbus first landed in the Western Hemisphere, 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.

The result, published two years later, is stunningly accurate and surprisingly modern.

I love maps, and this one is something else. There's a five-photo slideshow in the upper left corner of the article. I picked this one, because it also shows part of the Library of Congress.

I'm not kidding, if you visit Washington, DC, you must include the Library of Congress on your itinerary (contact your Congressman's office to arrange a visit--it's what you pay them for). The decor is fabulous. And now they have this map on display. Perfect.

1 comment:

Malott said...

I never throw away my old maps either.