500 Year Old Map of America Found Hidden in Book

Just in time for Independence Day, one of the first European maps to recognize the continental mass known today as North and South America was discovered tucked between the pages of an old geometry book in the Munich University Library. The map, which is over 500 years old, was created by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller using data from Amerigo Vespucci’s voyages to “The New World” from 1501-1502, hence the designation “America”. Until now, the map had been lost sometime in the 19th century after being misfiled in the university library. Including this one, there are only 5 versions of the map that are known to exist and one of them sold for $1 million at an auction in 2005.

The map is thought to be a younger, smaller version of the 3 square meter one, created by Waldseemüller in 1507, nicknamed “America’s Birth Certificate.” It is part of UNESCO’s world heritage documents and was given to the United States in 2007 as a gift by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, symbolizing “a wonderful token of the particularly close ties of friendship between Germany and America.” It is incredible that the newly discovered map survived the air raids of World War II which destroyed much of the library. The design, which depicts Europe’s geographical knowledge at the time, portrays America as a boomerang-shaped land mass in the 3 elliptical segments furthest right. If the figure were to be cut out and pasted together to form a miniature globe it would measure just 11cm in diameter.

Birth Certificate for America

Discovered by Redditor Sprewell15

Images via Spiegel Online Photo Gallery

Story via The Local and Science Daily

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  1. Will

    I thought we realised the ‘discovery’ of America & Australia were not such a big deal considering they only had to use maps to find them! In both cases, didn’t Cook & Columbus have copies of Chinese maps made a few centuries before?

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