Hidden secrets found in Columbus' 1491 map
By T.K. Randall
June 15, 2015 · 9 comments
The Martellus map was believed to have been used by Columbus. Image Credit: Michael Zeno Diemer
The map studied by Columbus before his trans-Atlantic voyage has been cleaned up using computer software.
Created by German cartographer Henricus Martellus, the highly detailed map was drawn up in the 15th century and is thought to have been used by Christopher Columbus himself.
The map was donated to Yale University in 1962 however after hundreds of years its markings had faded dramatically making it difficult to make out all of the original writing and details.
Now in an effort to get around this problem a team of researchers has used a technique known as multispectral-imaging which involves photographing the map in twelve different colors and then analysing the images using special computer software.
"We've recovered more information than we dared to hope for," said project leader Chet Van Duzer.
The method revealed a huge amount of previously hidden details on the map including numerous textual descriptions of the people who lived in various parts of the world at the time such as the 'Panotii' of Southern Asia who were said to have ears so large they could be used as sleeping bags.
Researchers studying the map also discovered that Martellus had used several different sources when creating it including the Egyptus Novelo map and text from 'The Travels of Marco Polo'.
"It's always interesting to learn how people conceived the world at that period in history," said Van Duzer. "The late 15th century was a time when people's image of the world was changing so rapidly."
"Even within Martellus's own career, what he was showing of the world expanded dramatically."
| Comments (9)