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Modern Mysteries

15th-Century Vinland Map turns out to be fake

By T.K. Randall
September 19, 2021 · Comment icon 3 comments

A section of the Vinland Map. Image Credit: PD
Researchers at Yale University have debunked what was thought to be the earliest known map of the New World.
The infamous map, which first came to light in 1957, was donated to Yale in the 1960s where it immediately came under a great deal of suspicion and intrigue.

Alleged to date back to the 15th-Century, the map depicts 'Vinlanda Insula' - a section of North America's coastline. It also claims that the region was visited by Europeans in the 11th Century.

Despite appearing outwardly genuine, the map has been mired in controversy ever since it first appeared. Previous studies have indicated the presence of modern ink on its parchment, however it wasn't until Yale researchers were able to apply modern tools and techniques that it was possible to determine once and for all that the entire thing was a complete forgery.

According to their findings, the titanium compound used in its inks wasn't available until the 1920s.
"The Vinland Map is a fake," said curator Raymond Clemens of Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

"There is no reasonable doubt here. This new analysis should put the matter to rest."

There is also strong evidence to suggest that the map was a deliberate hoax, rather than a modern recreation that had simply been misinterpreted as genuine, as evidenced by the fact that its creators used part of an authentic medieval volume and overwrote it to make the map appear more legitimate.

"It's powerful evidence that this is a forgery, not an innocent creation by a third party that was co-opted by someone else, although it doesn't tell us who perpetrated the deception," said Clemens.

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Comment icon #1 Posted by Bavarian Raven 2 years ago
While Vinland was fairly well known amongst the wealthy / religious / heads of states of Europe, this map was known to be (likely) fake for a long while. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by jaylemurph 2 years ago
What makes you think that?! —Jaylemurph
Comment icon #3 Posted by Bavarian Raven 2 years ago
Because the term comes up in various medieval documents. The church knew about "Vinland" from roughly the year 1005 onwards, and titled the Bishops of Greenland: "the bishop of Greenland and lands to the west". The widow of one of the failed settlement attempts in "Vinland" later made a pilgrimage to Rome, and talked to the pope about her experiences in depth. The throne of Greenland was made (in large part) of Narwhale ivory, which came from the upper Baffin sea area, and that narwhale ivory was worth twice its weight in gold. (Also, fun fact, part of the Danish royal attire preserved from th... [More]

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