Monday, November 10, 2008

Atlantic Ocean 1474

Thanks to Strange Maps for this 1474 map of the Atlantic Ocean by the Florentine mathematician, astronomer and cosmographer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli. He proposed sailing west to reach the Spice Islands and it was this proposal that inspired Columbus to make his famous first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. Reportedly, Columbus took Toscanelli's map with him on that voyage. (The real position of the American continents has been superimposed on Toscanelli's original map. Amazingly, Columbus did not have the advantage of this minor amendment.)

Toscanelli's error, of course, was to underestimate the circumference of the earth leading him to place Cippangu (Japan) and Cathay (China) much closer to Europe than they actually are. And so on October 12 1492 Columbus made landfall somewhere in the Bahamas, believing to his dying day that he was off the east coast of Asia ... and the rest is history.


Mal Kiely [Lancelots Pram] said...

I love reading maps, and that one's absolutely fascinating. Thanks!!!

Tillerman said...

Then vote for Maps on Monday in the poll!

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