The Vinland Map

by Daniel Russ on August 11, 2015

vinland-map-merl

 

In 1957, a book curator John Davis, and a book collector Enzio Ferrario walked into the offices of the British Museum and carrying what they claimed to be a Viking map that delineated what must be America, about 50 years before Columbus. It was accompanied by a book of sagas about the Vikings. We know the Vikings were astounding travelers and explorers, and that they had some of the most sea worthy ships around. In 870 they discovered Iceland. And in 950 they discovered Greenland.

Davis and Ferrario wanted to sell the book and the map.

To many, the coastline of Vinland (America) looked amazingly accurate. Some felt it looked too accurate. The British Museum refused to give the map a stamp of authenticity.

That all said, Ferrario was not just a book merchant, he an Italian Fascist who sided with Franco in the Spanish Civil War. He had a reputation of being sort of “dodgy” as the English would say. So they shopped the book and the map around to collectors until they found an interested buyer.

Some of the problems with the find were that Vikings had made no previous maps at all.

Controversy surrounds the Vinland map as evidence regarding its mysterious origin, the type of ink and paper used have landed on both sides of the truth. It even offended Italian Americans who felt they were the first to discover the New World.

The truth is it didn’t matter who discovered America before Columbus or not. Columbus opened the door to commerce. And that was the real end of the Old World. Once the power of an Imperial European power kicked the door in, the Silk Road was essentially extended across the globe.

 

In some way, Columbus’s discovery was the greatest commercial venture in history.

 

 

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