Rediscovering Martellus

An interesting article in PhysOrg brings to light new discoveries in a five century old map of Henricus Martellus, a German cartographer responsible for one of the most accurate pre-Columbian maps ever. In fact, this may have been the map Christopher Columbus himself studied.

Credit: Mike Cummings, PhysOrg.

Credit: Mike Cummings, PhysOrg.

Unfortunately, time was not kind to Martellus' map, and by the time it was donated to Yale University in 1962, much of the ink had faded. But thanks to some fancy tech work, photographing in reflective colors - including outside the range of light visible to the human eye - we have been able to discover many new notes and facets of the map that have been unknown to us since Columbus' voyage. 

Notes recently discovered in Southern Africa correspond with the Egyptus Novelo map, affirming that Martellus preferred African sources for African cartography over European. Notes of Martellus' in the text range from descriptions of orca whales to descriptions of mythical Panotii (humans, described by Pliny the Elder, with ears so large they used them as blankets).