Ostrich Egg Globe Has Oldest Depiction Of The Americas

ostrich egg globe
Used with permission of The Portolan, copyright Washington Map Society

A depiction of the world engraved on an ostrich egg in 1504 may be the oldest depiction of the Americas, the Washington Post reports. The globe, which was purchased by an anonymous collector at the 2012 London Map Fair, shows the rough outline of South America, along with bits of the Caribbean and North America as small islands.

Created just twelve years after Columbus’ first voyage and in the early days of Europe’s Age of Discovery, it shows many parts of the world that had only recently been visited by Europeans, such as Japan. These regions are rather vague, while areas closer to home such as Europe and North Africa are fairly accurate.

A detailed study of the globe has been published in The Portolan, the journal of the Washington Map Society. One thing that emerged from the study was that the ostrich egg globe was used as the mold for a copper globe dated to 1510. The Hunt-Lenox globe is kept in the New York Public Library and was the previous record holder for the earliest depiction of the New World.

Actually the globe is made from two ostrich eggs. Discover Magazine notes that the rounded bottom halves of two eggs were used to make a more globular globe, but it’s still a bit too elliptical. The globe’s history is unclear but stylistic clues hint at an Italian origin. It may have been created for an Italian noble family by an artist associated with Leonardo da Vinci.

What Happens When You Give Birth In-Flight?

Christian Haugen, Flickr

Last week a Royal Air Maroc flight traveling from Casablanca, Morocco to Bologna, Italy was forced to divert to Barcelona when a woman aboard the flight began to give birth. And as it turns out, when a baby decides to come into the world, it could care less if the tray tables are stowed and the seats are in an upright position. The baby was born just before landing.

Babies aren’t born on planes very often, but it does happen. Last year a Delta flight attendant helped deliver a baby boy en route from Atlanta to Africa (she and the doctor used a pair of scissors sterilized in vodka) and when a boy was born aboard an Emirates flight, he was named after the airline. And it should come as no shock at all, that on Virgin Atlantic you might just get treated to a bed of pillows. Richard Branson likes to keep his passengers feeling good after all.

So what happens when you give birth mid-air?

Beyond a likely emergency landing – because although giving birth on a plane sounds exotic, it’s good to get medical treatment – there’s the question of citizenship. According to the United Nations, a child born mid-flight is considered to have been born in the country that the airline is registered, but that doesn’t mean citizenship issues don’t arise.

But more importantly than citizenship, will your child get to travel free for life? That’s a common myth, and although certain babies have received such rewards, it’s not a given. In other words, don’t be boarding planes in the hopes that you’ll score a lifetime of expense free air travel for your child.

Why do women end up giving birth on airplanes?

After 36 weeks, women are encouraged not to fly, but obviously it depends on circumstances and doctor approval. Although you might think that for safety reasons airlines would have a bit more control over letting pregnant woman board airplanes, at the end of the day the rules are mostly based on honesty, and even if airline personnel think a woman is too pregnant to board, there’s not much that they can do. Some women go into early labor, and once mid-air there’s not a whole lot else to do but hope that there’s a doctor or nurse aboard.

Why Do We Give Countries Different Names?

Endonym map of country names
EndonymMap.com

You booked a trip to Germany, so why does your passport stamp say Deutschland? Your name didn’t change from John to Johann, so why should the country’s name change? If you’ve ever wondered why countries go by different names in different languages, you can check out the Endonym map, that displays each country by their own name. Endonyms are a country’s name within its own borders (see: United States of America, Detschland, Estados Unidos Mexicanos), while exonyms are what it’s known by in other languages (a.k.a. Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika, Germany, Mexico). Many of them are similar-sounding cognates that are easier to say or spell in our native language (Brazil/Brasil or Italy/Italia), or some are descriptive and sometimes derogatory names for a place (see this literal Chinese translated map of Europe, like Italy/Meaning Big Profit).

Can you figure out some of the more difficult English exonyms with a hint?Elláda: You might recognize this name better from its ancient pronunciation: Hellas, named for a famously beautiful resident.

Hrvatska: Such a combination of consonants might be familiar from one of their famous islands: Hvar.

Miṣr: You’ll read this name now in Arabic, not hieroglyphics.

Suomi: The more commonly known name for this country was found on rune stones in nearby Sweden.

Zhōngguó: Our name derives from Persian and Sanskrit, and now also describes a certain kind of porcelain dishes.

*Answers: Greece, Croatia, Egypt, Finland, China

Was This The Real Mona Lisa?

Mona Lisa
Wikimedia Commons

Scientists in Florence are examining the bones of a 16th century nun they think served as the model for the Mona Lisa.

Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo was the wife of a wealthy merchant and is rumored to have been the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait. She was a famed beauty in her time and lived across the street from the famous artist and inventor. When her husband died she became a nun at the convent of San Orsula in Florence, where she died and was buried in 1542.

A team of scientists went looking for her in a crypt under the convent. DNA in the bones they found is now being compared with samples taken from the Gherardini family tomb in hopes of finding a match. The next step will be facial reconstruction to see what the woman looked like in life. Perhaps they’ll find the mystery to her enigmatic smile.

Facial reconstruction and DNA analysis have already been done for the remains of King Richard III, found last year under an English parking lot. Researchers are also examining the possible remains of King Alfred the Great.

The Love Boat Makes Final Voyage

Quail Love Boat
StefanoF, Flickr

The iconic MS Pacific, better known as “The Love Boat,” has made her final voyage.

Purchased for 2.5 million euro by a Turkish ship recycling company and taken to a scrapyard on the Aegean Sea coast of Turkey, the cruise ship will be stripped for metal and parts, as a renovation of the 42-year-old ship would have been too costly.

On the Aaron Spelling comedy, the Pacific Princess sailed between California and the Mexican Riviera from 1977 to 1986, with cruise director Julie, bartender Isaac and Captain Stubing at the helm. The actual ship had been decommissioned years ago and was languishing in Italy’s Genoa port, after sailing for Princess Cruises until 2002 and later Quail Cruises.Take a photo tour of the ship in its glory days here.

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