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.

Climb aboard one of Christopher Columbus’s ships

Whether or not one thinks that Christopher Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic to the Americas is a day to celebrate, the 1492 journey of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria was an amazing feat.

Although Columbus and his men made it to the Bahamas on October 12– more then 500 years ago, it’s still possible to see what it would have been like to travel on one of these ships during the 15th century.

These days, life-size replicas of the Santa Maria, the Niña and the Pinta serve as floating museums. Although the Santa Maria is permanently located on the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Niña–and most recently the Pinta, travel to various ports.

The Niña, built to commemorate 500 years of Columbus’s voyage, has been to 425 ports since its beginning. The Pinta, larger than the original version, was built in 2006 and also serves as a dockside charter that can be rented out for parties whenever it is docked.

Both of those ships are owned by the Columbus Foundation in the British Virgin Islands.

Tomorrow is the last day that the Pinta and the Niña will be in Huntington, West Virginia. On the 16th to the 20th, they’ll be in Marietta, Ohio and will finish off October in Steubenville, another Ohio river town.

For the schedule that includes the rest of the year, click here. The two ships will finish off the 2009 season in Pensacola, Florida.

As a note: The Santa Maria will be open until October 25th when it will close until April 2010.

Epic round-the-world cruise follows in the wake of famous explorers

In March of 2010, an adventure cruise of epic proportions will get underway from Singapore that will send travelers on a round the world expedition, following in the footsteps of some of history’s most revered explorers.

Cruise West’s Voyages of the Great Explorers will send 120 luck passengers on a 335 day cruise aboard the Spirit of Oceanus, the flagship of the Cruise West fleet. Departing from Singapore on March 6, 2010, the ship will sail west, and eventually return to its starting destination on February 3, 2011. In between, passengers will be treated to 24 individual voyages, encompassed by six defined “chapters”.

Each of these six chapters correspond to a historical figure who explored the world by sea. The first chapter follows the path of Marco Polo, while the second takes the route of Odysseus and the Phoenicians merchants. Subsequent chapters follow the adventures of Lief Eriksson, Christopher Columbus, James Cook, and Ferdinand Magellan. Each cruise within each chapter will follow historical routes and offer insights into what the explorers experienced as they went about their own voyages.

Through the course of the cruise, travelers will experience 242 ports of call spread across 59 countries. They’ll aslo visit 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites, cross 14 seas and oceans, and traverse the Suez, Corinth, and Panama Canals.

So how much will this epic cruise set you back? Good question! You can book any single cruise or combination of cruises starting at $4995. But if you want to do the whole thing, spending all 335 days circumnavigating the globe, it’ll set you back a cool $233,995. I wonder what Marco Polo would think of that.

For more information on the cruise read the press release here.