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.

SkyMall Monday: Nuclear Globe

gadling skymall monday nuclear globeSince the Cold War, we have lived in fear of nuclear war. Nuclear disasters from Chernobyl to the recent events in Japan have showed the force and dangers of nuclear power. But, what if I told you that something nuclear could also be fun? While we don’t power SkyMall Monday headquarters with fusion, we do appreciate a good nuclear device. With summer just around the corner, we were thrilled to discover that SkyMall has combined the excitement of nuclear power with the thrill of water sports. Before you worry about fallout, radiation and strange genetic mutations, you should know that this device is only dangerous if poked with something sharp. Here to usher in the zenith of the nuclear age is one of the pinnacle’s of human invention. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the power of the Nuclear Globe.Man has always wanted to walk on water. Now, we all can thanks to the aquatic version of the American Gladiators Atlasphere. Whether powered by a nuclear reactor or just a little elbow grease, man can finally conquer water and enjoy spherical travel.

Think that boats are all we need for water travel? Believe that this globe is not really nuclear? Well, while you tread water we’ll be reading the product description watching the promotional video:


Leave your radiation-blocking lead vests at home, because the only vest that this Nuclear Globe requires is of the floatation variety and if yours is made of lead you’re screwed.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

VIDEO: Many steps around the world


A new video by Japanese filmmaker Takayuki Akachi shows people taking steps all around the world. Sounds simplistic, because it is, but the video shows a beautiful slice-of-life from around the globe. His concept is described as “collecting the steps from all over the world and playing a music with the steps.” The artist specializes in a “lone backpacker” style of filming that allows him to travel without a film crew. This isn’t his first round-the-world video effort: last year he made the stop-motion Traveling Denim, documenting a pair of jeans over two years and 50 countries. Check out all of his videos on Vimeo.

Music by Dulo, video sponsored by Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. MANY STEPS from Takayuki Akachi on Vimeo.

Shakespeare’s first theatre discovered

Archaeologists in the London borough of Shoreditch have uncovered the city’s first theatre, and the first that staged Shakespeare’s plays.

Named simply “The Theatre”, it opened in 1576 and the game is afoot to build a new theatre on the site. The Theatre Appeal is raising money for the project and plans to install glass floors so visitors can admire the original Elizabethan floor and foundations.

The Theatre was disassembled in 1598 and the beams used to build Shakespeare’s more famous venue, the Globe. The reason for this move was that the landowner had a dispute with Shakespeare’s troupe and threatened to kick them out. So the Bard and friends waited until the landowner was away for Christmas, took the building apart, and spirited it to a new location.

A reconstructed Globe offers daily performances on the south bank of the Thames. The faithful reproduction gives you the feel for the original without the toothless peasants, dead cats, and outbreaks of the plague. You can even buy cut-rate tickets for the “groundling” section, a standing-room-only area in front of the stage. The performances are of uniformly high quality. Having lived in London for a year, I put it on my top ten list of things for visitors to do. A reconstruction of The Theatre would give Shakespeare lovers a double-dose of the The Bard.


Public domain image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Shaping the world: The making of globes (video)

This is one of those videos you are unlikely to look for yourself, but once you find it, it spurs curiosity and you watch with interest.

In around 4 minutes, this video shows how globes are made in a globe factory. With country borders and place names changing constantly, putting together an updated globe with precision is quite a challenge. The video is the making of a standard desk globe. A bit of Googling and I found that there are hundreds of types of globes these days.

I remember being gifted a beach-ball size desk globe on my 10th birthday. It had a bulb in it and every night before going to bed I would switch-off all the lights, turn on the bulb in my globe, and stare at it with amuse as I turned it slowly. I would then start plotting routes and making up my own adventure travel stories as I discovered new lands. I still have that globe and will never part with it.

I know it’s just a globe. But being able to see the world, topography and all, on a scale (rough) of 1:40 million, is pretty incredible. That’s exactly why it’s worth watching how it’s done. The video lacks details on how they do the technical drawings pre-globe-making, but I imagine you would need a lot more than 4 minutes to explain that.

[Via kottke.org]

Oh, and Happy Halloween!