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.

Photo of the day (12.9.10)

photo of the day 12 9 10

Finding contrasts is one of the best things about travel. We love seeing places, people, and cultures different from our own and when we see a familiar item in an unfamiliar context, it’s especially interesting. Pick up any travel article about Turkey, Morocco, or Japan and you’re guaranteed to read a few examples of “old world meets new” contrast. Today’s Photo of the Day by Mike GL captures a moment between a monk and his mobile in front of New York’s City Hall. Recently in Kiev, Ukraine, I saw young Orthodox monks wearing track suit jackets over their robes and chatting on iPhones, and couldn’t help but find the image jarring and funny, but even monks have to stay connected these days. You think there’s a FourSquare check in at the monastary?

Take any good contrast photos? Share them in our Flickr Group – we may just include it as our next Photo of the Day.