Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dubbed America

The Universalis Cosmographia was a map created by Martin Waldseemüller and first published in April 1507. The significance of the map is that it was the first to use the name America. The German cartographer named the territory after Amerigo Vespucci who was an Italian explorer and cartographer.

Waldseemüller created some sections of the map making presumptions and intuition based on reports from explorers such as Vespucci and Christopher Columbus. He correctly depicted a land mass between Europe and Asia and the existence of another Ocean on the other side. He made the assumption that the natives that Vespucci encountered were not similar to the Asian people other explorers had come across in India, China and the West Indies. He made the leap that since the Vespucci natives were so different that it must have been a land far from Asia. Since Vespucci made his encounters in what is now Brazil that is the area that the map showed as America.

The map itself was printed on twelve woodcuts that were 18 x 24.5 inches or 46 x 62 cm. The twelve were laid out four across and three high. The section showing America was in the lower left corner. 

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