500-Year-Old Map of ‘America’ Discovered at German University

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By Jack Maddox

(CNN) — A centuries-old copy of a 500-year-old map that christened the New World as “America” has been discovered at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich — folded and wedged inside of an old book, according to a release on the university’s website.

The original map, created in 1507 by cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, according to the release, shows the continent of America isolated from Europe by a vast ocean and as a much smaller, banana-shaped landmass than what is mapped today. The ancient map was based on a variety of research expeditions, with Amerigo Vespucci’s voyages at the beginning of the 16th century featuring heavily, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

The map itself is made up of globe segments, each containing different parts of the world that when cut out and folded together create a small globe. The university’s website says the “new” map — printed some time after the original — was found inside a rebound 19th century book, unrelated in subject matter, by a bibliographer going through a routine revision of catalogs.

The U.S. Library of Congress currently houses the only known full-size surviving copy of the original ambitious 1507 World Map by Waldseemüller, after receiving it from German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007. The Library of Congress says that this was the first world map to recognize the new-found American landmass, completely transforming the understanding of a world originally thought of until then as Europe, Asia and Africa.

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