Maps, Myths, and Men: The Story of the Vinland Map Paperback – Jun 2 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In a superlative piece of cross-disciplinary detective work, Norwegian independent scholar Seaver deconstructs the machinations, manipulations and odd stroke of genius that have played into the story of the Vinland map. Allegedly dating from 1440 and ostensibly showing extensive medieval Norse exploration of the North American coasts, the map rocketed out of obscurity—"the black hole of provenance"—with the publication of a lavishly illustrated volume entitled The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation in 1965. The stunning revelation of the map—and the publication of a volume prepared with peculiar secrecy by scholars from top-name institutions—received intense international press coverage, but was greeted with skepticism in many quarters. A meticulous guide, Seaver leads us through the minutiae of ink analysis, handwriting and strangely located wormholes. Her investigation culminates in the doomed Austrian monastery of Stella Matutina, where a brilliant Jesuit cartographer, Josef Fischer (1858–1944), worked on a "jeu d'esprit" that would sabotage Nazi propaganda by "proving" the global reach of the medieval Catholic church while flattering the Nazis' interest in Norse origins. Through his well-intentioned forgery, Fischer set in motion a different kind of legend. Once German soldiers forced their way into Stella Matutina, the gates opened to a world of pilfering, profiteering and eventually marketing blitzkrieg. Illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"It is an enjoyable book to read, and the author writes in such an enthusiastic way that the book reads almost like a detective story."Canadian Journal of History
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
American resources found in Greenland. It goes through all
Norse references about the Norse way of seeing the world and
suggests that the Norse used American territories for centuries
after Leif Eiriksson's discovery.
The fact that no other pre-Columbian Norse maps of Vinland
exists together with ink studies, oddities in the text on the map and script analyzes suggests that the Vinland map is a 20th
century fake made by a German priest.
If you are interested in the Viking voyages to America this book is a must in your collection and the reference section will
guide you to further interesting material about Vinland.
Actually, although admiring her work, I spent little time on the long tale of how she determined the Vinland map is a modern-day forgery. More interesting to me was her summary of Norse history in North America which she covered in the first 86 pages. This is an abridgement of the longer account she gave in "The Frozen Echo"
The main question she tackles is one of the most intriguing in history: why did the Norse colonies in Greenland disappear after almost 500 years of existence? A worsening climate, Eskimo attacks, and the failure of the Norse to adjust to the environment of the Arctic have all been cited. To the contrary, Seaver believes that the Greenland colonies failed because the isolated residents united with English cod fishermen and moved on to greener -- and more lucrative -- pastures in Newfoundland about 1500. There's little evidence to back up her opinion, although it is well reasoned. If this idea excites you, read "The Frozen Echo" for a more thorough examination.
Seaver combined the skill of an exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting, scholar with that of a literary detective in writing the book. Its worth your attention.
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