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The Scientific Examination of the Vinland Map at the Research Laboratory of the British Museum

A. D. Baynes-Cope
The Geographical Journal
Vol. 140, No. 2 (Jun., 1974), pp. 208-211
Published by: geographicalj
DOI: 10.2307/1797077
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1797077
Page Count: 4
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The Scientific Examination of the Vinland Map at the Research Laboratory of the British Museum
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Abstract

This series of papers comprises contributions to the Symposium on the Vinland Map held at the Royal Geographical Society on 4 February 1974. The Symposium considered the circumstances leading to the publication of the Vinland Map in 1965 and the arguments for and against its authenticity. Physical tests had shown that the ink of the Map was not only unlike that of other seemingly comparable medieval documents but contained a pigment not known to have been available before 1917 at the earliest. The Map did not appear to fit into the framework of medieval cartography as conceived in Western Europe; an early twentieth century source was suggested. Doubt was also cast (for linguistic reasons) on the alleged date of the Tartar Relation with which the Map had been bound and was associated. On the other hand it was argued that the internal evidence for a medieval origin for the Map was so overwhelming that some explanation of the physical evidence consistent with authenticity was bound ultimately to be forthcoming. Reference was made to the Map's interest (if genuine) for the history of geographical ideas. A reconstruction of a possible forgery was also attempted. The Map's importance, however, in relation to the Norse discovery of America was shown to have been grossly exaggerated. In this respect the publicity it had attracted had been particularly misleading.

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