Maps, Myths, and Men: The Story of the Vinland Map / Edition 1

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Overview

The "Vinland Map" first surfaced on the antiquarian market in 1957 and its authenticity has been hotly debated ever since -- in controversies ranging from such issues as the anomalous composition of the ink and the map's lack of provenance to a plethora of historical and cartographical riddles. Maps, Myths, and Men is the first work to address the full range of this debate. Focusing closely on what the map in fact shows, the book contains a critique of the 1965 work The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation; scrutinizes the marketing strategies used in 1957; and covers many aspects of the map that demonstrate it's a modern fake, such as literary evidence and several scientific ink analyses performed between 1967 and 2002. The author explains a number of the riddles and provides evidence for both the identity of the mapmaker and the source of the parchment used, and she applies current knowledge of medieval Norse culture and exploration to counter widespread misinformation about Norse voyages to North America and about the Norse world picture.
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Editorial Reviews

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. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Seaver, an independent historian and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, has traveled the globe in her quest to ascertain the authenticity of the Vinland Map in Yale University's Beinecke Library. The map has been published with a companion manuscript in R.A. Skelton and others' The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation (1965; new ed., 1995). After introducing readers to the Norse colonies in Iceland and Greenland as well as contemporary reports of voyages west to North America, Seaver begins a detailed and scholarly study of the controversy surrounding the map, including its uncertain provenance, the position of its worm holes, the chemical composition of its ink, the nature of its parchment, and its relationship to the accompanying manuscript. Seaver concludes that the manuscript is genuine but that the map is a modern fake created on cleaned parchment from the manuscript. In the final and most interesting chapter, the author explores the life and career of her candidate for the map's creator, Father Josef Fischer, S.J. (1858-1944). Most suitable for academic libraries. (Index not seen.) Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"In a superlative piece of cross-disciplinary detective work, Norwegian independent scholar Seaver deconstructs the machinations, manipulations, and odd strokes of genius that have played into the story of the Vinland map."—Publishers Weekly

"Seaver has created the definitive portrait of the Vinland Map controversy and has shown us a route home."—Science Magazine

"...a fascinating and very readable investigation..."—Viking Heritage Magazine

"In Maps, Myths, and Men, Kirsten A. Seaver provides a supremely well-researched and documented account of the map's nearly forty-years of public controversy....As well as providing the most detailed account and analysis of the map available, Seaver has also provided a book which allows historians and scholars to reflect more widely on the ways in which personal lives and situations interfere with and inform objective scholarship."—Itinerario

"...the sustained and comprehensive argument presented here is a masterly synthesis that should represent the last word on one of the most contentious debates in modern medieval scholarship."—Speculum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804749633
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Kirsten A. Seaver is an independent historian, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London, a novelist, and a translator. She is the author of The Frozen Echo (Stanford, 1996).
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Table of Contents

1 An American place named Vinland 1
2 The Norse in and near North America 19
3 The black hole of provenance 87
4 Creating matter from wormholes 108
5 A star is born 144
6 Portrait of the Vinland map 164
7 The Vinland map as a cartographic image 205
8 The Vinland map as a narrative 256
9 The Vinland map a human creation 297
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