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Vinland map

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The Vinland map is purportedly a 15th century map of the world, redrawn from a 13th century original. Its importance is that, in addition to showing Africa, Asia and Europe, the map depicts a body of land across the Atlantic called Vinland, which the map describes as having been visited in the 11th century. It is believed by some to demonstrate that Viking explorers found and mapped the New World before Columbus did in 1492. The map was found together with a book detailing the explorations of Leif Eriksson, who had discovered America in the 11th century and named it Vinland. The map was first found in 1958 and was donated to its current owner Yale University in 1965; it is valued at around $18 million.

There have been a number of claims that the map is false, and examinations by a number of institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, have returned conflicting results. Radiocarbon dating places the origin of the parchment at around 1434. Chemical analysis of the ink dated the map to after 1923 because the presence of anatase (titanium dioxide) in the ink of the map. Anatase was not manufactured before the 1920s. In July 2002, the authenticity of the map was again challenged. Utilising Raman spectroscopy, the drawings on the map are claimed to consist of simulated stains from the decay of an iron-based ink, although the ink itself is carbon-based and should have generated no decay stains.

Whether or not the map is genuine, it has been proved to general satisfaction that Greenland was settled by Vikings around 970, a settlement which lasted until the fifteenth century, while the archeological finds in L'Anse aux Meadows (on Newfoundland) show that at that place there was a (probably short-lived) Viking settlement.

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