Munich University Library Researchers recently discovered a 500-year-old map that contains one of the first recorded reference to America, which accidentally got bundled with unrelated documents on geometry several hundred years ago. The map was created by the famous German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller who happened to play an important role in giving the newly discovered continent the name America. Many have considered this early map to be the birth certificate of America, not only because it was the first to include the name, but because it was the first to contain the new geographic data of the “new world” gathered by the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. You can probably see where Waldseemüller came up with the name America.
This previously lost map is not the first or only version of the map found. There are only four similar maps known to have been discovered over the years, one of which was given to the United States as a gift by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007. What makes this more recent discovery unique is that is was printed from delicately carved wooded blocks and it isn’t very often that a rare artifact is hidden among papers in a library for hundreds of years. Sven Kuttner, the university libraroes head of the old books department, stated that the map had become a “sleeping beauty” and that “there hasn’t been a discovery of this dimension since World War II.”