Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Vindication for Vinland map: New study supports authenticity

25.11.2003


Recent conclusions that the storied Vinland Map is merely a clever forgery are based on a flawed understanding of the evidence, according to a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution. Results from last year’s study debunking the map’s authenticity can also be construed to boost the validity of its medieval origins, the scientist claims.

The report will appear in the Dec. 1 edition of Analytical Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

The Vinland Map is a drawing of Iceland, Greenland and the northeastern seaboard of North America that has been dated to the mid-15th century, suggesting that Norse explorers charted North America long before Columbus. The map, which has had a contentious history since its discovery in the 1950s, resides at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. It has been valued at more than $20 million.



"Many scholars have agreed that if the Vinland Map is authentic, it is the only existing cartographic representation of North America prior to Columbus," says Jacqueline Olin, a member of the advisory committee of the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education in Washington, D.C. "Its date is important in establishing the history of European knowledge of the lands bordering the western North Atlantic, and the deeper question of Columbus’s own possible awareness."

In July 2002, two papers about the Vinland Map were published simultaneously in separate scientific journals — one in Radiocarbon, which set a date for the map’s parchment at about 1434 using carbon dating; and another in Analytical Chemistry, claiming that the map is really just a clever 20th-century forgery on medieval parchment.

Olin, who was involved in the Radiocarbon research, wrote the new Analytical Chemistry paper in response to the controversy sparked by last year’s dueling papers.

Since the age of the parchment is not in dispute, Olin says, "The information needed to prove that the Vinland Map is medieval rests with the ink used to draw it."

Before the development of the printing press, manuscripts were written in either carbon-based inks or iron gallotannate inks. Erosion of the latter often leads to yellow staining - a feature exhibited by the Vinland Map.

In last year’s Analytical Chemistry paper, British researchers analyzed the ink with Raman microprobe spectroscopy and claimed that it is made up of two parts: a yellowish line that adheres strongly to the parchment overlaid with a black line that appears to have flaked off.

Because they found the black line contained carbon, the researchers assumed the ink was not iron gallotannate, meaning there should be no yellow staining. They proposed that the yellow line was put there by a clever forger who knew it was a common feature of medieval manuscripts. This line contained anatase, a precipitated form of titanium dioxide. Since anatase was not synthesized until 1917, they considered this as evidence that the Vinland Map is a forgery.

To the contrary, the ink may help prove the map’s authenticity, says Olin. "The presence of carbon in an ink is not evidence that the ink is a carbon ink," she says. "It could just as well have been iron gall ink to which carbon has been added as a colorant." Carbon was added to medieval iron gall inks to enable scribes to view their writing while the transparent ink mixture was reacting to form its black color.

"The source of the iron in medieval inks is green vitriol, an iron sulfate," Olin continues. "Green vitriol would include anatase if the iron source from which it was made included the iron-titanium mineral ilmenite."

Researchers have reported the absence of ilmenite in the ink of the Vinland Map, but that would only mean it was not present in the sulfate used to make the ink, Olin says. In earlier work, she made a simulated 15th century ink using ilmenite for the preparation of green vitriol. The resulting ink contained anatase, and no ilmenite.

There has also been no discussion about the significance of the other elements found in the ink, Olin says. She used archaeological reports to show that the presence of copper, aluminum and zinc — all found in the Vinland Map’s ink — would be consistent with medieval production methods from green vitriol. Additionally, these elements raise serious doubts about the possibility of forgery, because 20th century iron gall inks would not be produced using medieval hydrometallurgy, which is responsible for the presence of these elements. No forger in the first half of the 20th century could be expected to know about these extra components, according to Olin.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org/
http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/interdisciplinary_research/report-11672.html
http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/interdisciplinary_research/report-11669.html

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht 36 big data research projects
21.02.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

nachricht Coastal wetlands excel at storing carbon
01.02.2017 | University of Maryland

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>