Debating the Mysteries of Early Modern Science and Cartography

A Celebration of the 500th Anniversary of Waldseemüller’s 1516 Carta Marina will be held in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress on October 6th and 7th,2016, and will consist of two days of talks, the morning of the first focusing on some of the most mysterious scientific questions of the Medieval and Early Modern Periods, including maps like the Vinland and the Rossi Map with Ship, with the afternoon looking at new scholarship on the Carta Marina and its broad cultural context. The Schoner Sammelband, which contained both Waldseemuller’s 1507 and 1516 Map as well as globe gores by Johannes Schoner and the earliest printed star-chart by Albrecht Durer was recently donated to the Library by Madison Council member Jay Kislak, who purchased the Carta Marina and Sammelband after the LoC removed the 1507 World map from the Schoner portfolio. The Library, late in 2015, completed the acquisition, from the Prince of Wolfegg, of the final missing piece which was the Durer chart, thus bringing back together in the Library’s collections the entire contents of the Sammelband as it was bound together by Johannes Schoner in Nuremburg circa 1517.

The second day will feature an amazing multi-media presentation put together by the Galileo Museum in Florence on all aspects of Waldseemuller’s life, his context and the cartography he and his associates produced.

The conference will also feature an evening keynote lecture. This is the 2016 Annual Jay I. Kislak Lecture on the History of the Early Americas and will be delivered this year by best-selling author and historian of science Dava Sobel (of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter fame). Her lecture will focus on the early history of celestial cartography, which is also the subject of her new book which will be released the week of the lecture. In the past this annual lecture has featured many best-selling authors and intellectuals like Charles Mann, Jarod Diamond, Michael Coe and MacArthur Fellow David Stuart.

The conference itself combines both the Kislak Lecture and a celebration of the acquisition project that led to the Waldseemuller/Schoner materials all being brought back together and is meant to be multi-disciplinary and will not only include cartographic historians but also historians of early science, philosophy and literature, all of whom will be giving talks and contextualizing some of the most profound cartographic mysteries of the early modern period. The sponsorship for the conference is coming from the Jay I. Kislak Family Foundation and the Gray Family Memorial Fund.

Speakers will include world renowned historians Kirsten Seaver on the Vinland Map, Ben Olshin of the Rossi Map with Ship and Marc Polo, Chet van Duzer and Don McGurck on the Carta Marina, and Joaquim Alves Gaspar on Portolan Charts, Stephanie Wood on thePuebla-Tlaxcala contrived maps and manuscripts, as well a special presentation by the Library of Congress’ Conservation Division on the science behind the preservation and encasement of the Waldseemuller maps.

Source of the image: Library of Congress