Brit-Am Historical Reports
2 November 15 Cheshvan 5770
1. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of
Explorator 12.27
2. The First Map to Name America
The map that changed the world
3. The Location of Europe and Civilization
Ancent Links: Britain, Egypt, Myceanea


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1. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of Explorator 12.27
From: david meadows <>
explorator 12.27 October 25, 2009


On the 'wussiness' of modern humans:


According to a geologist, karst limestone persuaded David to
choose the site of Jerusalem:

The oldest known granaries (Jordan) apparently predate the
development of agriculture:

The Report of the 2009 Season of the Italian Archaeological
Mission in Old Nisa is available: (index)

An engineer denies that there is digging going on under Temple

... and they brought a bunch of journalists to the site to prove

... but plans are afoot for a major excavation at the Western

... and some sort of museum over a Roman road:

Interesting feature on Israel's Antiquities Authority:

The conflict in Egypt to preserve its Jewish past:

More on Omrit:

On the Romanization of the Batavians [Netherlands]:

More on Asterix at 50:,,4817128,00.html,8599,1931169,00.html

On the DNA front, the first men and women from the Canary Islands
were Berbers:

Railway construction in Germany has revealed a number of Bronze
Age sites and burials:,1518,656221,00.html

Archaeologists have identified the quarries that Simeon I the Great used to
build his palaces:

Latest 'great battle' whose 'greatness' is being called into question is

There's a big conference on matters Viking going on in Aberdeen:

Followup to the Staffordshire hoard business:


All about the Mocama people:

They're still talking about the possibility that Galileo may
have discovered Neptune:

Using DNA to follow the history of domesticated cattle:

... and Lyme disease:

Happy birthday to the Prime Meridian:

On plagiarism software and Shakespeare:,8599,1930971,00.html?iid=tsmodule

Star sailing is making a comeback in the Pacific islands:


More on those Bar Kokhba coins from a while back:

... and this week's developments in regards to the Cyrus cylinder:

... and a related oped piece (on the politicization of artifacts):

A flag from Trafalgar fetched a nice price:

2. The First Map to Name America
The map that changed the world
by Toby Lester

Drawn half a millennium ago and then swiftly forgotten, one map made us see the world as we know it today... and helped name America. But, as Toby Lester has discovered, the most powerful nation on earth also owes its name to a pun.

Almost exactly 500 years ago, in 1507, Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann, two obscure Germanic scholars based in the mountains of eastern France, made one of the boldest leaps in the history of geographical thought - and indeed in the larger history of ideas.

Near the end of an otherwise plodding treatise titled Introduction to Cosmography, they announced to their readers the astonishing news that the world did not just consist of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the three parts of the world known since antiquity. A previously unknown fourth part of the world had recently been discovered, they declared, by the Italian merchant Amerigo Vespucci, and in his honour they had decided to give it a name: America.
But that was just the beginning. Waldseemuller and Ringman in fact had written the Introduction to Cosmography merely as a companion volume to their magnum opus: a giant and revolutionary new map of the world. It's known today as the Waldseemuller map of 1507.

The Waldseemuller map was - and still is - an astonishing sight to behold. Drawn 15 years after Columbus first sailed across the Atlantic, and measuring a remarkable 8ft wide by 4?ft high, it introduced Europeans to a fundamentally new understanding of the make-up of the earth.

The map represented a remarkable number of historical firsts. In addition to giving America its name, it was also the first map to portray the New World as a separate continent - even though Columbus, Vespucci, and other early explorers would all insist until their dying day that they had reached the far-eastern limits of Asia.

The map was the first to suggest the existence of what explorer Ferdinand Magellan would later call the Pacific Ocean, a mysterious decision, in that Europeans, according to the standard history of New World discovery, aren't supposed to have learned about the Pacific until several years later.

The map was one of the first documents to reveal the full extent of Africa's coastline, which had only very recently been circumnavigated by the Portuguese. Perhaps most significant, it was also one of the first maps to lay out a vision of the world using a full 360 degrees of longitude. In short, it was the the mother of all modern maps: the first document to depict the world roughly as we know it today.

Waldseemuller himself would later record that 1,000 copies of the map had been printed, a very substantial number for the day. But the rapid pace of geographical discovery meant that copies of the map were soon discarded in favour of newer, more up-to-date pictures of the world, and by 1570 it had all but vanished from memory.

When the map maker Abraham Ortelius that year published a comprehensive list of his cartographical predecessors and their maps, he mentioned Waldseemuller but made no reference to the great 1507 map.

The map turns out to be an enormously revealing patchwork of several different kinds of maps: the world as depicted by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as diagrammed by Europe's Christian theologians, and as charted by the sailors who plied the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

There's more. The name America, for example, very probably represents not just a tip of the hat to Amerigo Vespucci but also a multilingual pun that can mean both "born new" and "no-place-land" - a playful coinage that seems to have inspired Sir Thomas More to invent his new world across the ocean, one meaning of which was also "no-place": Utopia.

The map itself seems also to have made a powerful impression on none other than Nicholas Copernicus, who began his landmark On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by describing America as he saw it depicted on the map, and who then went on to argue that the existence of a fourth part of the world meant that the traditional model not only of the earth but also the cosmos would have to be rethought.

Below is a selection of your comments.

A wonderful map. But on the naming of America, there are at least three theories. It may come from the Amerrique region of Nicaragua. It's also been suggested that the name derives from Richard Ap Meryk (or Amerike), the main sponsor of John Cabot's voyages to Newfoundland (pre-dating Vespucci). See, for example, the article on Richard Amerike on the BBC website. Waldseemuller knew of the continent's name, and merely assumed that it was named after Vespucci.
Chris Jones, London

I thought that QI debunked this theory a few series back? Something about geographical features normally being named after last names e.g. Van Diemen's Land, Magellan Straits etc.?
Ross, Essex, UK

Richard Ameryk (also known as Richard ap Meryk/Meyrick), who was appointed the King's Customs Officer for Bristol in 1486, 1490 and 1497 and became chief sponsor for John Cabot's expedition to Newfoundland in 1497 is now thought to be the person for whom America was named. Countries and other geographical features tended to be named after surnames, not first names, so America would have been Vespuccia had the place been named for Amerigo Vespucci.
Hugh, Cambridge, UK

I was under the impression America was named after Richard Americk not Amerigo Vespucci or have I just been watching too much QI?
Marie, Amersham

I thought it was widely accepted now that America was named for Richard Amerike, the Bristolian merchant who funded John Cabot's voyages to Newfoundland, and not Amerigo Vespucci at all? As far as I know, even Vespucci himself said that America was not named after him.
Tim McNulty, Isle of Man

Well, if all this is true I can only hope that Stephen Fry and the QI team will let go of the idea that America is named after a Welshman called Richard Merrick and give credit to to Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann for naming after Amerigo Vespucci.
Graham, Glasgow

I'm reading Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and in the creation myth at the beginning he is quite clear that the world is spherical, with ice at both poles and a very hot region in the middle, with temperate areas in between. He was writing at about the time of Christ. I didn't realise the ancient world knew so much geography.
Veronica, Henley

There is a great theory put forward by Gavin Menzies in his book: "1421 The Year China Discovered the World" and offers a solution how these "Germanic scholars based in the mountains of eastern France" could have come up with such a solution. The Chinese had circumnavigated the world and provided this information to the courts of Europe. In this he also considers the 1666 map by Nicholas Visscher, which shows the outline of Western Australia, drawn years before Captain Cook had "discovered" it.
Leyland Harrison, Essex, England

3. The Location of Europe and Civilization
Ancent Links: Britain, Egypt, Myceanea
Locale as a key to civilization?
Europe Between the Oceans
9000 B.C. - A.D. 1000

By Barry Cunliffe

Yale University Press.
Reviewed by Chris Hedges

Barry Cunliffe is the emeritus professor of European archaeology at Oxford, and Europe Between the Oceans is perhaps the boldest work of ancient history in recent memory. I

Cunliffe believes that, rather than being the result of great leadership, specific intellectual traditions, religion, philosophy, or even the accidents of history, European advancement is rooted in particular environmental influences and expansive historical continuity. He argues that Europe's unique geography is the key to unlocking its unique civilization.

Nordic grave sites have yielded artifacts from across the Mediterranean. Sarmatian horsemen, originally from central Asia, served in northwestern Britain in the Roman army.

The Roman Empire, likewise, is dismissed as "an interlude." Cunliffe writes:

The century of political turmoil and military conflict that engulfed Italy and spread to its provinces in the period from 133 to 27 B.C. is usually explained in terms of the "big men" who inspired the factions and led the armies - people such as the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Augustus - but really they were only helpless human beings caught up on the deep swell of change set in motion by the rise of acquisitive elites vying for space in a peninsula too small to contain them.

This is an example of how Cunliffe retreats somewhat too often into his own orthodoxy. He sacrifices complexity on the altar of consistency.

Europe Between the Oceans, lavishly illustrated, nevertheless provides readers with a brilliant and fascinating interweaving of cultures and traditions. Cunliffe draws on archaeological finds that indicate direct contact between the societies of Homeric Greece and those of prehistoric Britain. He holds up identical images of warriors depicted in ruins in Sardinia, Egypt, and Scandinavia. He explores Dark Ages sites in Sweden that have yielded coins from the eastern and western Roman empires, a ladle from Egypt, a bishop's crosier from Ireland, and a bronze statue of Buddha from India. Even if he too often ignores the indisputable role of human beings in their own history, Cunliffe magisterially shows how the interweaving of civilizations, made possible by geography, has, indeed, always been a powerful engine for human advancement.

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