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Expert: Medieval Map Showing America May Be Real

A medieval map that showed part of North America decades before Columbus may be real, one expert says.

Cartographer Rene Larsen of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts told an international conference in Copenhagen on Friday that the Vinland Map, thought to have been drawn about 1440, doesn't look like a fake.

"All the tests that we have done over the past five years — on the materials and other aspects — do not show any signs of forgery," Larsen told Reuters.

The map of the world, discovered in the mid-1950s bound into an authentic medieval history of the Mongol invasions, shows Europe, western Asia and north Africa — and, in the upper left corner, a craggy-looking island labeled "Vinland Island" in Latin.

Until about 50 years ago, Norse sagas of a fertile land called "Vinland" to the west of Greenland had been dismissed by modern historians as fanciful.

It wasn't until 1960, several years after the Vinland Map appeared, that the remnants of a Viking settlement were found at the northern tip of Newfoundland.

Previous tests of the paper and ink used to create the Vinland Map show it may be a forgery, but Larsen said those findings were erroneous.

If the map is real, it would show that some medieval Europeans outside of Scandinavia knew of a substantial body of land where North America lies.

• Click here to read more from Reuters.

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