November 6, 2006 John Hessler To Discuss How Computer Modelling Helps To Understand the 1507 and 1516 Waldseemuller World Maps

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Geography and Map Division (202) 707-8530

John Hessler will present a lecture titled “Warping Waldseemüller: Computer Modeling and the Quest to Understand the 1507 and 1516 World Maps” at the Library of Congress at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 29, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The lecture, sponsored by the Library’s Geography and Map Division, is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed. Hessler is a member of the Collection Management Team of the Geography and Map Division.

The 1507 and 1516 World Maps by Martin Waldseemüller are two of the most important in the history of cartography and have recently been added to the collections of the Library of Congress. The Library acquired the 1507 map for $10 million in 2003, and the 1516 map is part of the Kislak Collection that was donated to the Library in 2004.

The 1507 map has been referred to in various circles as “America’s birth certificate,” because it is the first document on which the name “America” appears. It is also the first map to depict a separate and full Western Hemisphere and the first to represent the Pacific Ocean as a separate body of water. According to Hessler, the 1516 map is of a very different character and cartographically represents the world in a way that seems to chronologically pre-date the 1507 map.

In his lecture, Hessler will address the unanswered historical questions surrounding both maps. He will highlight new computer research that is aimed at characterizing the maps’ accuracy and discovering their geographic sources. The research uses several related geometric modeling techniques to numerically model the comparative scale, accuracy and deformation of the two maps between themselves and with modern equivalents. The lecture will be illustrated with 50 slides.


PR 06-207
ISSN 0731-3527