The Deception Map: To Believe It Or Not?


This is the so called Zeno map of the North Atlantic – a document that was said to be published in 1558 but was made in 1400. This is a map of the alleged voyage of the Zeno Brothers to the North Atlantic which had also reached the North America. They then claimed to have discovered the New World even before the time of Christopher Columbus.

Upon inspection of the map, I have noticed the grid lines which was placed on top of the map objects giving the map a visually tiring appearance. I, for example, tend to give more focus on the lines primarily and it interferes with my map reading. This also gives me the notion that the grids may be a more important aspect of the diagram. Their importance, as far as my knowledge can help me, is to show the reader of the projection used – it gives the readers a sense of how distorted the map is as compared to reality. Also, the graduations in the grid lines suggests location, this gives this map a sense of being searchable. These, for me, may not be good enough reasons for putting the lines on top of the more important features.

It was said that this map also told some narratives as to how it had come to be and was said to be a total hoax as scrutinized by most historians.
The publication details indicated at the top portion of the map, however, contradicts these claims against the authenticity of the map. This gives this map extra credibility, which is only applicaable, if the sources were noted to be trustworthy enough.

Visually, the map is very plain and simple. No colors were used in this print. This may be attributed to the time when this map was published, their technology in cartography was limited to their resources. The items in the map objects though are commendable as they are spaced out and they don’t congest at just one point.

The fonts used also helped in the story telling, it tells the readers of the hierarchy of the places included in the map. Those places labeled in bold letters were marked as important relative to those in plain fonts. Also, another distinction in the labels are those in italics.

But one must not simply believe maps presented to them immediately, as this map seems to have non-existing islands according to the historians who were concerned with its validity.

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2 comments on “The Deception Map: To Believe It Or Not?

  1. I included in my comment an article entitled “Rethinking Maps” by Dodge and Kitchin. The paper is about how the map, despite of being a physical tool in nature is still considered as processual. This may help you more in understanding the context behind a map. This can also give you an idea why this particular map is plain and simple.
    http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/m.dodge/rethinking_maps_paper_pageproofs.pdf

    Grid is one of the elements of the map, this is very important especially, as you say it can give the reader an idea on the projection of the map. I am surprised that the grid lines on top of the map objects give you a tiring appearance. In the first place, it is a convention or a must for every map to have grid lines, and aside from showing the map’s projection, it gives an idea on the distance between one place and another.
    In relation to your comment about the authenticity of the map, I think the grid is a source of doubt. For a map that was published in 1390 before Christopher Columbus and even before Magellan’s idea that the earth is round (oblate spheroid). How come they were able to create a map with a projection?

    Dodge and Kitchin (2007) presented the power relation in map making. We should be very critical when reading a particular map. Being in the field of geography, there is a greater responsibility for us to be more critical in our most powerful tool… the map.

  2. The tiring appearance of the grids are due to its position on top of the map itself, if it were placed with a little more subtlety, as to what most maps do today, it may have been less stressful to me (being the reader/user of the map).

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