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Vinland Map targeted again
Debunking lecture is slated at Jefferson Lab
By Dave Schleck
Published October 5, 2003
NEWPORT NEWS -- On the surface, the Vinland Map might be one of the great manuscripts of Western civilization. Supporters of the map housed at Yale University say it's a 15th-century document showing the first outline of North America and includes a legend describing the Vikings' discovery of the continent decades before Christopher Columbus set foot in the New World in 1492.
The Vikings called their discovery "Vinland" - "wine land" - because it was rich in grapes and wild berries. Archaeologists found proof of a Viking outpost in Newfoundland in the 1960s. And the estimated value of the map has soared to $35 million.
But beneath the surface, the Vinland Map is a fake, according to skeptics like chemist Michael Henchman.
First of all, the Vikings had no tradition of mapmaking, Henchman said. Second, the map shows Greenland's rigid coastline with incredible accuracy for the 15th century. And the Latin writing on the map includes inflections that don't match the era.