Yale University confirms its controversial Vinland Map is a fake

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University says it will still put the map on display

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Yale University says a decades-long debate over the authenticity of its controversial Vineland map has been settled: It’s a fake.

The map was donated to the school in 1965, presented as a supposed 15th-century depiction of the New World, which would have made it the earliest. At the time, scholars at Yale and other institutions considered it evidence of Viking voyages to the Americas long before the voyage of Christopher Columbus.

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But the map faced almost immediate speculation that it was a hoax from others in academia. Turns out they were right, and it all comes down to ink.

A recent analysis by Yale’s own researchers found that the ink used in the map’s lines and text contained a titanium compound that was not made until the 1920s, so it was certainly not made in 1440, as that some had previously believed.

The University in New Haven, Connecticut notes that a 1973 study by the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago showed for the first time that the titanium compound anatase was used in map ink, and Yale’s own in-house analysis was available. Verifies it using latest technology.

“The Vineland Map is a fake,” said Raymond Clemens, curator of early books and manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which houses the map. “There is no reasonable doubt here. This new analysis should put the matter to rest.”

Despite concluding that the Vineland map is not the treasure it was once believed to be, Yale is going to keep the fake parchment drawing and will continue to display it along with the accompanying manuscripts.

“The map itself has become a historical object,” Clemens said. “It is a great example of a forgery that had international influence, and is an integral part of the Speculum Historiale, a truly fascinating manuscript.”


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