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Marble Globe

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Mysterious representations on a collection object

The globe in the Ducal Palace collection of the castle foundation “Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha” (Thuringia, Germany) seems to have an exciting secret. East of the South American continent this marble globe shows an image of a ship that has all the characteristics of an early Egyptian ship type. However, no citizen of Gotha in the Early Middle Ages could have had this knowledge of Egyptian shipbuilding to immortalize on a globe. The studies of the author do not only bring light into the knowledge of early cartography, but also in the study of cultural interaction in the past.

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The marble globe comes from the hand of an unknown master. It is presumed to have been created by the manufacturer Johannes Schöner from Nuremberg, who could have made it as a research globe around the year 1533.
In the first analysis in the foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha, the hitherto unknown representation of an Egyptian-style ship off the coast of South America was discovered by Cornelia Lorenz.
Globe detail of South America with the puzzling representation.
First attempts of 3D referencing the coastlines of the Gotha globe were performed in 2009. Today we are working with the company Messbildstelle Dresden GmbH and with the Institute of Cartography of the Technical University of Dresden in order to produce complete reproductions of all Schöner globes, including the marble globe of Gotha.
Unbelievable but true! The marble globe from Gotha (1533) shows in addition to the Finaeus map (1531) one of the best representations of Antarctica of the early modern period. The legendary southern continent was not discovered until 289 years later by the Russian-German expedition Bellingshausen and Lazarev in 1820! How did the amazing similarities of the coastline come about?
The transfer of the coastlines as they appear on the marble globe on a modern representation of Antarctica revealed that these coastlines are too exact for a fantasy presentation. West Antarctica in particular is reproduced quite accurately, apart from the omission of the Palmer Peninsula. Where did the cartographers of the early modern period get this knowledge?
Today the first Schöner globe of 1515 is exhibited in the Frankfurt Historical Museum where the first study by the company Messbildstelle Dresden took place in August. The photo shows the Museum Director Dr. Frank Berger (left ) in the study along with Dr. Dominique Görlitz and the museum curator (Center).
Close-up view of the globe from 1515. The detail shows the African continent and below the Antarctica. However, it is not as exact as on the Schöner globe from 1533 or the marble globe of Gotha.

Copyright | Dominique Görlitz •  Dr.-S.-Allende-Str. 46 • D − 09119 Chemnitz | Telefon 0049 - (0)371 725 478 0 | Mobil 0049 − (0)163 - 511 57 66 | dominique.goerlitz@t-online.de