Markland known in 14th C Genoa

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    Hans Hellinger

    Interesting development, in a document from the birthplace of Christopher Columbus

    Scholar Discovers a 14th-Century Monk Wrote About the Americas Before Columbus’ Discovery

    Looks like this is the paper

    [Our] authorities say that under the equator there are very high mountains, where there are temperate settlements, made possible by winds, or by the shadow of the mountains, or by the remarkable thickness of the walls, or by underground caves in valleys. At the equator there are also many islands that are truly temperate because of the rivers, or the marshes, or the winds, or for reasons that are unknown to us.

    And for a similar reason there are settlements beneath or around the Arctic pole, despite the very intense cold. These settlements are so temperate that people cannot die there: this fact is well known for Ireland. The reasons why this happens are unknown to us. Marco Polo speaks explicitly about this, when he says that there is a certain desert 40 days across where nothing grows, neither wheat nor wine, but the people live by hunting birds and animals, and they ride deers.

    Further northwards there is the Ocean, a sea with many islands where a great quantity of peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons live. These islands are located so far north that the Polar Star remains behind you, toward the south. Sailors who frequent the seas of Denmark and Norway say that northwards, beyond Norway, there is Iceland; further ahead there is an island named Grolandia, where the Polar Star remains behind you, toward the south. The governor of this island is a bishop. In this land, there is neither wheat nor wine nor fruit; people live on milk, meat, and fish. They dwell in subterranean houses and do not venture to speak loudly or to make any noise, for fear that wild animals hear and devour them. There live huge white bears, which swim in the sea and bring shipwrecked sailors to the shore. There live white falcons capable of great flights, which are sent to the emperor of Katai. Further westwards there is another land, named Marckalada, where giants live; in this land, there are buildings with such huge slabs of stone that nobody could build with them, except huge giants. There are also green trees, animals and a great quantity of birds. However, no sailor was ever able to know anything for sure about this land or about its features.

    From all these facts it is clear that there are settlements at the Arctic pole.[1]


    Its also an interesting description of norse Greenland just before its abandonment! Supposedly one of the things Jared Diamond got wrong in Collapse was that the archaeologists think the Norse had switched to a meat- and fish-based diet towards the end of their settlement. They were not rigidly stuck on farming and cattle-raising.

    Hans Hellinger

    Yeah I was not a fan of Guns, Germs and Steel which is the only one of his works that I read (and I think mentions the Greenland debacle), to me it’s much more ideological than historical. History just isn’t that deterministic.

    It seems most likely that the Greenland colonies were brought down by a combination of climate change and the arrival of large numbers of inuit.

    Basque whalers and fishermen were apparently making it out to that area routinely by the 14th Century.

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