Oldest Globe Showing the New World Discovered on Ostrich Egg

Courtesy Washington Map Society

The oldest known globe to depict the New World was discovered etched on an ostrich egg dating back to 1504, the Washington Map Society said.

The egg, which is about the size of a grapefruit, depicts North America as a group of scattered islands. It also features South America, Japan, Brazil and Arabia engraved onto the globe, according to a Washington Map Society news release this week.

The phrase "HIC SVNT DRACONES" is etched over the coast of Southeast Asia, which translates to "Here are the dragons."

The globe, which was made from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, was uncovered at the London Map Fair in 2012 from a dealer who said it had been part of an "important European collection" for decades, according to the Map Society.

"When I heard of this globe, I was initially skeptical about its date, origin, geography and provenance, but I had to find out for myself," said collector Stefaan Missinne, a Belgian researcher who analyzed the globe for the cartography journal "The Portolan," which is published by the map collecting organization.

"After all, no one had known of it, and discoveries of this type are extremely rare. I was excited to look into it further, and the more I did so, and the more research that we did, the clearer it became that we had a major find," he said.

The discovery, announced on Aug. 19, was previously unknown.

Before the egg was uncovered, the oldest globe to show the New World was thought to be the Lenox Globe, a copper orb in the care of the New York Public Library. Turns out, the ostrich egg was used to cast the Lenox Globe.