500-year-old map known as 'America's birth certificate' discovered

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London, July 5 (ANI): A 500-year-old map, known as 'America's birth certificate' has been accidentally found wedged inside a totally unrelated 19th century book in Germany.

The 38 centimetre by 27.5-centimetre sheet is one of only five known copies of the map by master cartographer Martin Waldseemueller and can be folded to resemble a globe.

The map, which shows America marked for the first time, was only believed to have four copies, but staff at Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University made the unexpected find on Tuesday, just in time for America's Independence Day.

"We've made a sensational find," the Daily Mail quoted Klaus Rainer Brintzinger, director of the Munich University Library, as saying.

Sven Kuttner, head of old books at the university, said, that they had no signs for a further map like that.

"It seems to be a second edition and this is a unique map. Until now, we have no signs for a further map like this," he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a similar but much larger map to the United States in 2007 to mark the 500th anniversary of the naming of America.

That map is kept in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

The newly discovered map is smaller than the version which is held in the U.S. capital and dates from 1507 and is divided into 12 segments which taper to a point at each end, which when folded together form a small globe.

However, the groundbreaking map is also politcal as it is the first to name America in honour of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci and not Christopher Colombus.

Waldseemueller believed Vespucci, rather than Columbus was the first European to discover America and named the continent after him. (ANI)