16th Century Map Surprisingly Modern

A 1539 map by Swedish cartographer Olaus Magnus surprises scholars with its depiction of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Carta Marina, drawn in 1539 by Olaus Magnus, features sea snakes and other monsters frolicking in the North Atlantic, but it also shows something else that has made modern cartographers sit up and take notice: a remarkably modern depiction of sea swirls which "closely match a giant ocean front shown in satellite images."

Magnus, a Swedish exile to Italy, was known for filling his maps with depictions of all manner of men, monsters, and other details, leading scholars to wonder if the sea swirls were accidential whimsey or true cartographic elements.

"Their location, size and spacing seem too deliberate to be purely artistic expression," Tom Rossby told BBC News Online. "Nowhere else on the chart do these whorls appear in such a systematic fashion."

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